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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 9 No. 2, p. 243-250
    Received: June 27, 1979

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Nutrient and Coliform Losses in Runoff from Fertilized and Sewage Sludge-Treated Soil1

  1. Edward P. Dunigan and
  2. R. P. Dick2



Surface runoff losses of fertilizer elements from forage plots on Loring silt loam soil (5% slope) were monitored from three separate studies during an 11-month period. Incorporating approximately equal amounts of N and P from commercial fertilizer (150-66, kg N-P/ha) and sewage sludge (177-54, kg N-P/ha) did not significantly affect differences in N and P losses. Surface application of sewage sludge resulted in higher N and P losses than those from incorporated sewage sludge. The surface-applied sludge plots in the second experiment (14.8 metric tons/ha) had the highest N and P runoff losses of 3.24 and 0.39 kg/ha, respectively. These losses were due to a heavy rain that fell early in the test period. Increasing the rates of surface-applied sewage sludge from 16.2 to 28.9 metric tons/ha did not increase runoff losses of N but did increase P losses by 28%. The N and P losses for all treatments were < 1% of that added. The highest K losses (1.24 kg K/ha) came from the fertilized plots. In all sewage-treated plots, K losses were approximately equal to or lower than the control values.

Precipitation was found to contain substantial quantities of NH4-N and NO3-N with respect to losses of these ions in the surface water. Work with 15NH4-N indicated that the 15NH4-N in the rain could contribute substantially to the total amount of N lost in the surface runoff waters. There was also exchange of rain-NH4 and soil-NH4.

Fecal coliform indicator bacteria (FC) counts in surface runoff waters from sewage-treated plots were very high in the first 11 to 17 days of the second and third experiments; Counts of FC were as high as 55,000/ml. However, numbers decreased rapidly as the soil became drier.

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