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Title: Reclamation of acidic dredge soils with sewage sludge and lime at the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal
Authors: Palazzo, A. J. (Antonio J.)
Keywords: Sewage sludge
Soil acidity
Publisher: Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (U.S.)
Series/Report no.: Special Report;77-19
Abstract: A field study was conducted to assess the effects of sewage sludge and lime on the revegetation and reclamation of acidic (pH 3.0) and infertile dredge soils. Sewage sludge at 100 metric tons/ha (45 tons/acre) and lime at 25 metric tons/ha (10 tons/acre) were applied during the summer of 1974 on a seven hectare (17 acre) site and plowed into the soil to a depth of 20 cm (8 in.). Soils were sampled 20 months after sludge incorporation at three depths, 0-20, 20-40, and 40-60 cm (0-8, 8-16 and 16-24 in.) within the sludged and control areas. A total of 29 grass treatments, containing grasses seeded alone or in combinations, were also evaluated and seven grass types analyzed for mineral composition. At the 0-20-cm (0-8-in.) soil depth, sewage sludge plus lime increased pH, cation exchange capacity, exchangeable calcium and magnesium, organic carbon, and total, organic and plant available phosphorus. Exchangeable potassium and sodium were unchanged. Below the 20-cm (8-in.) depth, concentrations of plant-available phosphorus and soil pH were similar to the control soils, indicating a possible restriction to deep rooting of plants. Applications of sewage sludge appreciably increased the levels of total and extractable metals in the 0-20 cm (0-8 in.) soil layer and Ca and Mg in the two lower soil depths as well. Smaller increases in other constituents were detected in the two lower soil depths. A large percentage of the zinc, chromium, lead and mercury applied to the soil was in a form not available to plants, while approximately 50% of the nickel and cadmium applied was available. Good seed germination and seedling vigor were evident for all grasses, indicating that the amended soil could support plant growth. Differences among species and varieties were noted after one complete growing season. The Kentucky bluegrasses, red fescues and K-31 tall fescue produced good growth after one season. The ryegrasses provided the densest soil coverage during the initial growing season, but competed excessively with the other, truly perennial grasses, resulting in inferior vegetative coverage eventually. No differences in mineral composition were noted among the seven grasses analyzed. Among the elements analyzed, only nickel was high, with two species near the toxic range (> 20 ppm). The extractable soil level of this element was 30.2 ppm, with only 48% being in the unavailable form.
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