Metal availability following paper mill and alkaline residuals application to field crops.

Gagnon, B., Ziadi, N., Robichaud, A., and Karam, A. (2013). "Metal availability following paper mill and alkaline residuals application to field crops.", Journal of Environmental Quality, 42(2), pp. 412-420. doi : 10.2134/jeq2012.0310  Access to full text


Land application of residuals from the forest industry can help to restore soil fertility, but few studies have assessed the effects of metal accumulation in plants. An experimental study was initiated in 2000 on a loamy soil at Yamachiche, QC, Canada, to evaluate the effects of repeated annual applications of combined paper mill biosolids, when applied alone or with several liming by-products. This study assessed the accumulation of Cu, Zn, Mo, and Cd in plants and soil after 6 (soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]) and 9 [corn (Zea mays L.)] crop yr. Wet paper mill biosolids at 0, 30, 60, or 90 Mg ha-1 were surface applied after seeding. Calcitic lime, lime mud, and wood ash were applied wet each at 3 Mg ha-1 with 30 Mg wet paper mill biosolids ha-1. Repeated applications of paper mill biosolids increased plant and soil metal concentrations after 6 and 9 yr in the order of Cd > Mo (soybean) > Zn > Cu. Liming increased soil pH and Mo availability and decreased Zn and Cd availability. Metals in crop stover responded more positively to applications than those in grains, but the concentrations in plant tissues were generally well below critical values. The Cu/Mo ratio of soybean plants at pH > 6.8 fell below 2:1, however, and may pose a risk for inducing Cu metabolism disorder in ruminants. Results of this study indicate that paper mill biosolids and alkaline residuals, when applied with respect to regulations and soil pH, have a limited effect on metal accumulation in plants and soil.

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