Effects of Biosolids on Tall Fescue-Kentucky Bluegrass Sod Production and Soil Chemical and Physical Properties
Cataldi, Joseph Derik
MetadataShow full item record
Composted biosolids have been shown to enhance turfgrass establishment and growth more than fertilizer alone, but few studies have investigated the production of turfgrass using uncomposted biosolids. Increasingly employed treatment methods that generate pathogen-free, low pollutant-containing biosolids are creating alternative products for use in urban settings. Understanding the effects of these uncomposted and alternative biosolids products on turfgrass culture and soil chemical and physical properties is essential to understanding the benefits these products may provide in sod production systems. The objectives of this study were to compare processing methods, application and N mineralization rates of two biosolids products and an inorganic fertilizer control for sod fertilization on 1) agronomic parameters related to turfgrass quality, 2) the amount of soil, C and P exported at harvest, and 3) chemical and physical properties of the soil following sod harvest as an indicator of the benefits of biosolids use. The study was conducted on a sod farm in Remington, Virginia on a silt loam Ashburn-Dulles complex from 2009 to 2012. The biosolids products were applied at estimated plant available nitrogen (PAN) rates of 98 kg N ha-1 (0.5X), 196 kg N ha-1 (1.0X) and 294 kg N ha-1 (1.5X) for a tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb. \'Rebel Exeda\' \'Rebel IV\' and \'Justice\')/ Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L. \'Midnight\') mixture. One biosolids product was an anaerobically digested dewatered cake applied at 15, 30.5 and 46 wet Mg ha-1. The second biosolids product was the same cake blended with wood fines applied at 17, 34 and 51 wet Mg ha-1. The biosolids treatments were compared to an inorganic fertilizer control that supplied 196 kg N ha-1 through three applications over the production cycle. There were no differences in establishment between the cake biosolids treatments and the inorganic fertilizer control, but all of the blended biosolids were slower to establish. Only the 1.0X and 1.5X PAN rates from the cake biosolids matched the inorganic fertilizer control in producing an acceptable quality sod in ten months. Lower nitrogen uptake between the blended biosolids treatments compared to the inorganic fertilizer control and lower although acceptable sod quality ratings at harvest of the 1.0X cake biosolids indicate our PAN estimates of 30% organic nitrogen mineralization overestimated the PAN for both materials. There were no differences in sod tensile strength between the 1.5X cake biosolids and inorganic fertilizer control. There were no differences in transplant rooting strength among all treatments. After repeat applications of biosolids, the 0.5X rates did not increase soil extractable phosphorus, while the 1.0X rates steadily increased soil extractable phosphorus at. The 1.0X and 1.5X biosolids rates increased soil organic matter content, but only the 1.5X rate of cake biosolids reduced soil bulk density and mineral matter export at harvest. Overall results indicate that the cake biosolids are an acceptable fertility alternative to inorganic fertilizer, and applications of biosolids for sod production can improve soil quality. Sod growers should consider using biosolids in a rotational system to offset rising production costs and improve production field soil quality.
- Masters Theses