Amending constructed roadside and urban soils with large volume-based compost applications: effects on water quality



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Texas A&M University


Mineral nutrients imported in composted dairy manure (CDM) and municipal biosolid (CMB) amendments for highway-rights-of-way and urban landscapes can pose a threat to surface water quality. Treatments were developed to evaluate recommendations for amending roadside and urban soils with compost at large volumebased rates. Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recommendations were evaluated in 2002 and 2003. Municipal recommendations were evaluated in 2004. Treatments were imposed on 4 by 1.5-m field plots on a constructed soil with an 8.5% slope. Three TxDOT compost application methods were tested; incorporation at 25% by volume (CMT), topdressing over vegetation (GUC), and topdressing a 5-cm compost woodchip mix over bare soil (ECC). In 2003, a 12.5% CMT treatment was substituted for the GUC, and two contrasting composts were compared. In 2002, soil test phosphorus (STP) concentrations (mg kg-1) were 291, 360, 410, and 1921 mg kg-1 in the 0 to 5-cm layer of a course textured CMT, fine textured CMT, GUC, and ECC treatments, respectively using CDM. In 2003, STP concentrations were 264, 439, 496,623, 1115, and 2203 mg kg-1, in the 0 to 5-cm layer after incorporation of CDM and CMB at the 12.5 and 25% volume-based rates, and topdressing the 5-cm CDM- or CMB-woodchip mix over bare soil, respectively. In 2004, contrasting CMB products, relatively low or high in total phosphorus (TP) were incorporated into the soil at 12.5 and 25% by volume, or imported in transplanted sod at the 25% by volume rate. The STP concentrations were 87, 147, 180, 301, 322, and 544 mg kg-1, respective to the previously defined treatments. Runoff water from 14, 10, and 8 natural rain events was used to characterize nutrient and sediment transport in 2002, 2003, and 2004, respectively. Concentration of TDP in runoff water was highly variable for roadside treatments across rain events. Mass losses of TDP were similar after CDM or CMB were incorporated into the soil at 12.5 and 25% by volume. Compost incorporation was the most effective method for limiting TP loss in runoff. Roadway and urban soils are expected to contribute greater TP losses as P concentration increases in soils.