Composted biosolids as a source of iron for hybrid poplars (Populus sp.) grown in northwest New Mexico
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- Lombard, K., O’Neill, M., Heyduck, R. et al. Agroforest Syst (2011) 81: 45. doi:10.1007/s10457-010-9334-7
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Composted sewage sludge (biosolids) supply plant available Fe and may represent a sustainable alternative to more costly chelated Fe fertilizers currently used to supplement nutrition in hybrid poplar test plots of elevated soil pH. To test the response of poplars, field plots were amended with composted biosolids at two agricultural rates: 22.75 and 44.5 Mg ha−1. Iron EDDHA served as a fertilizer check and control plots received no amendment. The hybrid poplar OP-367 (Populus deltoides × P. nigra) was planted on a 3.6 m grid spacing. Significant amounts of P and Fe originating from the sewage treatment process were detected in soils 13 months after amending. Chlorosis evaluated with a SPAD-502 meter, showed that poplars amended with biosolids remained the least chlorotic and had greater tree growth when compared to Fe EDDHA and control plots during two growing seasons. Biosolids show promise as a cost effective alternative for the remediation of Fe chlorosis in hybrid poplar agroforestry plantations and present new opportunities in northwestern New Mexico for municipalities seeking solid waste land disposal options.