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Effect of Coal Combustion Products in Reducing Soluble Phosphorus in Soil II: Leaching Study


Phosphorus (P) management in agriculture is crucial for both environmental health and future availability of P resource. Application of P as fertilisers (organic or inorganic) often results in either P accumulation in soil or loss to water bodies, rendering them unavailable to crops. In this study, the mobility of inorganic (KH2PO4 (PP)) and organic (poultry manure (PM)) P sources, as affected by coal combustion products (CCPs: fly ash (FA) and fluidised bed combustion ash (FBC)) application to soils, was evaluated using column leaching experiments. The incubated samples were also characterised using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to understand their surface properties in relation to P adsorption and leaching. The results showed differential effects of CCPs to P treatments—in the case of PP, the CCPs decreased P leaching by 12.11 % (FA) and 20.56 % (FBC), whereas in the case of PM treatment, both CCPs increased P in leachates by 35.53 % (FA) and 18.44 % (FBC). The decrease in P leaching for PP-treated soil as affected by CCPs was attributed to high pH and Ca concentration. There was a negative relationship between the increase in CCP-induced pH and P leaching demonstrating that pH plays a crucial role in P immobilisation, transformation and leaching. The increase in P leaching for CCP-incubated–PM-treated soils was because of the mineralisation of organic P from PM. The surface chemistry from XRD and SEM results showed an increased surface area for CCPs-incubated soil compared to the control and also showed the presence of Ca-rich minerals in CCPs such as ettringite, wollastonite and merwinite.

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This study was sponsored by Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), Australia in collaboration with University of South Australia. The authors thank Dr. Mohammad Rahman for the technical assistance with the ICP analysis. The Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (PJ008650042012) at National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea, supported Dr. Kunhikrishnan's contribution.

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Correspondence to Balaji Seshadri.

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Seshadri, B., Bolan, N.S., Kunhikrishnan, A. et al. Effect of Coal Combustion Products in Reducing Soluble Phosphorus in Soil II: Leaching Study. Water Air Soil Pollut 225, 1777 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-013-1777-9

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  • Phosphorus
  • Coal combustion products
  • Leaching
  • Soil pH
  • Calcium concentration