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Application of organic amendments to restore degraded soil: effects on soil microbial properties

  • Jennifer Carlson
  • Jyotisna Saxena
  • Nicholas Basta
  • Lakhwinder Hundal
  • Dawn Busalacchi
  • Richard P. Dick
Article

Abstract

Topsoil removal, compaction, and other practices in urban and industrial landscapes can degrade soil and soil ecosystem services. There is growing interest to remediate these for recreational and residential purposes, and urban waste materials offers potential to improve degraded soils. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare the effects of urban waste products on microbial properties of a degraded industrial soil. The soil amendments were vegetative yard waste compost (VC), biosolids (BioS), and a designer mix (DM) containing BioS, biochar (BC), and drinking water treatment residual (WTR). The experiment had a completely randomized design with following treatments initiated in 2009: control soil, VC, BioS-1 (202 Mg ha−1), BioS-2 (403 Mg ha−1), and DM (202 Mg BioS ha−1 plus BC and WTR). Soils (0–15-cm depth) were sampled in 2009, 2010, and 2011 and analyzed for enzyme activities (arylsulfatase, β-glucosaminidase, β-glucosidase, acid phosphatase, fluorescein diacetate, and urease) and soil microbial community structure using phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA). In general, all organic amendments increased enzyme activities in 2009 with BioS treatments having the highest activity. However, this was followed by a decline in enzyme activities by 2011 that were still significantly higher than control. The fungal PLFA biomarkers were highest in the BioS treatments, whereas the control soil had the highest levels of the PLFA stress markers (P < 0.10). In conclusion, one-time addition of VC or BioS was most effective on enzyme activities; the BioS treatment significantly increased fungal biomass over the other treatments; addition of BioS to soils decreased microbial stress levels; and microbial measures showed no statistical differences between BioS and VC treatments after 3 years of treatment.

Keywords

Degraded soil Organic amendments Microbial properties Soil enzyme activities 

Abbreviations

BC

Biochar

BioS

Biosolids

VC

Vegetative yard waste compost

DM

A designer mix

WTR

Drinking water treatment residual

FDA

Fluorescein diacetate

PLFA

Phospholipid fatty acid

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported in part by the Ecosystem Services Study of Degraded Soils Amended with Biosolids Program (Requisition number 1273877), Division of Monitoring and Research of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Chicago, USA.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Carlson
    • 1
  • Jyotisna Saxena
    • 1
  • Nicholas Basta
    • 1
  • Lakhwinder Hundal
    • 2
  • Dawn Busalacchi
    • 3
  • Richard P. Dick
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Monitoring and Research DepartmentMetropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater ChicagoCiceroUSA
  3. 3.Ohio Environmental Protection AgencyColumbusUSA

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