Skip to main content

Coal fly ash utilization in agriculture: its potential benefits and risks

Abstract

Over the past few decades there has been avid interest in developing the strategies for the utilization of Fly ash (FA). Major foci have been on its agricultural application. It is often economical to use FA as a soil amendment. The potential of FA as a resource material in agriculture is due to its specific physical properties like’s texture, water holding capacity, bulk density, pH etc., and contains almost all the essential plant nutrients. It can be used as in soil that cannot substitute the chemical fertilizers or organic manure it can be used in combination with these to get additional benefits in terms of improvement in soil physical characteristics, increased yields etc. The amount and method of FA application in soil would vary with the type of soil, the crop, grown, the prevailing agro climatic condition and also with the FA characteristics. Although, as an input material FA has many benefits for agriculture applications like, improvement of nutrient deficiency, effectively control various pests infesting etc., in contrast FA also contains number of toxic heavy metals and also have natural radioactivity materials in it. Therefore, proper attention should be given on some important areas related to FA utilization such as long term studies of impact of FA on soil health, heavy metal uptake, plant physiology and growth, crop quality, and continuous monitoring on the soil characteristics. While using FA in agriculture problem of heavy metal toxicity and leaching due to excess dose should also be kept in mind.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Adriano DC, Weber JT (2001) Influence of fly ash on soil physical properties and turfgrass establishment. J Environ Qual 30:596–601

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Adriano DC, Woodford TA, Ciravolo TG (1978) Growth and elemental composition of corn and bean seedlings as influenced by soil application of coal ash. J Environ Qual 7:416–421

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Adriano DC, Page AL, Elseewi AA, Chang AC, Straughan I (1980) Utilization and disposal of fly ash and other coal residues in terrestrial ecosystems: a review. J Environ Qual 9:333–344

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Ahmaruzzaman M (2010) A review on the utilization of fly ash. Prog Energy Combust Sci 36(3):327–363

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Aitken RL, Bell LC (1985) Plant uptake and phytotoxicity of boron in Australian fly ashes. Plant Soil 84:245–257

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Aitken RL, Campbell DJ, Bell LC (1984) Properties of Australian fly ash relevant to their agronomic utilization. Aust J Soil Res 22:443–453

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Ajaz S, Tiyagi S (2003) Effect of different concentrations of fly-ash on the growth of cucumber plant, Cucumis sativus. Arch Agron Soil Sci 49:457–461

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Anon (2006) State of the environment, Orissa. Flyash management, vol 3(1), Envis News Letter, Centre for Environmental Studies, Forest and Environment Department, Govt. of Orissa

  9. Basu M, Pande M, Bhadoria PBS, Mahapatra SC (2009) Potential fly-ash utilization in agriculture: a global review. Prog Nat Sci 19:1173–1186

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Bern J (1976) Residues from power generation: processing, recycling and disposal, land application of waste materials, Soil Cons Soc Amer Ankeny, Iowa, pp 226–248

  11. Bhanarkar AD, Gavane AG, Tajne DS, Tamhane SM, Nema P (2008) Composition and size distribution of particules emissions from a coal-fired power plant in India. Fuel 87:2095–2101

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Bhatt MS (2006) Effect of ash in coal on the performance of coal fired thermal power plants. Part I: primary energy effects. Energy Sources Part A 28:25–41

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Bhuiyan MAH, Parvez L, Islam MA, Dampare SB, Suzuki S (2010) Heavy metal pollution of coal mine-affected agricultural soils in the northern part of Bangladesh. J Hazard Mater 173(1–3):384–392

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Bradshaw AD, Chadwick MJ (1980) The restoration of land. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  15. Brake SS, Jensen RR, Mattox JM (2004) Effects of coal fly ash amended soils on trace element uptake in plants. Environ Geol 45:680–689

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Campbell DJ, Fox WE, Aitken RL, Bell LC (1983) Physical characteristics of sands amended with fly ash. Aust J Soil Res 21:147–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Carlson CL, Adriano DC (1993) Environmental impacts of coal combustion residues. J Environ Qual 22:227–247

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Chang AC, Lund LJ, Page AL, Warneke JE (1977) Physical properties of fly ash amended soils. J Environ Qual 6:267–270

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Chen J, Li Y (2006) Coal fly ash as an amendment to container substrate for Spathiphyllum production. Bioresour Technol 97:1920–1926

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Cherkauer DS (1981) The effect of flyash disposal on a shallow ground-water system. Ground Water 18:544–550

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Coles DG, Ragain RC, Ondov JM (1978) Behaviour natural radionuclide in western coalfired power plant. Environ Sci Technol 12:442–446

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Cope F (1962) The development of a soil from an industrial waste ash, Soil Science and Society, Trans Comm IV, V Int Soc Soil Sci, Palmerstown, New Zealand, pp 859–863

  23. Davison RL, Natusch DFS, Wallace JR, Evans CA Jr (1974) Trace elements in fly ash: dependence of concentration on particle size. Environ Sci Technol 8:1107–1113

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Dhadse S, Kumari P, Bhagia LJ (2008) Fly ash characterization, utilization and government initiatives in India-a review. J Sci Indus Res 67:11–18

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Doran JW, Martens DC (1972) Molybdenum availability as influenced by application of fly ash to soil. J Environ Qual 1:186–189

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Dwivedi S, Tripathi RD, Srivastava S, Mishra S, Shukla MK, Tiwari KK, Singh R, Rai UN (2007) Growth performance and biochemical responses of three rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivars grown in fly-ash amendment soil. Chemosphere 67:140–151

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Eary LE, Rai D, Mattigod SV, Ainsworth CC (1990) Geochemical factors controlling the mobilization of inorganic constituents from fossil fuel combustion residues. ii. Review of the minor elements. J Environ Qual 19:202–214

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Eisenbud M, Petrow HC (1964) Radioactivity in the atmospheric effluents of power plants that use fossil fuel. Science 144:288–289

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Elseewi AA, Page AL (1984) Molybdenum enrichment of plants grown on fly ash treated soils. J Environ Qual 13:394–398

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Eswaran A, Manivannan K (2007) Effect of foliar application of lignite fly ash on the management of papaya leaf curl disease. Acta Hort (ISHS) 740:271–275. http://www.actahort.org/books/740/740_33.htm

  31. Fail JL, Wochok ZS (1977) Soyabean growth on fly ash amended strip mine spoils. Plant Soil 48:473–484

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Foo KY, Hameed BH (2009) Value-added utilization of oil palm ash: a superior recycling of the industrial agricultural waste. J Hazard Mater 172:523–531

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. Furr AK, Parkinson TF, Hinrichs RA, Van Campen DR, Bache CA, Gutenmann WH, John St Jr, Pakkala LE, Lisk DJ (1977) National survey of elements and radioactivity in fly ashes. Absorption of elements by cabbage grown in fly ash soil mixtures. Environ Sci Technol 11:1194–1201

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. Gangloff WJ, Ghodrati M, Sims JT, Vasilas BL (1997) Field study: influence of fly ash on leachate composition in an excessively drained soil. J Environ Qual 26:714–723

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. Gatima E, Mwinyihija M, Killham K (2005) Assessment of pulverized fly ash as an ameliorant of lead contaminated soil. Am J Environ Sci 1(3):230–238

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  36. Goetz L (1983) Radiochemical techniques applied to laboratory studies of water leaching of heavy metals from coal fly ash. Water Sci. Tech 15:25–47

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. Gowiak BJ, Pacyna JM (1980) Radiation dose due to atmospheric releases from coal-fired power stations. Int J Environ Stud 16:23–29

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Gupta AK, Sinha S (2006) Role of Brassica juncea L. Czern. (var. vaibhav) in the phytoextraction of Ni from soil amended with fly-ash: selection of extractant for metal bioavailability. J Hazard Mater 136:371–378

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. Gupta AK, Sinha S (2008) Decontamination and/or revegetation of fly ash dykes through naturally growing plants. J Hazard Mater 153:1078–1087

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. Gupta AK, Sinha S (2009) Growth and metal accumulation response of Vigna radiata L. var PDM 54 (mung bean) grown on fly ash-amended soil: effect on dietary intake. Environ Geochem Health 31:463–473

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  41. Gupta DK, Rai UN, Tripathi RD, Inouhe M (2002) Impacts of fly-ash on soil and plant responses. Plant Res 115:401–409

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  42. Gupta AK, Dwivedi S, Sinha S, Tripathi RD, Rai UN, Singh SN (2007) Metal accumulation and growth performance of Phaseolus vulgaris grown in fly-ash amended soil. Bioresour Technol 98:3404–3407

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  43. Haynes RJ (2009) Reclamation and revegetation of fly ash disposal sites—challenges and research needs. J Environ. Manage 90:43–53

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  44. Hodgson DR, Holliday R (1966) The agronomic properties of pulverized fuel ash. Chem Ind 20:785–790

    Google Scholar 

  45. Hodgson DR, Dyer D, Brown DA (1982) Neutralization and dissolution of high-calcium fly-ash. J Environ Qual 11:93–98

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. Huang S, Yue-Hwa Y, Hwong-wen M (2009) The health risk assessment of Pb and Cr leachated from fly ash monolith landfill. J Hazard Mater 172(1):316–323

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  47. Jala S, Goyal D (2006) Fly ash as a soil ameliorant for improving crop production-a review. Bioresour Technol 97:1136–1147

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  48. Jamil S, Abhilash PC, Singh N, Sharma PN (2009) Jatropha curcas: a potential crop for phytoremediation of coal fly ash. J Hazard Mater 17:269–275

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  49. Jayasinghe GY, Tokashiki Y (2006) Utilization of coal fly ash for the production of artificial aggregates as a crop growth medium with acidic ‘‘Kunigami Mahji’’ soils in Okinawa, Japan. J. Solid Waste Manage Technol 32(1):1–9

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  50. Jayasinghe GY, Tokashiki Y, Kitou M (2005) Development of synthetic lightweight soil aggregates utilizing coal fly ash and mine clay as waste materials. Tropic Agric Res Ext 8:1–12

    Google Scholar 

  51. Jayasinghe GY, Tokashiki Y, Kitou M (2007) Assessment and utilization of synthetic soil aggregates developed by using coal fly ash and paper waste. In: Conference proceedings of Agronomy Society of America (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), November 4–8, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA [CD-ROM]. Madison, WI. A Century of Integrating Crops, Soils and Environment

  52. Jayasinghe GY, Tokashiki Y, Kitou M (2008) Characteristics of synthetic soil aggregates produced by mixing acidic ‘‘Kunigami Mahji’’ soil with coal fly ash and their utilization as a medium for crop growth. Soil Sci Plant Nutr 54:264–276

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  53. Jayasinghe GY, Tokashiki Y, Kitou M, Kinjo K (2009) Coal fly ash based synthetic aggregates as potential alternative container substrates for ornamentals. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 172:720–728

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  54. Jayasinghe GY, Tokashiki Y, Kitou M (2010) Use of synthetic soil aggregates as a containerized growth medium component to substitute peat in the ornamental plant production. Arch Agron Soil Sci (in press)

  55. Kalra N, Jain MC, Joshi HC, Choudhary R, Harit RC, Vatsa BK, Sharma SK, Kumar V (1998) Fly ash as a soil conditioner and fertilizer. Bioresour Technol 64:163–167

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  56. Khan MR, Khan MW (1996) The effect of fly-ash on plant growth and yield of tomato. Environ Pollut 92:105–111

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  57. Kopsick D, Angino EE (1981) Effect of leachate solutions from fly and bottom ash on groundwater quality. J Hydrol 54:341–356

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  58. Kumar V, Goswami G, Zacharia KA (1998) Fly ash use in agriculture: issues and concern. Intl. Conf. Fly Ash Disposal and Utilisation, 20–22nd Jan., New Delhi

  59. Li Q, Chen J, Li Y (2008) Heavy metal leaching from coal fly ash amended container substrates during Syngonium production. J Environ Sci Health Part B 43:179–186

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  60. Marchner H (1995) Mineral nutrition of higher plants. Academic Press, New York, pp 1–260

    Google Scholar 

  61. Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) (2007) Notification, fly ash notification 2007, Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi (3rd April 2007)

  62. Mishra LC, Shukla KN (1986) Effects of fly ash deposition on growth, metabolism and dry matter production of maize and soyabean. Environ Pollut 42:1–13

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  63. Mishra M, Sahu RK, Padhy RN (2007) Growth, yield and elemental status of rice (Oryza sativa) grown in fly ash amended soils. Ecotoxicology 16:271–278

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  64. Mittra BN, Karmakar S, Swain DK, Ghosh BC (2005) Fly-ash a potential source of soil amendment and a component of integrated plant nutrient supply system. Fuel 84:1447–1451

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  65. Narayanasamy P, Gnanakumar D (1989) A. Lignite fly-ash: a nonpolluting substance for tackling pest problems. In: Devaraj KV (ed) Progress in pollution research. University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, pp 201–206

    Google Scholar 

  66. Natusch DFS, Wallace JR (1974) Urban aerosol toxicity: the influence of particle size. Science 186:695–699

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  67. Page AL, Elseewi AA, Straughan IR (1979) Physical and chemical properties of fly ash from coal-fired power plants with special reference to environmental impacts. Residue Rev 71:83–120

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  68. Pandey VC, Singh N (2010) Impact of fly ash incorporation in soil systems. Agric Ecosys Environ 136:16–27

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Pandey V, Mishra J, Singh SN, Singh N, Yunus M, Ahmad KJ (1994) Growth response of Helianthus annuus L. grown on fly-ash amended soil. J Environ Biol 15:117–125

    Google Scholar 

  70. Pandey VC, Abhilash PC, Upadhyay RN, Tewari DD (2009) Application of fly ash on the growth performance and translocation of toxic heavy metals within Cajanus cajan L.: implication for safe utilization of fly ash for agricultural production. J Hazard Mater 166:255–259

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  71. Papastefanou C (2008) Radioactivity of coals and fly ashes. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 275:29–35

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  72. Parisara (2007) Utility bonanza from dust, ENVIS newsletter, Department of forests, ecology and environment, Government of Karnataka, vol. 2 no. 6, January 2007

  73. Pathan SM, Aylmore LAG, Colmer TD (2003) Soil properties and turf growth on a sandy soil amended with fly ash. Plant Soil 256:103–114

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  74. Phung HT, Lund LJ, Page AL (1978) Potential use of fly ash as a liming material. In: AdrianoDC, Brisbin IL (eds) Environmental chemistry and cycling processes, CONF-760429, US Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA, pp 504–515

  75. Plank CO, Martens DC (1974) Boron availability as influenced by application of fly ash to soil. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 38:974–977

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  76. Rai UN, Gupta DK, Akhtar M, Pal A (2003) Performance of seed germination and growth of Vicia faba L. in fly-ash amended soil. J Environ Biol 24:9–15

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  77. Rajamane NP (2003) Making concrete ‘green’ through use of fly ash. Green Business Opportun 9:22–29

    Google Scholar 

  78. Ram LC, Masto RE (2010) An appraisal of the potential use of fly ash for reclaiming coal mine spoil. J Environ Manage 91(3):603–617

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  79. Rautaray SK, Ghosh BC, Mittra BN (2003) Effect of fly ash, organic wastes and chemical fertilizers on yield, nutrient uptake, heavy metal content and residual fertility in a rice-mustard cropping sequence under acid lateritic soils. Bioresour Technol 90:275–283

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  80. Rohriman FA (1971) Analysing the effect of fly ash on water pollution. Power 115:76–77

    Google Scholar 

  81. Saleem S, Ansari AA (2003) Effect of aqueous coal-ash leachate on growth and yield of Brassica campestris L. Cv. Kranti Chapka. Vegetos 16:77–80

    Google Scholar 

  82. Sankari SA, Narayanasamy P (2007) Bio-efficacy of fly-ash based herbal pesticides against pests of rice and vegetables. Curr. Sci 92:811–816

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  83. Schutter ME, Fuhrmann JJ (2001) Soil microbial community responses to fly ash amendment as revealed by analyses of whole soils and bacterial isolates. Soil Biol Biochem 33:1947–1958

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  84. Sharma S, Fulekar MH, Jayalakshmi CP, Straub CP (1989) Fly ash dynamics in soil-water systems. Crit Rev Environ Control 19:251–275

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  85. Singh A, Agrawal SB (2010) Response of mung bean cultivars to fly ash: Growth and yield. Ecotox and Environ Safety (in press). doi:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2010.07.023

  86. Singh LP, Siddiqui ZA (2003) Effects of fly ash and Helminthosporium oryzae on growth and yield of three cultiver of rice. Bioresour Technol 86:73–78

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  87. Singh N, Yunus M (2000) Environmental impacts of fly-ash. In: Iqbal M, Srivastava PS, Siddiqui TO (eds) Environmental hazards: plant and people. CBS, New Delhi, pp 60–79

    Google Scholar 

  88. Singh N, Singh SN, Yunus M, Ahmad KJ (1994) Growth response and element accumulation in Beta vulgaris L. raised in fly-ash amended soils. Ecotoxicology 3:287–298

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  89. Singh SN, Kulshreshtha K, Ahmad KJ (1997) Impact of fly ash soil amendment on seed germination, seedling growth and metal composition of Vicia faba L. Ecol Eng 9:203–208

    Article  Google Scholar 

  90. Sinha S, Gupta AK (2005) Translocation of metals from fly ash amended soil in the plant of Sesbania cannabina L. Ritz: effect on antioxidants. Chemosphere 61:1204–1214

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  91. Socˇo E, Kalembkiewicz J (2009) Investigations on Cr mobility from coal fly ash. Fuel 88:1513–1519

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  92. Speight JG (2005) Handbook of coal analysis. Wiley Interscience, John Wiley and Sons, Inc, Hoboken, New Jersey

    Book  Google Scholar 

  93. Srivastava SK (2003) Recovery of sulphur from very high ash fuel and fine distributed pyritic sulphur containing coal using ferric sulphate. Fuel Process Technol 84:37–46

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  94. Srivastava K, Farooqui A, Kulshreshtha K, Ahmed KJ (1995) Effect of fly ash amended soil on growth of Lactuca sativa L. J Environ Biol 16:93–96

    Google Scholar 

  95. Tadmore J (1986) Radioactivity from coal-fired power plants: a review. J Environ Radioact 4:177–204

    Article  Google Scholar 

  96. Theis TL, Westrick JD, Hsu CL, Marley JJ (1978) Field investigation of trace metals in groundwater from fly ash disposal. J Water Pollut Control Fed 50:2457–2469

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  97. Thy P, Jenkins BM, Grundvig S, Shiraki R, Lesher CE (2006) High temperature elemental losses and mineralogical changes in common biomass ashes. Fuel 85:783–795

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  98. Townsend WN, Gillham EWF (1975) Pulverized fuel ash as a medium for plant growth. In: Chadwick MJ, Goodman GT (eds) The ecology of resource degradation and renewal. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, pp 287–304

    Google Scholar 

  99. Tripathi RD, Vajpayee P, Singh N, Rai UN, Kumar A, Ali MB, Kumar B, Yunus M (2004) Efficacy of various amendments for amelioration of fly ash toxicity: growth performance and metal composition of Cassia siamea Lamk. Chemosphere 54:1581–1588

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  100. Vollmer AT, Turner FB, Straughan IR, Lyons CL (1982) Effects of coal precipitator ash on germination and early growth of desert annuals. Environ Exp Bot 22:409–413

    Article  Google Scholar 

  101. Wang W, Qin Y, Song D, Wang K (2008) Column leaching of coal and its combustion residues, Shizuishan, China. Int J Coal Geol 75(2):81–87

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  102. Wong JWC, Lai KM (1996) Effect of an artificial soil mix from coal fly ash and sewage sludge on soil microbial activity. Biol Fertil Soils 23:420–424

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  103. Wong MH, Wong JWC (1986) Effects of fly ash on soil microbial activity. Environ Pollut Ser A 40:127–144

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  104. Yunusa IAM, Eamus D, DeSilva DL, Murray BR, Burchett MD, Skilbeck GC, Heidrich C (2006) Fly-ash: an exploitable resource for management of Australian agricultural soils. Fuel 85:2337–2344

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  105. Zielinski RA, Finkelman RB (1997) Radioactive elements in coal and fly ash: abundance, forms, and environmental significance. US Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-163-97. Available from: http://www.acaa.usa.org/PDF/FS-163-97.pdf

Download references

Acknowledgments

Authors are thankful to USM for necessary help (Grant number 304/PTEKIND/6310003). Dr. Rajeev Pratap Singh is thankful to Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia for offering Post Doctoral Fellowship and giving opportunity in esteemed organization. Dr Amit K Gupta is thankful to University Of Ulsan, Korea, for offering Brain Korea-21 Post Doctoral Fellowship. Dr. R.P. Singh is also thankful to Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi for awarding Senior Research Fellowship.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rajeev Pratap Singh.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Singh, R.P., Gupta, A.K., Ibrahim, M.H. et al. Coal fly ash utilization in agriculture: its potential benefits and risks. Rev Environ Sci Biotechnol 9, 345–358 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11157-010-9218-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Agricultural application
  • Heavy metal
  • Plant growth
  • Metal accumulation