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One-time Application of Biosolids to Ungrazed Semiarid Rangelands: 14-year Soil Responses

E. Avery, M. Krzic, B. Wallace, R.F. Newman, S.M. Smukler, and G.E. Bradfield. 2018.


Biosolids have been shown to improve forage production and soil quality on semiarid rangelands in the short term, but less is known about longer-term impacts of one-time biosolids applications. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of a single, surface biosolids application (at 20 dry Mg ha-1 ) on stability of soil aggregates, bulk density, total carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), permanganate-oxidizable carbon (POXC), polysaccharides, pH, nutrient availability, and soil water content (all at 0-7.5 cm depth) 14 yr following application to ungrazed rangelands in the Central interior of British Columbia. Fourteen years following the biosolids application, aboveground plant biomass was almost two times greater with biosolids application than on control, while exposed mineral soil and microbiotic crust significantly decreased in biosolids plots. Despite differences in above- ground biomass, there was no difference in total soil C and N, POXC, and polysaccharides between biosolids and control plots. Biosolids-amended soil did exhibit significantly greater mean weight diameter of water-stable aggregates, lower pH, increased spring soil water content, and increased availability of Fe+3 , Zn+2 , Cu+2 , and phosphate ions. These findings indicate that the long-term improvements to soil on ungrazed rangeland are possible even from a single biosolids application.

Key Words

soil structure, native grassland, soil quality, permanganate-oxidizable carbon, polysaccharides.