Excessive N and P in surface waters can promote eutrophication (algae-dominated, low-O 2 waters), which decreases water quality and aquatic life. Duckweed (Lemnaceae), a floating aquatic plant, rapidly absorbs N and P from water and its composition shows strong potential as a soil amendment. Therefore, it may be used to transfer N and P from eutrophic water bodies to agricultural fields. In this work, dried duckweed was incorporated into agricultural soil in microcosm, column, and field tests to evaluate biological N cycling, nutrient retention, and crop yield compared with compost, diammonium phosphate (DAP), and an amendment-free control. In microcosm tests, 25 ± 13% of duckweed N was mineralized, providing on average less mineral N than DAP (107 ± 21%), but more than compost (11 ± 12%). In columns, duckweed treatments leached only 2% of the N added, significantly less than DAP, which leached 60% of its N. Compared with the control, DAP leached significantly more phosphate (78%), whereas duckweed and compost treatments leached less (56 and 27%, respectively). Crop yield, as well as runoff N and P, were measured in field tests growing forage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench.]. Although less total N was applied to duckweed plots than to DAP plots (75 vs. 130 kg ha −1 , respectively), duckweed was found to retain 30% more total mineral N in a tilled agricultural field than DAP, while supporting a comparable yield. These tests indicate that duckweed may provide a sustainable source of N and P for agriculture.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law