Clean air legislation has resulted in increased production of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) by-products by coal-fired boilers. Use of FGD byproducts as substitutes for agricultural limestone represents a potential beneficial use alternative to landfill disposal of these materials. To determine the efficacy and potential for environmental impact of such use, an 8-month greenhouse study was conducted in which three dry FGD byproducts were mixed with Wooster silt loam at rates of 0, 3.5, 7, 14, and 28 g kg-1. Separate pots were planted with alfalfa (Medicago sativa, L) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea, Schreb). Following a 3-month growth period, plants were harvested monthly for a total of six harvests. Pots were leached at the beginning and end of the experiment. All three FGD byproducts increased soil pH from 4.5 to approximately 7.5. Leachate concentrations of Ca, Mg, and S were increased by FGD, indicating a potential for transport of these solutes to subjacent soil. Leachate Mn and Zn concentrations were decreased by FGD amendment of alfalfa, and leachate Al was decreased with both crops. Leachate trace element concentrations were not increased by FGD with the exceptions of B and Cu. Alfalfa yield was increased by FGD, although the largest amendments suppressed yields of the first two harvests. Fescue yield was also increased by FGD amendment although the response was less than with alfalfa. Plant tissue contents of Ca, Mg, and S were increased by FGD. There were no increases in tissue concentrations of any trace elements except B and Mo. Dry FGD by-products appear to be effective substitutes for agricultural limestone with little potential for adverse environmental impacts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Soil Science