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Publication Abstract

Two-year Study of Alum Sludge Application to Corn and Soybean Farmland Lin, Shundar, and C. David Green, 1990  Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, IL,  ISWS RI-113    Full Text Available

A two-year field study was conducted to assess the impact of applying air-dried alum sludge to farmland used for growing corn and soybeans. The study was carried out at the Northwestern Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center of the University of Illinois. Alum sludge was applied at four rates (0,2.5, 10, and 20 tons/acre) with three replicate test plots for each rate. Sludge was applied once, in the first year of the study (1986).

Determinations were made of the effects of alum sludge application on soil properties, corn and soybean yields, and plant parameters. Determinations also were made of the uptake and accumulation of heavy metals and nutrient levels in whole plants, leaf tissues, and grains. The collected data were analyzed by the least-significant-differences method.

The 29 soil properties measured showed no significant effects of the alum sludge applications in either corn or soybean plots. Differences in corn yields were observed only in 1986; however, these were not due to alum sludge applications. For both years, other corn plant parameters and soybean yield and plant parameters were not affected by alum sludge applications. The levels of plant nutrients and heavy metals in grains, whole plants, and leaves were also not significantly changed by the alum sludge applications.

Application of air-dried alum sludge to farmland appeared to have no beneficial or adverse effects on soil and crops, and led to no apparent environmental degradation. Therefore it may be a feasible alternative for sludge disposal.

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