Utilization of coal combustion by-products in turfgrass culture
Schlossberg, Maxim J
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Coal combustion by-products (CCBP) include fly ash (FA) and cinder-like bottom ash (BA). These products contain plant nutrients, have variable capacities to neutralize soil acidity, and possess physical properties similar to soil. Thus, CCBP are usefully applied in agricultural, horticultural, and land reclamation settings. A series of studies were conducted to determine the feasibility of CCBP as growth media in (1) production of turfgrass sod, (2) as aggregate for construction of golf course putting greens, and (3) as an acid neutralizer/lime-substitute for amelioration of acidic conditions in turfgrass soils. In the sod production component, growth media were uniformly spread at rates of 200, 300, and 400 m3 ha-1 on compacted soil and sprigged with bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.)]. The study was duplicated the next year, except mix formulations were slightly altered and applied at rates of 400 m3 ha-1. Following 99-114-d maturation periods, sod was harvested and installed off-site. Sod containing CCBP [particularly fly ash (FA)] retained significantly more plant-available volumetric water, while possessing 11-39% less total weight than control or retail sod. A greenhouse study was conducted to examine sand-sized bottom ash (BA) and silt-sized FA substitutes in the root-mix of constructed putting greens. Physicochemical properties of the root-mixes were analyzed following establishment of creeping bentgrass [Agrostis palustris L.], collection of percolate, and application of compaction forces typically-encountered in putting green use. Levels of nutrients and regulated metals in leachate varied by root mix, but declined over time. Over the 18-month study, nutrient and regulated metal concentrations in leaf tissue varied with mix-type and days since planting with interactions. Physical properties of the root-mixes containing CCBP were adversely affected by compaction treatments, especially at the playing surface. A study conducted on a local golf course examined the potential value of Class-C FA (highly alkaline) as a lime substitute and micronutrient fertilizer. Soil samples taken one year following showed the FA substitute was highly efficacious. Trace element concentrations in all treatments were below regulatory limits for land applications. Excepting the putting green application, use of CCBP as supplemental growth media/soil amendments was advantageous and cost effective.