Runoff phosphorus losses from surface-applied biosolids

H. A. Elliott, R. C. Brandt, G. A. O'Connor

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69 Scopus citations


Runoff losses of dissolved and particulate phosphorus (P) may occur when rainfall interacts with manures and biosolids spread on the soil surface. This study compared P levels in runoff losses from soils amended with several P sources, including 10 different biosolids and dairy manure (untreated and treated with Fe or Al salts). Simulated rainfall (71 mm h-1) was applied until 30 min of runoff was collected from soil boxes (100 × 20 × 5 cm) to which the P sources were surfaced applied. Materials were applied to achieve a common plant available nitrogen (PAN) rate of 134 kg PAN ha-1, resulting in total P loading rates from 122 (dairy manure) to 555 (Syracuse N-Viro biosolids) kg P ha-1. Two biosolids produced via biological phosphorus removal (BPR) wastewater treatment resulted in the highest total dissolved phosphorus (13-21.5 mg TDP L-1) and total phosphorus (18-27.5 mg TP L-1) concentrations in runoff, followed by untreated dairy manure that had statistically (p = 0.05) higher TDP (8.5 mg L-1) and TP (10.9 mg L-1) than seven of the eight other biosolids. The TDP and TP in runoff from six biosolids did not differ significantly from unamended control (0.03 mg TDP L-1; 0.95 mg TP L-1). Highest runoff TDP was associated with P sources low in Al and Fe. Amending dairy manure with Al and Fe salts at 1:1 metal-to-P molar ratio reduced runoff TP to control levels. Runoff TDP and TP were not positively correlated to TP application rate unless modified by a weighting factor reflecting the relative solubility of the P source. This suggests site assessment indices should account for the differential solubility of the applied P source to accurately predict the risk of P loss from the wide variety of biosolids materials routinely land applied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1632-1639
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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