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Biosolids Fertilization for Dryland Pacific Northwest Wheat Production Public Deposited

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  • The fertilizer value of anaerobically-digested, dewatered biosolids in dryland cereal cropping systems was evaluated at six locations in central and eastern Washington (25 to 35 cm annual precipitation zone). Biosolids were applied at rates of 3 to 20 Mg/ha (approximately 150 to 900 kg N/ha). We measured increases in soil nutrient levels [phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), and zinc (Zn)] with biosolids fertilization that will contribute to increased site productivity for one or more cropping cycles. Biosolids fertilization at 300 kg N/ha produced yields equal to inorganic N fertilizers (anhydrous/aqua ammonia or ammonium nitrate) applied at 55 kg N/ha. Biosolids applied at 300 kg N/ha supplied more than enough N for maximum yield as demonstrated by higher grain N, higher grain N uptake, and lower grain test weight compared to inorganic N fertilization. Increasing the biosolids application rate to 600 kg N/ha reduced grain yield due to lodging and grain shrivel, and resulted in high levels of postharvest soil nitrate-N. Biosolids increased grain production by increasing spike number and kernels per spike. These visual responses were offset by reduced grain kernel weight with biosolids fertilization. We conclude that biosolids rates of approximately 300 kg N/ha will provide maximum benefits for wheat growers in the 25 to 35 cm precipitation zone in the Pacific Northwest. Future research is needed to identify wheat varieties which respond best to biosolids fertilization.
  • Keywords: biosolids application rate, dryland wheat, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, zinc fertilizer value, grain yield, grain N, soil nitrate.
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  • Sullivan, D.M., A.I. Bary, J.A. Kropf, and D.M. Granatstein. 1995. Biosolids fertilization for dryland Pacific Northwest wheat production. In: Proc. USEPA Biosolids Symposium: Effects of land application of biosolids in arid and semi-arid environments. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. 16-19 May 1995.
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  • Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
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