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Suitability of fresh and aged paper sludge as soil amendments.

... There is evidence that SPF can be an effective component of manufactured topsoil and used as a soil amendment (Li and Daniels 1997;Carpenter and Fernandez 2000;Evanylo et al. 2004). Preliminary work suggests that the residuals may be used in mine reclamation activities when topsoil is not available (Laubenstein 2004;Daniels et al. 2013). ...
Maximizing the use of onsite material to create topsoil has the potential to reduce costs for mine reclamation in the eastern United States. This study evaluated the addition of short paper fiber (SPF), a by-product of paper mill processing, to coarse coal refuse (CCR) to aid in vegetation establishment. Vegetation growth in two blends of SPF and CCR (80% CCR with 20% SPF; 60% CCR with 40% SPF) was compared to growth in refuse. Ground cover was monitored weekly, and biomass was measured. The SPF/CCR blends resulted in significantly higher ground cover and biomass than the refuse alone. Therefore, the addition of SPF shows potential to support vegetation establishment in CCR. Ground cover reached the minimum level needed for environmental permit release (70%) for both SPF/CCR blends, but ground cover decreased to below 50% on average by the end of the study. Further study should be completed at a large scale.
Two environmental problems in Pennsylvania are degraded mined lands and excess manure nutrients from intensive animal production. Manure could be used in mine reclamation, but the large application rates required for sustained biomass production could result in significant nutrient discharge. An abandoned mine site in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, was used to test manure nutrient stabilization by composting and by mixing with primary paper mill sludge (PMS). Reclamation treatments were lime and fertilizer, composted poultry manure (78 and 156 Mg ha), and poultry manure (50 Mg ha) mixed with PMS (103 and 184 Mg ha) to achieve C-to-N ratios of 20 and 29. Leachates were collected with zero-tension lysimeters, and during 3 yr following amendment application, <1% of added N leached from the compost treatments. The manure+PMS C:N 29 treatment leached more N than any other treatment (393 kg N ha during 3 yr, 12.4 times more N than compost treatments), mostly as pulses of NO in the first two fall seasons following reclamation. The manure+PMS C:N 20 treatment leached 107 kg N ha during 3 yr. Three years after amendment application, most of the N and P added with the manure-based amendments was retained in the mine soil even though net immobilization of N by PMS appeared to be limited to 3 mo following application. Composting or mixing PMS with manure to achieve a C-to-N ratio of 20 can effectively minimize N leaching, retain added N in mine soil, and provide greater improvement in soil quality than lime and fertilizer amendment.
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