Assessing the performance of phosphorus-saturated ochre as a fertilizer and its environmental acceptability

K. E. Dobbie, Katherine Heal, Keith Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Flooding of abandoned coal mines often causes discharges of iron-rich drainage water into the environment. Treatment of these discharges results in the formation of ochre (hydrous iron oxides) for which no end-use has been identified. Ochre effectively adsorbs phosphate from solution and thus could be used for remediation of waste waters. The resulting P-enriched ochre could then potentially be recycled as a P fertilizer. Pot and field experiments were set up to assess performance and environmental acceptability of ochre in this role, using grass and barley as test crops, as well as birch and spruce tree seedlings. Soils and plant materials were analysed for total and available P, total metals and pH. Results showed that P-saturated ochre functioned as a slow-release P fertilizer, and in the short term was as effective as conventional P fertilizer in maintaining crop yields. It also raised soil pH, and did not pose any significant problem through introduction of potentially toxic trace metals into the soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalSoil Use and Management
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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