Nutrient Leaching and Soil Retention in Mined Land Reclaimed with Stabilized Manure

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Environmental Quality





First Page


Last Page



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−1), and poultry manure (50 Mg ha−1) mixed with PMS (103 and 184 Mg ha−1) 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 during 3 yr, 12.4 times more N than compost treatments), mostly as pulses of NO3 in the first two fall seasons following reclamation. The manure+PMS C:N 20 treatment leached 107 kg N ha−1 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.