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The effect of lignite on nitrogen mobility in a low-fertility soil amended with biosolids and urea


Lignite has been proposed as a soil amendment that reduces nitrate (NO3−) leaching from soil. Our objective was to determine the effect of lignite on nitrogen (N) fluxes from soil amended with biosolids or urea. The effect of lignite on plant yield and elemental composition was also determined. Batch sorption and column leaching experiments were followed by a lysimeter trial where a low fertility soil was amended with biosolids (400 kg N/ha equivalent) and urea (200 kg N/ha equivalent). Treatments were replicated three times, with and without lignite addition (20 t/ha equivalent). Lignite did not reduce NO3− leaching from soils amended with either biosolids or urea. While lignite decreased NO3− leaching from an unamended soil, the magnitude of this effect was not significant in an agricultural context. Furthermore, lignite increased cumulative N2O production from soils receiving urea by 90%. Lignite lessened the beneficial growth effects of adding biosolids or urea to soil. Further work could investigate whether coating urea granules with lignite may produce meaningful environmental benefits.

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