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Growth of perennials and leaching of heavy metals in media amended with a municipal leaf sewage sludge and street sand compost

Growth of perennials and leaching of heavy metals in media amended with a municipal leaf sewage sludge and street sand compost

Journal of Environmental Horticulture 9(1): 47-50

Municipal leaves, sewage sludge, and street sand were composted by a modified Belstsvile aerated pile technique. Rooted cuttings of Aster novi-belgii L. 'Peter Harrison,' Gaura lindheimeri Engelm. and A. Gray and Sedum purpurem (L.) Link 'Autumn Joy' were grown for 4 months in 2 l (2qt) containers filled with media containing 0, 10, 30, 60, 80, and 100 percent (percent by vol) compost. The medium with 0% compost contained loamy sand topsoil, peat, sand and Styrofoam pellets (1:5:2:2 by vol). The pH of all media were between 6.0 and 7.0. Half the containers in each treatment received liquid fertilization in mid-season and half did not. Leachate from the containers was collected at monthly intervals and analyzed for the heavy metals Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn to determine their potential for leaching. Growth of pernennials was equal or greater in all media containign compost, compared to the medium containing no compost. Liquid fertilization further improved growth. Adding compost increased media aeration, available plant nutrients and heavy metals and decreased moisture retention and bulk density. Heavy metal concentrations in leachate were low, probably due to the near neutral media pH, and not likely to pose an environmental risk.

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