Journal of
Agricultural Extension and Rural Development

  • Abbreviation: J. Agric. Ext. Rural Dev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2170
  • DOI: 10.5897/JAERD
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 415

Full Length Research Paper

Metals in biosolids-amended soils in Western Utah

Linden K. Greenhalgh1*, Michael J. McFarland2, Grant E. Cardon1, Maianh Vutran2, Mark D. Schmitz3 and Robert B. Brobst4
  1Utah State University Cooperative Extension, 8330 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322, USA. 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Utah State University, 4110 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322, USA. 3Utah Department of Environmental Quality, P. O. Box 144870, Salt Lake City, UT 84114, USA. 4U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, 999 18th Street, Suite 500, Denver, CO 80202, USA.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 31 August 2009
  •  Published: 31 October 2009



Land application of biosolids has been shown to benefit degraded rangeland; however, soil metal accumulation has been a concern. To date, nine heavy metals found in land applied biosolids are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Concern increases when application rates exceed the agronomic rate. The objective of this study was to monitor changes in soil metal accumulation from a one-time biosolids surface application on disturbed rangeland in Western Utah. Two types of biosolids, aerobically digested and lime stabilized, were applied at rates up to twenty times (20x) the estimated agronomic rate. Biosolids were not incorporated into the soil. Levels of heavy metals were recorded at five different soil depths, 0.2, 0.6, 0.9, 1.2 and 1.5 m. The one-time application was evaluated over a two year period. No significant consistent trend between metal concentration, biosolids application rate, biosolids type, year, and soil depth was found. It was concluded that metal concentrations in this study were below the cumulative loading rate from the 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 503 rule. These findings can help alleviate concerns about environmental and health risks due to metal accumulation from biosolids land application.


Key words: Biosolids application, biosolids-amended soil, agronomic rate, cumulative loading rate, metal accumulation.