Phosphorus Leaching in Soils Amended with Piggery Effluent or Lime Residues from Effluent Treatment

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Environmental Pollution


phosphorus, leaching, lime residue, piggery effluent, struvite


Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Soil Science | Water Resource Management


Phosphorus (P) in wastes from piggeries may contribute to the eutrophication of waterways if not disposed of appropriately. Phosphorus leaching, from three soils with different P sorption characteristics (two with low P retention and one with moderate P retention) when treated with piggery effluent (with or without struvite), was investigated using batch and leaching experiments. The leaching of P retained in soil from the application of struvite effluent was determined. In addition, P leaching from lime residues (resulting from the treatment of piggery effluent with lime to remove P) was determined in comparison to superphosphate when applied to the same three soils. Most P was leached from sandy soils with low P retention when effluent with or without struvite was applied. More than 100% of the filterable P applied in struvite effluent was leached in sandy soils with low P retention. Solid, inorganic forms of P (struvite) became soluble and potentially leachable at pH < 7 or were sorbed after dissolution if there were sufficient sorption sites. In sandy soils with low P retention, more than 39% of the total filterable P applied in recycled effluent (without struvite) was leached. Soil P increased mainly in surface layers after treatment with effluent. Sandy soils pre-treated with struvite effluent leached 40% of the P retained in the previous application. Phosphorus decreased in surface layers and increased at depth in the soil with moderate P retention after leaching the struvite effluent pre-treated soil with water. The soils capacity to adsorb P and the soil pH were the major soil properties that affected the rate and amount of P leaching, whereas the important characteristics of the effluent were pH, P concentration and the forms of P in the effluent. Phosphorus losses from soils amended with hydrated lime and lime kiln dust residues were much lower than losses from soils amended with superphosphate. Up to 92% of the P applied as superphosphate was leached from sandy soils with low P retention, whereas only up to 60% of the P applied in lime residues was leached. The P source contributing least to P leaching was the lime kiln dust residue. The amount of P leached depended on the water-soluble P content, netralising value and application rate of the P source, and the pH and P sorption capacity of the soil.