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Fuel 84 (2005) 14471451

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Fly asha potential source of soil amendment and a component


of integrated plant nutrient supply system
B.N. Mittraa, S. Karmakarb, D.K. Swainc, B.C. Ghosha,*
a

Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, WB 721302, India
b
Uttarbanga Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Pundibari, Coochbehar, WB, India
c
Division of Agronomy, Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Orissa 753006, India
Received 19 November 2003; received in revised form 30 September 2004; accepted 7 October 2004
Available online 13 December 2004

Abstract
In sub-tropical climate the high rainfall and high temperature is responsible for low soil productivity due to losses of bases and low organic
matter content in soil. In acid lateritic soil low availability of P and high content of Al and Fe posses nutritional imbalance which is generally
corrected by lime materials. Alkaline fly ash can be used in such problematic soil as an amended material and also it acts as source of plant
nutrition for crop production. An attempt was made to develop an integrated plant nutrient supply system utilizing the fly ash along with other
organic wastes like paper factory sludge, farm yard manure, crop residue and chemical fertilizers for ricepeanut cropping system. Direct and
residual effects of fly ash were assessed based on crop yield, nutrient uptake and changes in soil characteristics. The application 10 t haK1 of
fly ash in combination with organic sources and chemical fertilizer increased the grain yield and nutrient uptake of rice, and pod yield of
peanut compared to chemical fertilizers alone. The heavy metal contents in plant and soil system was analyzed and found to remain below the
permissible level. The results indicated that fly ash could be applied safely to tropical agro eco-systems for retaining productivity of acid
lateritic soil.
q 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Keywords: Fly ash; Integrated plant nutrient supply system; Heavy metal content

1. Introduction
In intensively cropped tropical soil, indiscriminate use of
chemical fertilizers has resulted in low organic matter
content and imbalance in nutrient supply by depletion of
essential micronutrients. Moreover in acidic soil, such
problems are aggravated due to fixation of phosphorus by
iron and aluminium, besides less availability of micronutrient like molybdenum. This has resulted in low and
inconsistent production of crop yield in rice based cropping
systems. This calls for development of an integrated nutrient
management system by supplying organic and inorganic
sources of fertilizers and for improving physical and
chemical properties of soil. One of the possible ways of
enhancing productivity of acid lateritic soil is use of alkaline
* Corresponding author. Tel.: C91 3222 283120; fax: C91 3222
255303/282700/277239.
E-mail address: bcg@agfe.iitkgp.ernet.in (B.C. Ghosh).
0016-2361/$ - see front matter q 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2004.10.019

fly ash and other industrial wastes in combinations with


organic matter and chemical fertilizers which would act as a
soil amendment and source of nutrient. Any increase in soil
pH and thereby reduction in soil acidity will improve
availability of nutrient particularly phosphorus.
Fly ash, a finely divided residue resulting from the
combustion of bituminous coal of thermal power plant is
regarded as an amorphous ferro-alumino, silicate mineral
containing all of the essential elements that occurs naturally
in soil except humus and nitrogen [9]. It has a pH of 8.5 [2]
and has certain physical and chemical properties that might
be useful to neutralize soil acidity [1,8] and improve crop
production [7]. Since it is composed of mostly silt size
particles, addition of fly ash to sandy soils would
permanently alter soil texture, increase microporosity and
improve water retention capacity [3].
Organic materials like farm yard manure, crop residues
and paper factory sludge are commonly used for enrichment
of soil. These materials are readily available from animal

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B.N. Mittra et al. / Fuel 84 (2005) 14471451

and crop production system and as industrial waste. Paper


factory sludge is a rich source of carbon with active silicic
acid [6] and improves soil organic matter contents, water
holding capacity, soil structure and bulk density [10].
Different organic materials with varying C/N ratio and
biochemical compositions release nutrients at different rates
and in varying quantities. It is also known that chemical
fertilizer and organic materials are not substitute for each
others; rather their role is complementary. Therefore, the
application of chemical fertilizer, industrial waste and
agricultural animal waste together may bring changes in the
decomposition process of organic materials and hence are
likely to alter the nutrient release pattern of the soil.
In general, organic sources of fertilizers applied to one
crop meet a part of the requirement of the succeeding crop.
The present investigation was, therefore, conducted to study
the direct and residual effect of fly ash and other sources of
fertilizers applied alone or in an integrated manner on crop
productivity, restoration of soil fertility and nutrient status
in plant in ricepeanut cropping sequence.

2. Materials and methods


The investigation was carried out at the experimental
farm of the Agricultural and Food Engineering Department,
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. The
climate of this region was warm and humid with average
annual rainfall ranging from 1300 to 1600 mm, most of
which received during wet season of June to October. The
soil of the experimental site was acid lateritic, sandy clay
loam (Haplustalf) with pH 5.4, CEC 8.4 c mole kgK1,
organic carbon 3.8 g/kg and total N, P, K 0.045, 0.036,
0.066%, respectively. The available nutrients of different
elements are presented in Table 1a.
Field experiment was conducted with rice (Oryza sativa)
variety IR36 during the wet season (July, 3November, 5)
followed by peanut (Arachis hypogaea) variety JL24 during
dry season (February, 4May, 29). Rice was transplanted in
puddled soil by using 25 days old seedling raised in nursery
bed. The seed rate used in nursery bed was 50 kg haK1. The
crop was irrigated as and when required to maintain a
shallow level of submergence (5G2 cm) throughout the
crop growth period. There was no incidence of pest and
diseases to rice. The peanut seed (kernel) was sown by seed
drill at 90 kg haK1. The crop was irrigated to maintain 75%
available moisture in soil. For control of tikka disease
fungicide (Dithane M-45) was applied as per recommended
dose.
Two sets of experiment were conducted and the
experimental design was randomized complete block with
three replications. The size of each plot was 8.4 m!4.0 m.
For rice the recommended dose of N: P2O5: K2O at 90: 60:
40 kg haK1, respectively, were applied in different treatment combinations except two treatments where fly ash
(FA) was applied alone at 10 t haK1 and an absolute control

Table 1a
Selected properties of soil
Parameter
Texture
Bulk density (g/cm3)
Field capacity (%) at 33 K Pa
Permanent wilting point (%) at 15 K Pa
pH (soil:water, 1:2.5)
CEC (c mole kgK1)
Organic carbon (g/kg)
Total nitrogen (g/kg)
Total phosphorus (g/kg)
Total potash (g/kg)
Total sulphur (g/kg)
Total calcium (g/kg)
Total magnesium (g/kg)
Total iron (g/kg)
Total boron (mg/kg)
Available nitrogen (mg/kg)
Available phosphorus (mg/kg)
Available potassium (mg/kg)
Available calcium (mg/kg)
Available magnesium (mg/kg)
Available sulphur (mg/kg)
Available iron (mg/kg)
Available manganese (mg/kg)
Available zinc (mg/kg)
Available copper (mg/kg)

Sandy silt loam


1.64
14.83
5.72
5.40
8.40
3.80
0.0045
0.0036
0.0066
0.0003
0.0045
0.0039
0.0087
0.50
77.0
13.0
78.0
242.0
51.0
20.0
52.0
7.0
0.84
1.19

treatment where nothing was applied. After harvest of wet


season rice the residual effect of these fertilizer treatments
was studied on the subsequent dry season peanut crop.
Besides residual fertility the crop also received a uniform
dose of N: P2O5: K2O supplied at 30: 60: 40 kg haK1,
respectively, through chemical fertilizer in all treatment
except absolute control. Industrial wastes, viz. FA, paper
factory sludge (PFS), organic manure like farm yard manure
(FYM), crop residue (CR), lime (L) as soil amendment and
chemical fertilizer were used in different combinations. The
physical and chemical properties of the industrial waste
materials and FYM are presented in Table 1b.
Fly ash was applied at 10 t haK1 and organic materials
such as FYM or PFS or CR were applied in quantity to
supply 30 kg N haK1 and lime at 2 t haK1. In another set of
experiment fly ash was applied at 5 t and 10 t haK1 in
combined treatments. Fly ash and organic materials FYM
and PFS were broadcasted and incorporated into the soil.
Crop residue was applied after chopping by mechanical
shredder. Fly ash, different organic wastes, lime and entire
dose of chemical fertilizer P and K and half dose of N
fertilizer were applied as basal at the time of sowing, the
remaining half of N chemical fertilizer was top dressed by
broadcasting in standing crop after 45 days of plantation.
The chemical fertilizer N, P, K were supplied through urea,
single super phosphate and muriate of potash.
Periodic observations on plant growth and yield of rice
and peanut were recorded. The nutrient uptake for N, P, K,
Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu and Co were calculated at harvest of
the crop. Besides accumulation of heavy metals (As, Cd, Ni

B.N. Mittra et al. / Fuel 84 (2005) 14471451


Table 1b
Physical and chemical properties of farm yard manure (FYM), paper
factory sludge (PFS) and fly ash (FA) used in experiments
Parameters

FYM

PFS

FA

Bulk density (g/cm3)


pH
Org. C (g/kg)
N (g/kg)
P (g/kg)
K (g/kg)
Ca (g/kg)
Mg (g/kg)
Fe (g/kg)
Mn (mg/kg)
Zn (mg/kg)
Cu (mg/kg)
B (mg/kg)
Co (mg/kg)
Cd (mg/kg)
As (mg/kg)
Ni (mg/kg)
Se (mg/kg)

0.50
5.92a
2.266
0.125
0.035
0.068
0.020
0.015
0.053
282.60
135.10
44.30

15.30
0.43
5.64
2.56
5.40

0.62
5.45a
2.006
0.071
0.016
0.036
0.014
0.014
0.034
398.20
344.90
126.30

16.30
0.39
6.85
3.12
6.52

0.96
8.47b
0.034
0.005
0.003
0.018
0.042
0.022
0.092
288.20
25.80
21.50
12.00
2.24
0.21
1.23
1.95
3.18

a
b

1449

3. Results and discussion


3.1. Effect on rice

1:5 soil:water slurry.


1:2.5 soil:water slurry.

and Se) and radioactive elements were determined. Soil


samples from 0 to 15 cm depth were collected after harvest
of the crop for physico-chemical analysis. The content of N
in plant tissue was assessed following modified Kjeldahl
method and P, K was analyzed by spectrophotometer and
flame photometer after acid digestion. Other nutrients and
heavy metals were measured by Atomic Absorption
Spectrophotometer (GBC 932 AA). A detailed gamma
spectrophotometric analysis was done for two samples, i.e.
FA and soil treated with FA.
The recorded data were subjected to statistical by
standard analysis of variance technique. The treatment
differences were tested at 5% level of significance.

Combined application of FYM, or PFS or CR as organic


source, FA or lime as amendment and chemical fertilizer
favorably improved dry matter production, yield and
nutrient uptake of rice (Tables 2 and 3). Application of
organic material in combination with the chemical fertilizer
helped in increasing nutrient supplying capacity of the soil
[5] and thus improved soil fertility. Paper factory sludge
combination was similar to FYM combination. The FA
based treatment was superior to lime based treatment in
increasing grain yield of rice. The uptake of nutrients Ca,
Mg, Mn, Zn, Cu, Co was increased under the combined
application of FYM or PFS, FA or L and CF as compared to
CF alone or its combination with organic source. Increase of
uptake of nutrients improved growth and yield of rice.
Application of FA at 10 t haK1 is estimated to add a meager
amount of organic carbon (27 kg) but considerable amount
of phosphorus (32 kg), potassium (25 kg), calcium (33 kg),
magnesium (17 kg), iron (127 kg), manganese (2.8 kg), zinc
(238 gm) and copper (178 gm). However, organic material
like FYM, PFS and CR, supplied substantial quantity of
organic material (5001000 kg) besides supplementing
macro and micronutrients. So blending of FA with any of
the organic material in suitable proportion, form a complete
mixture of organic carbon and nutrients essential for
augmenting the crop yield. Further, the alkaline FA
accelerated the mineralization of organic matter in acid
lateritic [4] soil and also promoted the nutrient supplying
capacity of the soil by raising pH level from 5.3 to 5.9 in
soil. Lime along with organic materials also shows similar
increase in crop yield. Thus, FA has been found to be a soil
amended material as that of lime.

Table 2
Grain and straw yield (kg haK1) of rice and pod and haulm yield (kg haK1) and nodules per plant and yield attributes of peanut as influenced by direct
application of different fertilization treatments on rice and their residual as well as direct effect of chemical fertilizer on peanut in ricepeanut cropping system
Treatment

Control
FA
CF
FACCF
FYMCCF
FACFYMCCF
LCFYMCCF
PFSCCF
FACPFSCCF
LCPFSCCF
CRCCF
FACCRCCF
LSD (pZ0.05)

Rice

Peanut

Grain

Straw

Pod

Haulm

Nodule number
per plant

Hundred kernel
weight (g)

Number of
pod per plant

2019
2208
3745
4014
3998
4210
3761
3980
4174
3734
3948
4088
426

2697
2208
4730
4925
4723
5000
4662
4962
5261
4694
4877
5206
608

1239
2565
2396
2791
2716
2945
3122
2734
2977
3039
2806
2967
408

2566
4600
4625
4725
4624
4789
4779
4433
4771
4666
4812
4979
704

380.04
70.04
60.0
78.5
81.5
95.5
110.2
80.0
94.5
100.6
77.5
89.7
8.4

37.2
40.5
39.4
40.7
39.0
41.2
41.4
39.2
40.5
40.6
40.8
41.2
2.4

9.0
16.0
13.0
17.0
16.8
17.6
17.2
16.2
18.0
18.0
16.5
17.4
3.5

Rice grain
equivalent
yielda (kg/ha)
2559
4310
4868
5496
5406
5798
5784
5406
5809
5666
5482
5753
416

FA, fly ash; CF, chemical fertilizer; FYM, farm yard manure; L, lime; PFS, paper factory sludge; CR, crop residue.
a
Rice equivalent yield is calculated on the basis of value of the produce of rice grain and peanut pod and converted into rice equivalent yield.

1450

B.N. Mittra et al. / Fuel 84 (2005) 14471451

Table 3
Effect of different fertilization sources on total nutrients uptake by wet season rice
Fertilization source

N
(kg haK1)

P
(kg haK1)

K
(kg haK1)

Ca
(kg haK1)

Mg
(kg haK1)

Fe
(g haK1)

Mn
(g haK1)

Zn
(g haK1)

Cu
(g haK1)

Co
(g haK1)

CF
FA10
FYMCCF
FYMCFA10CCF
FYMCFA5CCF
FYMCL2CCF
PFSCCF
PFSCFA10CCF
PFSCFA5CCF
PFSCL2CCF
Control
LSD (pZ0.05)

93.78
46.38
76.11
93.87
78.67
103.15
80.47
105.74
97.85
108.21
37.88
14.79

25.06
15.76
23.76
27.45
23.88
25.34
25.26
29.19
28.22
27.91
12.27
4.22

82.53
45.07
76.49
85.59
75.90
87.36
81.36
92.95
89.72
90.66
39.89
13.43

9.480
5.623
9.669
11.818
9.897
17.093
11.063
14.625
13.139
17.724
4.521
2.054

8.146
4.779
8.489
10.815
9.648
12.228
8.894
11.468
10.665
12.672
3.676
1.668

2303.6
1095.3
1712.1
1473.9
1483.9
1085.1
2002.9
1925.0
21.04.0
1218.6
1030.9
282.7

1064.9
652.4
1152.6
1616.7
1346.5
1526.3
1202.1
1396.6
1266.8
1436.7
539.8
221.2

339.1
175.9
354.5
408.9
356.8
382.8
384.9
452.0
427.1
405.4
164.1
69.4

74.1
35.5
85.4
87.6
82.4
70.7
100.0
106.7
106.8
77.9
33.7
14.1

0.11
6.17
10.56
15.33
13.59
10.94
14.17
20.74
19.06
11.74
4.74
2.50

FA, fly ash; CF, chemical fertilizer; FYM, farm yard manure; L, lime; PFS, paper factory sludge.

4. Effect on peanut
The pod yield of peanut was higher under residual
fertility of FA and CF treatment or lime based treatment.
The residual effect of FA or lime from previous rice crop
along with direct application of only CF to peanut crop
increased the pod yield as compared to continuous
application of only CF (Table 2). Application of FYM or
PFS in a rice peanut cropping system help to build up
organic carbon content in the soil (Fig. 1) and thereby
expected to supply adequate nutrients to the succeeding crop
of peanut. This might have resulted higher uptake of nutrient
elements which has shown increasing number of nodules
and other associated yield attributing characters and pod
yield (Table 2). Application of FA reduced bulk density of
soil which might have helped better pegging and pod
formation.
Application of PFS and FYM along with FA and CF
increased the content of Zn, Cu, and Co in grain of rice as
compared to the treatment where only CF was applied.
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act sets limits of 100 ppm
Zn, 50 ppm Cu, 5 ppm As and 1.5 ppm Cd in food so the
concentration of these elements in the present investigation
remain within the safe range.
4.1. Effect on soil fertility
The changes in soil properties like bulk density, organic
carbon and pH were recorded after experimentation.
Chemical fertilizer application supplemented with FA and
PFS or CR decreased bulk density and increased organic
carbon or pH of soil (Fig. 1). The combined application of
PFS and CF with or without FA showed comparable result
to that of FYM in similar combination. The bulk density
under treatment combinations of FA along with PFS or CR
was reduced, while it remained unchanged under CF and
control treatment. The reduction in bulk density in soil was
because of lower bulk density of FA (0.93 Mg mK3) and
also organic materials (0.460.61 Mg mK3) as compared to

Fig. 1. Effect of different fertilizer treatments on changes in organic carbon,


bulk density and pH of soil.

B.N. Mittra et al. / Fuel 84 (2005) 14471451


Table 4
Saving of chemical fertilizers and nutrient use efficiency under different
modes of fertilization sources in ricepeanut system
Fertilization
sources

Saving of chemical
fertilizers (%)
P2O5

K2 O

37.5
45.8

22
33.5

N
Chemical
fertilizer (CF)
OrganicCCF
OrganicC
FACCF

Fertilizer use efficiency kg


grain or pod/kg nutrient
N

P2O5

K2O

34.40

34.40

45.87

32
69.6

37.20
45.36

37.20
45.36

49.60
60.48

OrganicZmean of FYM and PFS at 30 kg N haK1 for rice and half of these
doses for peanut. FA, fly ash; CF, chemical fertilizer.

bulk density of soil (1.67 Mg mK3). The organic carbon


content of the soil increased remarkably under FYM or PFS
along with or without FA treated plots increase in pH was
noted under FA or lime based treatment. Under integrated
fertilizer treatment with FA or lime the soil pH was
increased from 5.3 to 5.9 as compared to CF alone where no
change in pH was observed. Thus, FA can be used as
substitute of lime for the amelioration of acid lateritic soil.
The analysis of radioactivity (Bq kgK1) of fly ash and
soil treated with fly ash at 40 t haK1 revealed that higher
radioactivity of 226Ra, 228Ac and 40K was recorded in the
latter than the former whereas, the activity of 137Cs was
reverse. The radioactivity due to addition of fly ash was
subjected to dilution effect in soil. However, these marginal
variations remained within the safe limit.
4.2. Saving of the chemical fertilizer
The advantage of integrated plant nutrition in the rice
peanut system could be further established on the basis of
nutrient use efficiency. It was observed that the efficiency of
all the three nutrients N, P and K increased over CF alone. It
is apparent from Table 4 that the increase under combined
application of organic sources, soil amendment and CF was
as high as 45.4 kg N grain kgK1, 45.4 kg P2O5 grain kgK1
and 60.5 kg K2O grain kgK1. In addition to this increase in
nutrient use efficiency, there was an added advantage
of saving of the CF. The extent of saving of CF in

1451

the ricepeanut system was 45.8% N, 33.3% P and 69.6% K,


respectively.

5. Conclusion
The study based on short duration experimentation
concludes that there is an ample scope for safe utilization
of different industrial wastes including fly ash in combination with chemical fertilizer for improving soil fertility
and augmenting yield of both rice and peanut in acid
lateritic soil. Thus, fly ash can be incorporated with safe in
soil as a soil ameliorates and also source of Ca, Mg and
micronutrients particularly in acidic soil. Such utilization of
industrial waste in an integrated manner can save chemical
fertilizer to greater extent. However, the long term effect of
use of fly ash in agricultural field on accumulation of
micronutrients particularly boron and heavy metals needs
investigation.

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