Environmental concerns associated with traditional methods of sludge disposal have spurred research exploring alternate avenues of disposal. A potentially significant alternative is the beneficial use of sludge as a turfgrass fertilizer. Studies were initiated during 1991 to compare a commercially available pelletized sludge to urea; 12-4-6; Ringer Lawn Restore; and Milorganite. Fertilizers were evaluated for their effect on turfgrass quality, color, and growth rate. Treatments were applied to a stand composed of 65% Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L. `Baron') and 35% Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L. `Manhattan II') in South Deerfield, MA. Urea and 12-4-6 were applied at 49 kg N ha-1. Ringer Lawn Restore and Milorganite were applied at 98 kg N ha-1. Pelletized sludge was applied at 98, 196, 294, and 392 kg N ha-1 with all rates providing acceptable to good turfgrass color throughout the season. Rates of 294 or 392 kg seldom provided quality better than the 196 kg rate. While urea initially produced quality superior to pelletized sludge, all rates of sludge resulted in quality equal to or better than urea beginning one month after application and lasting approximately 11 weeks. Turf receiving similar rates of either pelletized sludge or Milorganite performed similarly. No sludge application rate produced burning or foliar discoloration. Clipping production was directly related to sludge application rate. Pelletized sludge applied at 98 kg N ha-1 resulted in growth comparable to similar applications of Ringer Lawn Restore and Milorganite. In summary, using pelletized sewage sludge as a turfgrass fertilizer promotes healthy turfgrass while creating an alternate avenue of sludge disposal.
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