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Keywords:

  • Bauxite-processing residue sand;
  • amendment;
  • nitrogen;
  • phosphorus;
  • rehabilitation;
  • nutrient management

Abstract

The effects of organic–inorganic amendments and nitrogen-phosphorus (NP) fertilization (NH4NO3 plus Ca (H2PO4)2) on ryegrass (Lolium rigidum) growth, and nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability in highly alkaline bauxite-processing residue sand (BRS), were examined in a pot experiment. The BRS used was either unamended (control) or amended with organic (e.g. greenwaste compost and biochar) or inorganic (e.g. zeolite) materials at a rate of 10% v/v. BRS from 15 years of rehabilitation (15YRRH) was also used as the second control. NP fertilizer was applied at different rates. The experimental set up was arranged in a two factorial complete randomized design. BRS with zeolite and 15YRRH at NP fertilizer rates of 2.0 and 2.5 t/ha produced the highest dry matter, leaf N concentration and N uptake by ryegrass, which were significantly higher (< 0.05) than the other treatments, suggesting the potential of zeolite in providing stability of applied N fertilizer in BRS. Further, BRS with biochar at NP rates 2.0 and 2.5 t/ha can also be suitable amendments as they enhance growth and also improved the N and P supplying capacity of BRS. Ryegrass leaf P concentration and P uptake were above the critical P values in the 15YRRH compared with organic–inorganic amended BRS, suggesting that time is important for better P uptake from the residue. It is concluded that zeolite and biochar combined with appropriate NP fertilizer rates can improve plant growth and provide a source of nutrients for ryegrass establishment in bauxite residue storage areas. The results need to be tested in field conditions before being advised in farming practice.