Effect of tomato packinghouse wastewater properties on phosphorus and cation leaching in a spodosol

J Environ Qual. May-Jun 2011;40(3):999-1009. doi: 10.2134/jeq2010.0369.


Land application of wastewater is a common practice. However, coarse-textured soils and shallow groundwater in Florida present favorable conditions for leaching of wastewater-applied constituents. Our objective in this study was to determine phosphorus (P) and associated cations (Ca, Mg, K, Na) leaching in a Spodosol irrigated with tomato packinghouse wastewater. We packed 12 polyvinyl chloride soil columns (30 cm internal diameter × 50 cm length) with two soil horizons (Ap and A/E) and conducted 30 sequential leaching events by irrigating with wastewater at low (0.84 cm d), medium (1.68 cm d), and high (2.51 cm d) rates. The control treatment received deionized water at 1.68 cm d Leachate pH was lower (6.4-6.5) and electrical conductivity (EC) was higher in the wastewater-treated columns (0.85-1.78 dS m) than in the control treatment (pH 6.9; EC, 0.12 dS m) due to the low pH (6.2) and high EC (2.16 dS m) of applied wastewater. Mean leachate P concentrations were greatest in the control treatment (0.70 mg L), followed by the high (0.60 mg L) and low and medium wastewater-treated columns (0.28-0.33 mg L). Leachate concentrations of Na, Ca, Mg, and K were significantly ( < 0.05) greater in wastewater-treated columns than in the control. Concentrations of P, Na, and K in leachate remained lower than the concentrations in the applied wastewater, indicating their retention in the soil profile. In contrast, leachate Ca and Mg concentrations were greater than in applied wastewater during several leaching events, suggesting that additional Ca and Mg were leached from the soil. Our results suggest that tomato packinghouse wastewater can be beneficially land-applied at 1.68 cm d in Florida's Spodosols without significant P and cation leaching.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cations / analysis
  • Fertilizers / analysis*
  • Florida
  • Industrial Waste / analysis*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum*
  • Phosphorus / analysis*
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry


  • Cations
  • Fertilizers
  • Industrial Waste
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Phosphorus