Leachate chemistry of field-weathered spent mushroom substrate

M. Guo, J. Chorover, R. Rosario, R. H. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Passive leaching by rainfall and snowmelt is a popular method to treat piles of spent mushroom substrate (SMS) before its reuse. During this field weathering process, leachate percolates into the underlying soils. A field study was conducted to examine the chemistry of SMS leachate and effects of infiltration. Two SMS piles were deposited (90 and 150 cm in height) over a Typic Hapludult and weathered for 24 mo. Leachate was collected biweekly using passive capillary samplers. The SMS leachate contained high concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC; 0.8-11.0 g L-1), dissolved organic nitrogen (DON; 0.1-2 g L-1), and inorganic salts. The pH, electrical conductivity, and acid neutralizing capacity were 6.6 to 9.0, 21 to 66 ds m-1, and 10 to 75 mmolc L-1, respectively. Inorganic chemistry of the leachate was dominated by K+, Cl-, and SO42-. Leachate DOC was predominantly low molecular weight (<1000 Da) organic acids. During 2 yr of weathering, the 90-cm SMS pile released (per cubic meter of SMS) 3.0 kg of DOC, 1.6 kg of dissolved N, and 26.6 kg of inorganic salts. The 150-cm pile released (per cubic meter of SMS) 2.8 kg of DOC, 0.7 kg of dissolved N, and 13.6 kg of inorganic salts. The 150-cm pile retained more water and exhibited lower net nitrification compared with the 90-cm pile. The top 90 cm of soil retained 20 to 89% of the leachate solutes. Weathering of SMS in piles of 90 cm depth or greater may adversely affect ground water quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1699-1709
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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