Using oil industry waste effectively to improve an eroded loamy sand
Peer Reviewed StatusNon-Peer Reviewed
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As depletion of the easily recoverable oil reserves in western Canada accelerates, the volumes of waste generated during heavy oil production and processing are steadily increasing. The 600 million litres of heavy oil produced in 1998 accounted for 40% of total oil production, i.e. all across Canada plus offshore. The safe disposal of heavy oil wastes became an environmental issue when the conventional practice of ‘road oiling’ for dust suppression on rural roads could no longer accommodate the growing waste volumes (Biederbeck et al. 1993). We propose that agriculture may provide effective solutions for some oily waste disposal problems by utilizing such organic C-rich wastes to amend nearby areas of marginally productive cropland. Cultivated land on the Prairies includes >3 million ha of sandy soils (>50% sand) that are highly susceptible to degradation by wind and water erosion and are low in organic matter and productivity. Much of this marginal cropland could benefit from improvements in soil structure and humus content that can be realized through incorporation of organic, including petro-type, wastes (Biederbeck et al. 1997). Consequently, we conducted, with support from AFIF, a field experiment on a windy ridge at Richmound, SK to: (i) assess the impact of soil incorporation of a heavy oil processing sludge on soil and groundwater quality and on crop production, and (ii) generate benchmark data needed by regulatory agencies to develop guidelines for future use of suitable hydrocarbon wastes in an environmentally safe and agronomically beneficial manner on sandy cropland in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Part OfSoils and Crops Workshop
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