Dr Guanglong Tian (Chicago - US)

Senior Environmental Soil Scientist MWRD-Chicago

Adjunct Professor - Illinois Institute of Technology

Gunnar Kirchhof

Recent Publications

Salako, F. K., Tian, G., Kirchhof G. 2008. Soil chemical properties and crop yields on an eroded Alfisol managed with herbaceous legumes under yam-maize rotation. Nigerian Journal of Soil Science 18:1-9

This study was carried out in Ibadan, southwestern Nigeria between 1997 and 1999 to determine changes in soil chemical properties and yields on a previously eroded Alfisol. A factorial experiment in which legumes (Vigna unguiculata (cowpea), Mucuna pruriens and Pueraria phaseoloides) and residue management (burned and mulched residues) were factors was set up in two replicates of runoff plots. Yam was planted in 1997 and 1999 whereas maize + legume intercrops were planted in 1997. Soil properties measured were particle size distribution, pH, organic C, total N, Ca, Mg, Mn, exchangeable acidity and effective cation exchange capacity. There was increased acidity at the site. Soil chemical properties were significantly improved by burning of cowpea and Pueraria residues and mulching with Mucuna. Yam tuber yields of 14-18 t ha-1 in 1997 was

Huang, CY, Jien, SH, Chen, TH, Tian, G and Chiu, CY. 2014. Soluble organic C and N and their relationships with soil organic C and N and microbial characteristics in moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) plantations along an elevation gradient in Central Taiwan. Journal of Soils and Sediments 14: 1061–1070.

Purpose: Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis), an important economic crop, is distributed from low- to medium-elevation mountains in Taiwan. Bamboo is a fast-growing herbaceous species with an extensive rhizome structure. With the hypothesis that the characteristics of soil organic matter and microbes might change after long-term bamboo plantation, we investigated different fractions of organic C and N as well as soil microbial biomass and activities in 5 moso bamboo plantations along an elevation gradient in Central Taiwan. Materials and methods: Five soil samples (top 10 cm soil) were collected from each bamboo plantation (600, 800, 1000, 1200 and 1400 m asl) in January 2011. Soil was processed and analyzed for soil total C and N content, biological available C, potential mineralizable N, and soil microbial biomass and soil respiration (CO2). Two extraction methods (2 M KCl and hot-water extraction) were used to estimate soil soluble organic C and N (SbOC and SbON) and soil inorganic N (NH4+ and NO3?) concentrations to evaluate the relationship with soil organic matter and microbe characteristics in bamboo plantations. Results and discussion: Soil total C and N contents as well as soil microbial biomass and soil respiration (CO2) of the bamboo plantations increased along the elevation gradient. Temperature changes along elevation contributed to such variations observed among the selected bamboo plantations. SbON in hot-water extracts was highest in the 1200-m plantation, then the 1400-m plantation, and lowest in the low-elevation plantations (600, 800 and 1000 m). However, SbON in 2 M KCl extracts did not differ by elevation. SbON was strongly correlated with soil total N in both 2 M KCl and hot-water extracts but only SbON in hot water extracts was strongly correlated with microbial biomass N and potential mineralizable N. SbOC was strongly correlated with soil total C content, microbial biomass C, and biological available C in both 2 M KCl and hot-water extracts. Conclusions: Soil total C and N, SbOC and SbON and microbial biomass characteristics increased in the moso bamboo plantations with increasing elevation. No altitudinal difference in specific soil respiration (CO2) rate suggested that the enhanced potential mineralizable N and soil respiration (CO2) in the high-elevation plantations was associated with increased microbial biomass rather than microbial activities.

Lukicheva I, Pagilla K, Tian G, Cox A and Granato T. 2014. Enhanced stabilization of digested sludge during long-term storage in anaerobic lagoons. Water Environment Research 86: 291-295.

The goal of this work was to study changes in anaerobically stored digested sludge under different lengths of storage time to evaluate the quality of final product biosolids. The analyses of collected data suggest the organic matter degradation occurrence in the anaerobic environment of the lagoon approximately within the first year. After that, the degradation becomes very slow, which is likely caused by unfavorable environmental conditions. The performance of lagoon aging of digested sludge was also compared to the performance of lagoon aging of anaerobically digested and dewatered sludge. It was concluded that both of these processes result in biosolids of comparative quality and that the former provides more economical solution to biosolids handling by eliminating the need for mechanical dewatering.

Chen, JS. Chung, TL. Tian, GL. Chiu, CY. 2013. Characterization of soil organic matter in perhumid natural cypress forest: comparison of humification in different particle-size fractions. BOTANICAL STUDIES. 54, 1-9.

The Chamaecyparis forest is a valuable natural resource in eastern Asia. The characteristics of soil humic substances and the influence of environmental factors in natural Chamaecyparis forests in subtropical mountain regions are poorly understood. The study site of a perhumid Chamaecyparis forest is in the Yuanyang Lake Preserved Area in northcentral Taiwan. We collected samples from organic horizons (Oi, Oe and Oa) and from the surface horizon (O/A horizon) at the summit, footslope and lakeshore to characterize the composition of the soil organic matter. Samples of organic horizons were dried and ground, and those of the O/A horizon were passed through wet sieving for different particle-size fractions before analysis. The C chemical structure in the samples was determined with CP/MAS C-13 NMR spectra. Results: The ratios of alkyl-C/O-alkyl-C and aromaticity increased with decomposition of litter from the Oi, Oe, to Oa horizon. The ratio of alkyl-C/O-alkyl-C also increased from coarse (> 250 mu m) to very fine (

Oladeji, OO. Tian, GL . Cox, AE. Granato, TC. O'Connor, C. Abedin, Z. Pietz, RI. 2013. Effect of Long-Term Application of Biosolids for Mine Land Reclamation on Groundwater Chemistry: Nutrients and Other Selected Qualities. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY. 41, 94-102.

Leaching of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to groundwater can limit the land application of fertilizer, biosolids, and other soil amendments. Groundwater quality monitoring data collected over a 34-yr period at a 1790-ha site in Fulton County, Illinois, where strip-mined land was reclaimed with biosolids, were used to evaluate long-term impacts of biosolids on groundwater N, P, and other parameters. Seven strip-mined fields repeatedly treated with biosolids at 801 to 1815 Mg ha(-1) cumulative rate (equivalent to 24-55 dry Mg ha(-1) yr(-1)) between 1972 and 2004 were compared with another seven fields treated annually with chemical fertilizer at agronomic rates. Groundwater from wells installed in each of the fields and two public wells that served as background (reference) were sampled for 35 yr, monthly between 1972 and 1986 and quarterly between 1987 and 2006. Data show greater chloride (Cl-), sulfate (SO42-) and electrical conductivity (EC) of groundwater from wells in biosolids fields than those in fertilizer fields. Also, groundwater nitrate N (NO3-N) concentrations were greater in biosolids-amended fields than in fertilizer fields, but below regulatory limit of 10 mg (L-1) in Illinois Part 620 regulation. Conversely, groundwater P concentrations were consistently lower in biosolids than in chemical fertilizer wells throughout the 35-yr monitoring period. The study demonstrates that the repeated application of biosolids, even at higher than agronomic rate, would cause only minor nitrate increase and no P increase in groundwater.

Thangarajan, R. Bolan, NS. Tian, GL. Naidu, R. Kunhikrishnan, A. 2013. Role of organic amendment application on greenhouse gas emission from soil. SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT. 465, 72-96.

Globally, substantial quantities of organic amendments (OAs) such as plant residues (3.8 x 10(9) Mg/yr), biosolids (10 x 10(7) Mg/yr), and animal manures (7 x 10(9) Mg/yr) are produced. Recycling these OAs in agriculture possesses several advantages such as improving plant growth, yield, soil carbon content, and microbial biomass and activity. Nevertheless, OA applications hold some disadvantages such as nutrient eutrophication and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. Agriculture sector plays a vital role in GHG emission (carbon dioxide-CO2, methane-CH4, and nitrous oxide-N2O). Though CH4 and N2O are emitted in less quantity than CO2, they are 21 and 310 times more powerful in global warming potential, respectively. Although there have been reviews on the role of mineral fertilizer application on GHG emission, there has been no comprehensive review on the effect of OA application on GHG emission in agricultural soils. The review starts with the quantification of various OAs used in agriculture that include manures, biosolids, and crop residues along with their role in improving soil health. Then, it discusses four major OA induced-GHG emission processes (i.e., priming effect methanogenesis, nitrification, and denitrification) by highlighting the impact of OA application on GHG emission from soil. For example, globally 10 x 10(7) Mg biosolids are produced annually which can result in the potential emission of 530 Gg of CH4 and 60 Gg of N2O. The article then aims to highlight the soil, climatic, and OA factors affecting OA induced-GHG emission and the management practices to mitigate the emission. This review emphasizes the future research needs in relation to nitrogen and carbon dynamics in soil to broaden the use of OAs in agriculture to maintain soil health with minimum impact on GHG emission from agriculture

Tian, G. Franzluebbers, AJ. Granato, TC. Cox, AE. O'Connor, C. 2013. Stability of soil organic matter under long-term biosolids application. APPLIED SOIL ECOLOGY. 64, 223-227.

Little is know on the impact of biosolids application on soil organic matter (SUM) stability, which contributes to soil C sequestration. Soil samples were collected in 2006 at plow layer from fields that received liquid and dry municipal biosolids application from 1972 to 2004 at the cumulative rate of 1416 Mg ha(-1) in mined soil and 1072 Mg ha(-1) in nonmined soil and control fields that received chemical fertilizer at Fulton County, western Illinois. The biosolids application increased the soil microbial biomass C (SMBC) by 5-fold in mined soil and 4-fold in nonmined soil. The biosolids-amended soils showed a high amount of basal respiration and N mineralization, but low metabolic quotient, and low rate of organic C and organic N mineralization. There was a remarkable increase in mineral-associated organic C from 6.9 g kg(-1) (fertilizer control) to 26.6 g kg(-1) (biosolids-amended) in mined soil and from 8.9 g kg(-1) (fertilizer control) to 23.1 g kg(-1) (biosolids-amended) in nonmined soil. The amorphous Fe and Al, which can improve SUM stability, were increased by 2-7 folds by the long-term biosolids application. It is evident from this study that the biosolids-modified SUM resists to decomposition more than that in the fertilizer treatment, thus long-term biosolids application could increase SUM stability

Zhai, WJ. Moschandreas, DJ. Tian, GL. Venkatesan, D. Noll, KE. 2013. Degradation Rate Model Formulation to Estimate Soil Carbon Sequestration from Repeated Biosolids Application. SOIL SCIENCE SOCIETY OF AMERICA JOURNAL, 78, 1, 238-247.

Land application of biosolids is a process that increases the amount of soil C sequestration and may produce C credits in accordance with the definition of United Nations Climate Change Convention. A dynamic degradation rate model (DRM) provides insights on C sequestration due to microbial biomass, soil organic carbon (SOC), CO2 emission rates, residence time of sequestered C, and biomass to biosolids ratios. We employed a 34-yr biosolids application database from the literature to determine the amount of C sequestered in 41 strip-mined Illinois fields. This database is used to formulate the DRM using curve fitting techniques. Degradation rate model applications identify two SOC phases in soil. Soil organic C gain in Phase 1 (first 10 yr) is primarily due to biosolids application while in Phase 2, SOC gain is due to biomass or C sequestration. Carbon sequestration changes with time relate to variations in biosolids application amounts (10 and 18 Mg ha(-1) yr(-1)), different degradation rate constants (0.04-0.16 yr(-1)), and biomass yields (35-40%). Additionally, the degradation rate constant is correlated positively with the C application rate for a period of 34 yr. Based on the 34-yr database, the DRM simulates the process that decomposes SOC produced by biosolids application into C in biosolids that have not been degraded and C in biomass produced during the microbial degradation process. The DRM quantifies the biosolids degradation rate constant and biomass yield, and provides an easy quantitative method for evaluating C credits from biosolids added to soil.

Chung TL, Chen JS, Chiu CY and Tian G. 2012. 13C-NMR spectroscopy studies of humic substances in subtropical perhumid montane forest soil. Journal of Forest Research 17: 458-467.

We investigated soil organic matter in a forest of natural Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) under perhumid weather conditions in north central Taiwan. Humic substances along the transect from the summit and footslope to lakeshore were characterized by use of solid-state cross-polarization, magic-angle-spinning 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (CP/MAS 13C-NMR). The major components of soil organic carbon in whole soil and humic substances were alkyl-C, O-alkyl-C, and di-O-alkyl-C, ranging from 60.6% to 80.7%, then aromatic-C, 7.5% to 9.8%. The degree of humification of soil organic matter, both O-alkyl-C/alkyl-C ratio and aromaticity, decreased slightly from the summit to lakeshore. The content of functional groups of polar and acidic groups, including O-alkyl-C, di-O-alkyl-C, and carboxyl-C, corresponded with the topographical effect, increasing slightly from the summit to lakeshore. However, the relatively low degree of humification in soils of this perhumid forest and low aromaticity were due to high precipitation and acidity, which appeared to hinder organic matter decomposition with topography change.

Lukicheva I, Tian G, Cox A, Granato TC and Pagilla K. 2012. Anaerobic and aerobic transformations affecting stability of dewatered sludge during long-term storage in a lagoon. Water Environment Research 84: 17-24.

The goal of this work was to study long-term behavior of anaerobically digested and dewatered sludge (biosolids) in a lagoon under anaerobic and aerobic conditions to determine the stability of the final product as an indicator of its odor potential. Field lagoons were sampled to estimate spatial and temporal variations in the physical-chemical properties and biological stability characteristics such as volatile solids content, accumulated oxygen uptake, and soluble protein content and odorous compound assessment. The analyses of collected data suggest that the surface layer of the lagoon (depth of above 0.15 m) undergoes long-term aerobic oxidation resulting in a higher degree of stabilization in the final product. The subsurface layers (depth 0.15 m below the surface and deeper) are subjected to an anaerobic environment where the conditions favor the initial rapid organic matter degradation within approximately the first year, followed by slow degradation.

Oladeji, OO. Tian, GL. Cox, AE . Granato, TC. Pietz, RI. Carlson, CR. Abedin, Z. 2012. Effects of Long-Term Application of Biosolids for Mine Land Reclamation on Groundwater Chemistry: Trace Metals. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY. 41, 1445-1451.

Data collected for 35 yr from a 1790-ha strip mine reclamation site in Fulton County, Illinois, where biosolids were applied from 1972 to 2004, were used to evaluate the impacts of long-term biosolids application on metal concentrations in groundwater. Groundwater samples were collected between 1972 and 2006 from wells installed in seven strip-mined fields treated with biosolids at cumulative loading rates of 801 to 1815 dry Mg ha(-1) and from another seven fields (also strip mined) treated with mineral fertilizer. Samples were collected monthly between 1972 and 1986 and quarterly between 1987 and 2004 and were analyzed for total metals. The concentrations of metals in groundwater were generally below regulatory limits. Lead, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, and Hg concentrations in groundwater were similar for the biosolids-amended and fertilizer-treated sites across all sampling intervals. Zinc concentration was increased by biosolids application only for samples collected before the 1993 promulgation of the USEPA 40 CFR Part 503 rule. Iron and Mn were the only metals that were consistently increased aft er biosolids application; however, Mn concentrations did not exceed the 10 mg L-1 regulatory limits. Zinc, Cu, Cd, Pb, Fe, Al, and Mn concentrations in groundwater decreased with time, coupled with the change from pre-part 503 to post-Part 503 biosolids. The concentrations of other metals, including Ni, Cr, and Hg, did not increase in groundwater with the prolonged biosolids application. The study suggests that the long-term application of biosolids at high loading rates does not result in trace metal pollution of groundwater.

Chiu CY and Tian G. 2011. Chemical structure of humic acids in biosolids-amended soils as revealed by NMR spectroscopy. Applied Soil Ecology 49: 76– 80.

We used NMR spectroscopy to characterize humid acids extracted from soils that had received long-term application of 2 levels of biosolids to evaluate the soil organic matter (SOM) stability in biosolids-amended soils. The study also quantified fulvic acids (FAs), humic acids (HAs) and Fe/Al oxides. The soils were collected in 2004 from 7 fields, in Fulton County, southwestern Illinois, which received biosolids at a cumulative rate of 0, 554 and 1,066 Mg ha-1. The application of biosolids increased both FA and HA contents, but biosolids-amended soil and control soil did not differ in FA/HA ratio. Biosolids application had no effect on water-soluble organic carbon content. Biosolids application increased the presence of Fe/Al in the SOM complex and lowered its C/Fe and C/Al ratios. 13C NMR spectra showed increased alkyl C and decreased aromatic C content in soil HAs with the application of biosolids, and the extent of such changes was higher with high than low biosolids treatment. Under biosolids application, the soil HAs’ C structure shifts from O-alkyl-dominant to alkyl-dominant. Biosolids application does not decrease SOM stability but rather increases the stability of soil humic substances.

Adeoye, G. O., G. Tian, E. P. Opuokpo and D. K. A. Shodeke (2010). Greenhouse monitored growth characteristics and biomass distribution of four legumes and a grass on some acidic non acidic alfisols of southern Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of Soil Science 20(1): 161-167.

Growth characteristics of four herbaceous legumes ( Mucuna pruriens, Lablab purpureus, Pueraria phaceoloides and Centrosema bracillanum) and a grass ( Penicetum purpureum) were evaluated on acid and non-acid soils of southern Nigeria in a greenhouse potted experiment. Shoot biomass, root distribution and nodulation determined at four months after planting showed differences between species. The nodule number and nodule dry weight of legumes grown on non-acid soil averaged 51% and 52% above those on acid soil respectively. Besides, the root diameter was 17% larger in non-acid soil than on acid soil. Whereas the average of total root length on acid soil was 37% more than in the non-acid.

Tian, G., T. C. Granato, A. E. Cox, R. I. Pietz, C. R. Carlson, Jr. and Z. Abedin (2009). Soil Carbon Sequestration Resulting from Long-Term Application of Biosolids for Land Reclamation. Journal of Environmental Quality 38(1): 61-74.

Investigations on the impact of application of biosolids for land reclamation on C sequestration in soil were conducted at Fulton County, Illinois, where 41 fields (3.6-66 ha) received biosolids at a cumulative loading rate from 455 to 1654 dry Mg ha(-1) for 8 to 23 yr in rotation from 1972 to 2004. The fields were cropped with corn, wheat, and sorghum and also with soybean and grass or fallowed. Soil organic carbon (SOC) increased rapidly with the application of biosolids, whereas it fluctuated slightly in fertilizer controls. The peak SOC in the 0- to 15-cm depth of biosolids-amended fields ranged from 4 to 7% and was greater at higher rates of biosolids. In fields where biosolids application ceased for 22 yr, SOC was still much higher than the initial levels. Over the 34-yr reclamation, the mean net soil C sequestration was 1.73 (0-54-3-05) Mg C ha(-1) yr(-1) in biosolids-amended fields as compared with -0.07 to 0.17 Mg C ha(-1) yr(-1) in fertilizer controls, demonstrating a high potential of soil C sequestration by the land application of biosolids. Soil C sequestration was significantly correlated with the biosolids application rate, and the equation can be expressed as y = 0.064 x -0.11, in which y is the annual net soil C sequestration (Mg C ha(-1) yr(-1)), and x is annual biosolids application in dry weight (Mg ha(-1) yr(-1)). Our results indicate that biosolids applications can turn Midwest Corn Belt soils from current C-neutral to C-sink. A method for calculating SOC stock tinder conditions in which surface soil layer depth and mass changes is also described.

Okoh, A. I. and G. Tian (2008). Dynamics of culturable soil microbial communities during decomposition of some agroforestry species in a semi arid and arid tropical agroecozones of West Africa. African Journal of Biotechnology 7(20): 3693-3699.

Field litterbag studies were conducted during the dry season between years 2000 and 2001 in typical semi-arid and arid agroecozones of West Africa to measure the dynamics of culturable bacterial and fungal communities in the topsoils. Five different agroforestry leaf litters namely Dactyladenia, Pterocarpus, Alchonea, Senna, and Gliricidia species were decomposed, and their effects on soil microflora were studied. Bacterial densities in all the studied plots of the two agroecozones varied from the order of 10(8) to 10(10) cfu/g, while fungal densities ranged in the order of 10(3) and 10(4) cfu/g. Ecological zones impacted significantly (P

Tian, G., T. C. Granato, Dinelli, F. D., Cox, A. E. (2008). Effectiveness of biosolids in enhancing soil microbial populations and N mineralization in golf course putting greens. Applied Soil Ecology 40(2): 381-386.

In an effort to generate more information on the use of biosolids in the turf industry, a study was conducted to compare the effectiveness of biosolids with recommended organic sources in enhancing soil microbial populations and N availability in putting green sand rootzones. The treatments included four types of rootzones as follows: sand (control), sand mixed with Dakota reed-sedge peat (10%, v/v), sand mixed with yard-waste compost (10%, v/v), and sand mixed with biosolids (10%, v/v), which were established at the North Shore Country Club golf course, Glenview, IL, USA in 1997. All plots received the same fertilizers mainly in organic forms at 100 kg N ha(-1) year(-1). creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris) turf was established, and was managed as a practice putting green. Soil microbial biomass in the rootzone (0-30 cm) was higher either under compost (fall 2004 and summer 2005) or biosolids (summer 2003) than other treatments. Rootzone ammonium oxidizer populations were higher with biosolids (5400 g(-1) soil) than peat (1200 g(-1) soil) and compost (500 g-1 soil) amendment and in control (400 g(-1) soil) in summer 2003. The nitrite oxidizer populations were higher with biosolids (24000 g(-1) soil) than compost (8300 g(-1) soil) and peat (4700 g(-1) soil) amendment and in control (3700 g(-1) soil) in summer 2005. Soil potentially mineralizable N, also being lowest in control, was higher in the biosolids-amended than compost- and peat-amended rootzones. In most seasons, the nitrate concentrations in biosolids rootzone (3.16-19.3 mg kg(-1)) were higher than in compost (2.79-17.7 mg kg(-1)), peat (1.83-14.4 mg kg(-1)), and control rootzone (0.81-15.2 mg kg(-1)). The study indicates that while compost could restore soil microbial biomass better than peat, biosolids could maintain greater N supply than peat and compost.

Total of more than 120 publications, including 75 in international peer reviewed Journals.



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands. Soil Biology (Ecology)/Soil Fertility


Master of Science (M.S.) Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, China. Pedology/Soil Chemistry


Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Sichuan Agricultural University, Sichuan, China. Soil Science & Agrochemistry

Work History and Experience

since 2009

Environmental Engineering program, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, USA

Adjunct Professor

since 2002

Environmental Monitoring and Research Division, M&R Dept., Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), USA

Senior Soil Scientist:

2001 – 2002

Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, USA

Visiting Soil Scientist:

1999 – 2002

Texas A & M University, College Station, USA

Member of graduate student supervisory committee:

1992 – 2001

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA Ibandan, Nigeria

Scientist, post-doc and from 1996, Head soil fertility unit:

1982 – 1988

Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, Sichuan, China

Assistant Research Scientist, Research Associate and Graduate Research Assistant:



Chinese (native), English (fluent)