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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Soil Fertility & Crop Nutrition

Field-Scale Evaluation of Biosolids-Derived Organomineral Fertilizers Applied to Winter Wheat in England


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 109 No. 2, p. 654-674
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Sept 04, 2016
    Accepted: Jan 11, 2017
    Published: March 9, 2017

    * Corresponding author(s): d.l.antille@gmail.com
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  1. Diogenes L. Antille *a,
  2. Richard J. Godwinb,
  3. Ruben Sakrabanic,
  4. Saman Seneweerad,
  5. Sean F. Tyrrele and
  6. A. Edward Johnstonf
  1. a University of Southern Queensland, National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia
    b Harper Adams University, Engineering, Newport, Shropshire, UK
    c Cranfield University, Soil and Agrifood Institute, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK
    d University of Southern Queensland, Centre for Crop Health, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia
    e Cranfield University, Water Science Institute, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK
    f Rothamsted Research, Department of Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, UK
Core Ideas:
  • Agronomic efficiency of organomineral fertilizers higher than biosolids granules.
  • Organomineral fertilizers reduces the risk of soil P build-up compared with biosolids.
  • Conversion of sewage sludge into organomineral fertilizers improves the fertilizer value of biosolids.


Field-scale experiments in four crop seasons established the agronomic performance of biosolids-derived organomineral fertilizers (OMF) for winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production in England. Two OMF formulations (OMF10 10:4:4 and OMF15 15:4:4) were compared with urea and biosolids granules (≈5:6:0.2) to determine crop responses and fertilizer effects on soil chemical properties. Fertilizers were applied at N rates between 0 and 250 kg ha–1 at regular increments of 50 kg ha–1 N. Average grain yields with OMF10 and OMF15 were higher than with biosolids granules, but lower than with urea (P < 0.05). The optimum N application rates, and corresponding grain yields, were 245 and 7900 kg ha–1 for biosolids, 257 and 9100 kg ha–1 for OMF10, 249 and 9500 kg ha–1 for OMF15, and 225 and 10350 kg ha–1 for urea, respectively. Differences in grain yield between fertilizer treatments were explained by differences in yield components, particularly number of grains and thousand-grain-weight. Grain-N recoveries were 31% for biosolids, ≈40% for OMF, and 52% for urea. Organomineral fertilizers-induced changes in soil extractable P and soil P Index were not significant. Thus, application of OMF replenished P offtake by the crop and therefore supported the choice of the proposed OMF formulations. By contrast, extractable P increased in biosolids and decreased in urea-treated soils, respectively. Heavy metals in soil were unaffected by fertilizer treatment and lower than permissible limit values. The use of OMF for winter wheat production appears to be a sustainable approach to recycling biosolids to land.

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