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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Utilization Efficiency of Nitrogen from Sewage Effluent and Fertilizer Applied to Corn Plants Growing in a Clay Soil1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 10 No. 3, p. 284-287
    Received: July 11, 1980

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  1. A. Feigin,
  2. Sala Feigenbaum and
  3. Hedva Limoni2



Effects of irrigation with secondary municipal sewage effluents on N availability in a fertilized soil were studied in a greenhouse experiment using 15N as a tracer. Corn (Zea mays) was grown in a clay soil with ammonium-N added as solid fertilizer, sewage effluent, and a mineral solution.

Between 55 and 69% of the ammonium sulfate-15N was taken up by the corn plants. Between 21 and 32% of the fertilizer-N was recovered as organic-N in the soil after 43 days, while negligible amounts of exchangeable-NH4 and NO3 were detected. Losses of ammonium sulfate-N applied to the soil before seeding, probably through denitrification, ranged between 6 and 15%. Similar results were obtained whether the fertilized soil was irrigated with demineralized water, sewage effluent, or a mineral solution simulating the mineral composition of the sewage effluent.

About 61% of the tagged ammonium-N applied as sewage effluent was taken up by the corn plants, and 14% was immobilized in the organic fraction of soil. About 24% of the effluent-tagged-ammonium-N was lost, apparently through both denitrification and volatilization. The corresponding loss from the mineral-solution-tagged-N was about 17%. The simultaneous application of C and N by sewage effluents was probably responsible for the increased losses of N through denitrification found in the effluent-tagged-ammonium-N treatment.

Recovery of N, in plant and soil, from ammonium sulfate incorporated into the soil before planting was somewhat greater than that of sewage effluent ammonium-N, and was not affected by irrigation with sewage effluent.

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