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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Molybdenum Uptake by Forage Crops Grown on Sewage Sludge-Amended Soils in the Field and Greenhouse


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 3, p. 848-854
    Received: Mar 15, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): mbm7@cornell.edu
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  1. M. B. McBride *,
  2. B. K. Richards,
  3. T. Steenhuis and
  4. G. Spiers
  1. D ep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853;
    R esearch and Productivity Council, Fredericton, New Brunswick.



Molybdenum (Mo) is a plant-available element in soils that can adversely affect the health of farm animals. There is a need for more information on its uptake into forage crops from waste materials, such as sewage sludge, applied to agricultural land. Field and greenhouse experiments with several crops grown on long-term sewage sludge-amended soils as well as soils recently amended with dewatered (DW) and alkaline-stabilized (ALK) sludges indicated that Mo supplied from sludge is readily taken up by legumes in particular. Excessive uptake into red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) (>30 mg/kg) was seen in a soil that had been heavily amended with sewage sludge 20 yr earlier, where the soil contained about 3 mg Mo/kg soil, three times the background soil concentration. The greenhouse and field studies indicated that Mo can have a long residual availability in sludge-amended soils. The effect of sludge application was to decrease Cu to Mo ratios in legume forages, canola (Brassica napus var. napus) and soybeans [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] below the recommended limit of 2:1 for ruminant diets, a consequence of high bioavailability of Mo and low uptake of Cu added in sludge. Molybdenum uptake coefficients (UCs) for ALK sludge were higher than for DW sludge, presumably due to the greater solubility of Mo measured in the more alkaline sludges and soils. Based on these UCs, it is tentatively recommended that cumulative Mo loadings on forages grown on nonacid soils should not exceed 1.0 kg/ha from ALK sludge or 4.0 kg/ha from DW sludge.

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