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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Ecological Risk Assessment

Environmental Risks of Applying Sewage Sludge Compost to Vineyards


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 5, p. 1522-1527
    Received: May 18, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): nathalie.korboulewsky@univ.u-3mrs.fr
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  1. Nathalie Korboulewsky *,
  2. Sylvie Dupouyet and
  3. Gilles Bonin
  1. Laboratoire de Biosystématique et Ecologie Méditerranéenne (LBEM)—Institut Méditerranéen d'Ecologie et de Paléoecologie (IMEP), UMR CNRS 6116, Université de Provence, FST St Jérôme, case 421 bis, 13397 Marseille cedex 20, France


Biosolids are applied to vineyards to supply organic matter. However, there is concern that this practice can increase the concentration of macronutrients and heavy metals in the soil, some of which can leach. We evaluated the environmental hazard of sewage sludge compost applied in March 1999 at 10, 30, and 90 Mg ha−1 fresh weight in a vineyard in southeastern France. Soil organic matter increased in all plots by 3 g kg−1 18 mo after the amendment. Neither total nor available heavy metal concentrations increased in the soil. Mineral nitrogen (N) in the topsoil of amended plots of 10, 30, and 90 Mg ha−1 increased by 5, 14, and 26 kg (NO 3–N + NH+ 4–N) ha−1, respectively, the first summer and by 2, 5, and 10 kg NO 3–N + NH+ 4–N ha−1, respectively, the second summer compared with controls. At the recommended rate, risks of N leaching is very low, but phosphorus (P) appeared to be the limiting factor. Phosphorus significantly increased only in plots amended with the highest rate in the topsoil and subsoil. At lower rates, although no significant differences were observed, P added was greater than the quantities absorbed by vines. In the long run, P will accumulate in the soil and may reach concentrations that will pose a risk to surface waters and ground water. Therefore, although the current recommended rate (10 Mg ha−1) increased soil organic matter without the risk of N leaching, total sewage sludge loading rates on vineyards should be based on P concentrations.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:1522–1527.