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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Ecosystem Restoration

Biowaste Effects on Soil and Native Plants in a Semiarid Ecosystem


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 2, p. 472-479
    Received: May 21, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): walter@inia.es
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  1. F. Martíneza,
  2. G. Cuevasa,
  3. R. Calvob and
  4. I. Walter *a
  1. a Dep. of the Environment, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Apartado de correos 8111, Madrid 28080 Spain
    b Biometry Service, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Apartado de correos 8111, Madrid 28080 Spain


Many soils of the Mediterranean region with a semiarid climate are subjected to progressive degradation as a result of water erosion. Biosolids and municipal solid wastes (MSW) were surface-applied once at three rates (40, 80, and 120 Mg ha−1) to different plots in a degraded semiarid ecosystem. The study was conducted to determine the effects of such applications on soil chemical properties and native vegetation over a three-year period. Soil N, P, and K initially increased with increasing biowaste application rates, but then decreased over time. Levels of Zn and Cu were higher in MSW than biosolid-treated plots, and increased in both years after application. Concentrations of soil Cd, Pb, Ni, and Cr did not change as a result of biowaste amendment in the study period. The growth of native plants was enhanced by the addition of biowastes. Total plant canopy and plant biomass increased significantly and remained higher in all treatments than in the control plot over the three-year period. The species richness of native plants decreased with increasing biowaste rates. Differences in the development of native plant communities between treatments were observed, and were more remarkable three years after biowaste application. Tissue N, P, K, Zn, and Cu levels increased with the biowaste application rate, but concentrations of tissue Pb, Cd, Ni, and Cr did not increase significantly. Biowastes applied at the rate of 80 Mg ha−1 gave rise to the most favorable soil and native vegetation results while avoiding environmental risks.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.32:472–479.