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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

A Field Study of the Agricultural Use of Sewage Sludge: II. Effect on Soil N and P1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 6 No. 4, p. 345-352
    Received: May 17, 1976

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  1. K. A. Kelling,
  2. L. M. Walsh,
  3. D. R. Keeney,
  4. J. A. Ryan and
  5. A. E. Peterson2



Liquid digested sewage sludge applied at rates from 3.75 to 60 metric ton/ha significantly increased the concentrations of inorganic N, organic N, and Bray P1 extractable P in a sandy loam and a silt loam soil in south-central Wisconsin. Most of the applied inorganic N was as NH4-N and was nitrified rapidly. At sludge rates of 30 metric ton/ha or more, substantial losses of sludge-applied N occurred by leaching. Soil solution NO3-N concentrations exceeded 100 mg/liter at the 120- to 150-cm depth 10 weeks after the first sludge application on the permeable sandy loam, and after about 1 year on the silt loam. The N balance indicated that considerable amounts of N may have been lost by denitrification, volatilization, or both, where > 30 metric ton/ha were applied. Mineralization of organic N was more rapid than previously reported. Up to 50% of the applied organic N was mineralized within 3 weeks after the last sludge application. During the remaining 25 months of the experiment, the mineralization rate was essentially constant at about 250 mg organic N/kg of soil/year at the 60 metric ton/ha sludge rate, and 180 mg organic N/kg of soil/year at the 30 metric ton/ha rate.

Sludge applications resulted in immediate marked increases in Bray P1 extractable P. However, the extractable P levels decreased with time after sludge application, probably as a result of P fixation. Significant amounts of P remained available for at least 2 years at the higher treatment rates.

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