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Sistema de Información Científica
Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal
Rev. Int. Contam. Ambie. 27(4) 303-311, 2011
EFFECTS OF SEWAGE SLUDGE AND SEWAGE SLUDGE COMPOST AMENDMENT ON SOIL
PROPERTIES AND
Zea mays
L. PLANTS (HEAVY METALS, QUALITY AND PRODUCTIVITY)
Rocío VACA
1
, Jorge LUGO
1
, Ricardo MARTÍNEZ
1
, María V. ESTELLER
2
and Hilda ZAVALETA
3
1
Laboratorio de Edafología y Ambiente, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México,
Instituto Literario No. 100, 50000 Toluca, México. rociovpaulin@gmail.com
2
Centro Interamericano de Recursos del Agua, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Autónoma el Estado de
México, Cerro Coatepec S/N 50130 Toluca, México.
3
Colegio de Postgraduados, Instituto de Recursos Naturales. km 36.5 Carr. México-Texcoco, Montecillo 56230,
México.
(Recibido octubre 2010, aceptado julio 2011)
Keywords: biosolids, heavy metals, soil, corn quality
ABSTRACT
The use of organic wastes in agriculture can improve the soil’s productive capacity,
and physical and chemical characteristics. This study evaluated the effects of sewage
sludge, sewage sludge compost and inorganic fertilizer applications on nickel, copper
and zinc contents in soil and corn grains (
Zea may
s L); maize productivity, and grain
nutritional quality. Sewage sludge and sewage sludge compost at 18 Mg ha
–1
and a
mineral fertilizer (N-P-K) with a formulation of 150-75-30 were applied. Signi±cant
differences were observed in organic matter, phosphorus and zinc content between
sewage sludge-soil and compost-soil, and inorganic fertilizer-soil (P < 0.05). Cop-
per concentration was signi±cantly high in compost-soil (P < 0.05). Productivity in
compost-soil and sewage sludge-soil mixtures was higher than in inorganic fertilizer-
soil. Grain quality, measured by relative percentage of starch, total nitrogen, protein,
acid detergent ±ber and neutral detergent ±ber were adequate for human consumption.
Application of sewage sludge or compost did not increase heavy metal concentrations
in grain with respect to inorganic fertilizer-soil.
Palabras clave: biosólidos, metales pesados, suelo, calidad de maíz
RESUMEN
El uso de residuos orgánicos en la agricultura puede mejorar la capacidad productiva
del suelo así como sus características físicas y químicas. En el presente estudio se
evaluó el efecto de la adición de lodo residual, composta de lodo residual y fertilizante
inorgánico en el contenido de níquel, cobre y zinc del suelo y grano de maíz (
Zea mays
L), así como en la productividad de maíz y calidad nutrimental del grano. Se aplicó
una dosis de 18 Mg ha
–1
de lodo residual o composta de lodo residual mientras que el
fertilizante inorgánico aplicado fue fórmula 150-75-30 (N-P-K). Se observaron dife-
rencias signi±cativas en el contenido de materia orgánica, fósforo y zinc entre suelo-
lodo residual, suelo-composta y suelo-fertilizante (P < 0.05). La adición de composta
incrementó signi±cativamente la concentración de cobre en el suelo (P < 0.05). La
R. Vaca
et al.
304
productividad de maíz obtenida en el suelo-composta y suelo-lodo residual fue más alta
respecto al suelo-fertilizante. La calidad del grano, medida como porcentaje relativo de
almidón, nitrógeno total, proteína y Fbra detergente ácida y neutra, fue buena para el
consumo humano. La aplicación de lodo residual o composta al suelo no incrementó
la concentración de metales pesados en el grano de maíz.
INTRODUCTION
The application of organic waste or compost on
soils used for crop production is of great importance
due to the nutritional input and low cost (Mantovi
et
al.
2005). Organic waste, such as sewage sludge and
sewage sludge compost, can improve the availabil-
ity of nutrients thanks to the low molecular weight
aliphatic compounds that interact strongly with the
soil minerals (Hue and Ranjith 1994); moreover, it
increases the soil’s cation exchange capacity (CEC)
(McBride
et al.
1997, Shuman 1998). The factors that
affect the bio-availability of elements in soil are waste
source, pH, organic matter content and chemistry of
the elements (Mantovi
et al.
2005).
Sewage sludge from the treatment of munici-
pal wastewater is characterized by high content of
organic matter, N, P, K, Ca and Mg, as well as the
presence of some potentially toxic elements such as
heavy metals, which, in high doses, can cause toxicity
in the food chain (Chang
et al.
1981, Sadovnikova
et
al.
1993, Porta
et al.
1999).
The composting process transforms organic
matter into a drier, uniform and biologically stable
product that could act as a good source of plant nu-
trients (Sullivan
et al.
2002). Sewage sludge is often
composted prior to application to the soil in order to
reduce metal availability, since during this process
there is a mineralization of organic compounds,
which control the availability of heavy metals and
cations to plants. Also, pathogens are eliminated
during composting, and so this process produces an
adequate agricultural product (Bernal
et al
. 1998,
Casado-Vela
et al.
2007).
Sewage sludge and sewage sludge compost were
found to increase the availability of nutrients; however,
despite their notable beneFts to soil fertility, they were
associated with negative effects on corn, water and
soil ecological quality (Korboulewsky
et al.
2002).
Heavy metals such as Zn and Cu are essential
nutrients for plants and are present in sewage sludge
and sewage sludge compost. Research has shown the
effects of the application of sewage sludge on Cu
and Zn levels in maize. Sewage sludge promoted an
increase in total Zn concentration without becoming
excessive for human consumption (Reddy
et al.
1989,
Cajuste
et al.
2000, Warman and Termeer 2005a).
Chang
et al.
(1992) found that total Cu concentra-
tion in corn does not exceed the limit of 25 mg kg
–1
,
but that this limit could be exceeded when Cu con-
centrations greater than 1500 kg ha
–1
are applied to
topsoil. Total Zn concentration in maize tissue may
exceed the limit of 300 mg kg
–1
when high amounts
of Zn are applied to the soil (Lutrick
et al.
1982).
Chang
et al.
(1992) recommended Zn to be applied
at concentrations of 3500 kg ha
–1
to prevent adverse
effects on plant growth. However, while there are
a few studies about the effects of agricultural land
application of sewage sludge compost on Cu and
Zn concentrations in plants, only a small number of
studies focus on corn as the source of study (Cajuste
et al.
2000, Warman and Termeer 2005a).
The use of sewage sludge in the production of
maize and grass as forage has also been documented
(Warman and Termeer 2005b, Mantovi
et al.
2005).
These studies have evaluated the productivity, con-
centration and uptake of N, P and K by plants, as
well as heavy metal concentrations in plant tissues
and soil, but not the corn quality.
The disposal of municipal sewage sludge is an
environmental problem that cities face today, and the
use of these wastes as fertilizers is an issue of debate.
In view of the above, the present study was carried
out to assess the effect of different sewage sludge
or sewage sludge compost concentrations on quality
characteristics and yield of maize (
Zea mays
L.). Ni,
Cu and Zn accumulation in soil and corn grain was also
quantiFed to determine the relationship between heavy
metal accumulation and type of organic amendment.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Study area
The experiment was conducted in an agricultural
farm in a rural area of Toluca (México), located at
EFFECTS OF SEWAGE SLUDGE AND SEWAGE SLUDGE COMPOST ON SOIL AND MAIZE
305
19º 23´ 57´´ N latitude, 99º 42´ 47´´ W longitude
and 2600 m above sea level, between March and
November of 2006. This period of the year is char-
acterized by mean monthly maximum and minimum
temperatures of around 15 and 11.3 ºC respectively.
Total rainfall is 765.3 mm (García 1988).
The soil is characterized as clay loam Haplic
Phaeozem (CETENAL 1976, FAO/ISRIC/ISSS
1998); it is used for dryland farming (
Zea mais
L. or
Vicia faba
L.) and is rarely irrigated. The geology is
alluvial (INEGI 1999).
Experimental design
Nine land plots of 8
x
6 m each were de±ned and
distributed in a latin square. Three plots were used as
controls and treated with N-P-K inorganic fertilizer
with a 150-75-30 formulation (IF-S), another three
were treated with 18 Mg dried sludge ha
–1
of sewage
sludge (Sw-S), and the remaining three plots were
treated with an equal ±eld rate of compost (SwC-S).
Sewage sludge and compost
Sewage sludge (Sw) was collected from a munici-
pal wastewater treatment company called ECOSYS
in Toluca, Mexico. For compost, Sw was mixed
with fragments of corn stalks as a source of carbon
and with shredded tire chips as a bulking agent. The
composting was carried out as 55 ºC, to kill pathogens
and decompose phytotoxic substances, for 35 days
in cone-shapped, 1.5-m diameter static piles with a
C/N 30-40 ratio according to Garrido
et al
. (2005).
Sewage sludge and sewage sludge compost (SwC)
samplings were performed according to EPA meth-
odology (1988), taking an individual sample of Sw
or SwC of approximately 3 kg during seven days of
wastewater plant operation. These were placed in
polythene bags, air dried in the shade and mixed to
form a compound sample. Later, they were quartered,
±nely ground, passed through a 2-mm stainless steel
sieve and stored in a refrigerator (4 ºC).
Soil sampling
Soil samples were collected from the Ap horizon
(0-20 cm). Sampling was conduced prior to soil
amendment and at the end of the corn growth cycle.
All samples were air-dried and ground in an agate
mortar, homogenized and sieved to <2 mm, prior
to being stored in plastic bags at room temperature
until analysis.
Chemical analysis
All tests were performed at a constant dry weight.
The chemical and physical determinations of soil
before amendment (S), Sw, SwC, IF-S and soil
mixtures (Sw-S and SwC-S), were cation exchange
capacity (CEC) and cation exchange (K, Ca, Mg, Na)
by the amonium acetate method (AS-12 method,
NOM-021-SEMARNAT-2000), pH in water suspen-
sion using a 1:2.5 soil:solution ratio (w:w) after 30-
min equilibrium time (McLean, 1982), organic mat-
ter content (OM) by the Walkley and Black (1947)
method, total N by the Kjeldahl digestion-distillation
procedure (Bremner 1996) and, phosphorous (P)
by the Olsen method (Bremner 1996). Total heavy
metal concentration was analyzed in samples sieved
through a 0.149-mm mesh and digested with aqua
regia (conc.
.
HNO
3
-conc. HCl) 4:1 v/v on a hot plate
and available heavy metals were determined using
0.005 M DTPA extraction (Lindsay and Norvell,
1978); the solutions were analyzed for Ni, Cu and
Zn by ²ame atomic absorption spectrophotometry
(AAS), Perkin Elmer model 3110 (Perkin Elmer,
Norwalk, CT, U.S.A.).
Plant analysis
Plant sampling was conducted according to
Eckblad (1991), obtaining a sample of 8 plants per
experimental plot, with a total of 24 plants per treat-
ment. The plants were taken from the middle groove
(4 and 5) of each plot. Corn grain samples of each plot
were harvested to determinate the chemical quality.
The chemical quality parameters of corn grains
were total nitrogen by micro Kjeldahl method (AOAC
1995), starch by enzymatic methods, acid detergent
±ber (ADF) and neutral detergent ±ber (NDF) by
the Van Soest method (1966), and protein by AOAC
(1995) method. Crop productivity was determined
according to Muchow (1994); total plant height (m)
was measured from the ground to the spike; stem
length (m) from the ground up to the youngest leaf
with exposed ligule; number of leaves per plant; leaf
area; number of nodes in the main stem; number of
ears; and total productivity of maize grain.
Heavy metals were determined using Van Loon’s
method (Van Loon
et al.
1973). Quanti±cation was
performed by ²ame atomic absorption spectropho-
tometry (AAS), Perkin Elmer model 3110 (Perkin
Elmer, Norwalk, CT, USA).
Data analysis
Statistical analysis was performed using Statgraph-
ics Plus ver. 5.0 software. An analysis of variance
(ANOVA) for the latin square design and Tukey’s test
(Montgomery 1984), at 95 % con±dence level, were
performed to detect signi±cant differences in soil and
plant characteristics between IF-S, Sw-S and SwC-S.
R. Vaca
et al.
306
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
According to the maximum permissible amounts
of Zn, Cu and Ni in sewage sludge and biosolids for
their Fnal disposal, as reported by Mexican Standards
(NOM-004-SEMARNAT-2002), the Sw and SwC
employed in this experiment were classiFed as excel-
lent amendments for agricultural use (
Table I
). The
selected chemical properties of S, Sw, SwC, I±-S, and
soil mixtures are given in
table II
. The pH, CEC and
exchangeable ions, did not change signiFcantly among
I±-S, Sw-S, and SwC-S (P > 0.05). The pH from I±-S
and soil mixtures was slightly acidic, promoting a high
availability of nutrients.
The sewage sludge compost contained less OM
than Sw; this could be due to microbial decomposi-
tion of carbon and its subsequent release as CO
2
(Baziramakenga and Simard 1998), therefore, dur-
ing the process of composting, OM mass and bulk
usually decrease due to the volatilization of organic
carbon to carbon dioxide (Peña
et al.
1992). The
carbon remaining after the bio-oxidative phase of
composting is relatively resistant to microbial deg-
radation (Bernal
et al.
1998). The agricultural land
application of Sw or SwC increased the content of
OM in soil (P < 0.05); at the end of the corn growth
cycle, OM increased 2.54 and 2.51-fold in Sw-S and
SwC-S with respect to I±-S, respectively (
Table II
).
Total N in soil increased 2 and 1.6-fold in Sw-S
and SwC-S with respect to I±-S, respectively; similar
results were found by Singh and Agrawal (2007). N
mineralization of the organic fraction could increase
with the subsequent application of organic amend-
ments; and so organic N will gradually become
inorganic N, which is used by plants (Rodriguez
et
al.
2003, Warman and Termeer 2005b). P concentra-
tion in Sw-S and SwC-S was signiFcantly higher (P
< 0.05) than in I±-S (
Table II
). The absorption of P
added to the soil through the application of Sw or
SwC was promoted by the presence of Ca
2+
in the
soil, since this element is characterized by having
a high P Fxing capacity. It has been reported that P
added to soil by compost or other fertilizers could
form complexes with Ca
2+
ions (Korboulewsky
et al.
2002, Esteller
et al
. 2009) making them less available
to plants. Higher quantities of proteinic materials
TABLE I.
HEAVY METAL CONCENTRATIONS IN SOIL, SEWAGE SLUDGE, AND SEWAGE SLUDGE
COMPOST
Metal
Maximum permitted
(mg kg
–1
)
Concentration measured
(mg kg
–1
)
Soil
a
Sewage sludge
b
S
Sw
CSw
Good
Excellent
Zn
110 – 400
7500
2800
32.71 ² 1.23
808.60 ² 2.02
760.75 ² 1.68
Cu
60 – 125
4300
1500
8.03 ² 0.65
243.44 ² 2.33
239.64 ² 1.89
Ni
20 – 100
420
420
nd
31.47 ² 0.35
31.23 ² 0.56
a
Kabata-Pendias and Pendias (1992).
b
NOM-004-SEMARNAT-2002. S, soil before amendment; Sw, sewage
sludge; SwC, sewage sludge compost; nd, below detection limit. Data are mean ² SE (n = 9).
TABLE II.
SELECTED CHEMICAL PROPERTIES O± SOIL BE±ORE AMENDMENT, SEWAGE SLUDGE, SEWAGE SLUDGE
COMPOST, ±ERTILIZED SOIL AND SOIL MIXTURES AT 180 DAYS A±TER AMENDMENT (CORN HARVEST)
S
Sw
SwC
I±-S
Sw-S
SwC-S
pH
6.4
² 0.11
6.4
² 0.10
7.0
² 0.23
6.1
a
² 0.28
6.2
a
² 0.10
6.2
a
² 0.10
OM (%)
3.11 ² 0.30
61.60 ² 2.30
59.66 ² 3.56
2.81
a
² 0.29
7.14
b
² 0.31
7.08
b
² 0.46
N (%)
0.11 ² 0.06
6.83 ² 1.38
4.95 ² 1.89
0.17
a
² 0.03
0.33
b
² 0.03
0.28
b
² 0.03
P (%)
93.60 ² 4.98
519.20 ² 13.00
494.54 ² 6.36
91.60
a
² 2.08
129.00
b
² 1.00
136.00
b
² 3.40
CEC (cmol kg
–1
)
18.0
² 3.4
39.0
² 2.2
41.0
² 3.8
18.1
a
² 0.9
20.7
a
² 4.1
20.0
a
² 1.6
Ca
2+
(cmol kg
–1
)
5.68 ² 0.33
10.67 ² 0.78
8.53 ² 0.69
6.76
a
² 0.51
6.62
a
² 0.06
6.60
a
² 0.68
Mg
2+
(cmol kg
–1
)
3.32 ² 0.09
6.25 ² 1.23
4.49 ² 0.44
4.10
a
² 0.46
5.29
a
² 0.54
4.42
a
² 0.52
K
+
(cmol kg
–1
)
0.21 ² 0.01
3.29 ² 0.80
2.78 ² 0.69
0.24
a
² 0.05
0.23
a
² 0.00
0.23
a
² 0.00
Na
+
(cmol kg
–1
)
0.17 ² 0.01
2.0
² 0.05
1.1
² 0.08
0.15
a
² 0.02
0.20
a
² 0.02
0.20
a
² 0.02
S, soil before amendment; Sw, sewage sludge; SwC, sewage sludge compost; I±-S, inorganic fertilizer-soil; Sw-S, sewage sludge-soil;
SwC-S, sewage sludge compost- soil. Data are mean ² SE (n = 9). Different letter in the same row show signiFcance differences (P ≤ 0.05).
EFFECTS OF SEWAGE SLUDGE AND SEWAGE SLUDGE COMPOST ON SOIL AND MAIZE
307
and polyphosphate compounds from detergents in
Sw (Singh and Agrawal 2007) increased N and P
contents in SwC and, therefore, in the soil mixtures.
Heavy metals in soil
In this study, total and available concentrations of
Zn, Cu and Ni in IF-S and soil mixtures are reported
(
Table III
). Zn was the most abundant metal, fol-
lowed by Ni and Cu.
IF-S had the lowest total and available concentra-
tion of Zn (P < 0.05) (
Table III
). Total Zn concentra-
tion increased in plots amended with compost and
sewage sludge due to the contribution of Zn by waste.
Special attention is given to Zn if the soil is amended
several times with these biosolids, because the Sw
and SwC applied to the soil presented high concen-
trations of this element, which may be available to
the plants. However, organic matter helps decrease
this effect, because stable complexes are formed,
which reduce the availability of this metal (Cripps
et al.
1992). Total Zn was negatively correlated with
pH (r = –0,645, P < 0.05); at low pH values most of
the Zn is present in cationic form (soluble), whereas
humate complexes are formed at increased values
(Shuman 1999). Zn is an element that reacts with
i) organic compounds from sewage sludge, which
control its speciation, mobility and bioavailability; ii)
organic acids from waste, including substances with
O-functional groups, and iii) other molecules that
form metal complexes; as a result of the properties
of organic polyelectrolytes, these complexes reduce
the activity of Zn
(Martinez and McBride 1999).
Data on metal bioavailability gives more indica-
tion of toxicity than the total content analysis, and
they could help predict the potential risk of metal
uptake by plants and mobility in the system (Bell
et
al.
1991). The lowest percentage of Zn availability
was observed in IF-S (14.88 %), followed by Sw-S
(16.95 %) and ±nally SwC-S (21.20 %); similar re-
sults were reported by Ciba
et al.
(1997).
Total Cu concentrations were similar in IF-S and
Sw-S, while SwC-S had signi±cantly higher values
(P < 0.05). The percentage of availability was as
follows: SwC-S (36.84 %) < Sw-S (38.91 %) < IF-S
(43.64 %). This element has less mobility in soil
amended with sewage sludge or compost because it
forms stable links with organic matter, thus decreas-
ing availability (Zhu and Alva 1993).
Although Zn and Cu concentrations increased
with the addition of waste, ±nal metal concentrations
in SwC-S and Sw-S remained below the maximum
allowable metal concentrations in soil according to
Kabata-Pendias and Pendias (1992) (
Table I
).
There were no signi±cant differences between
IF-S and soil mixtures with respect to total Ni con-
centration (P > 0.05) (
Table III
). Available Ni was
low in all treatments. Similar results were reported
by Thompson
et al.
(2001) and Bedell
et al.
(2006).
Productivity and corn grain nutritional quality
Maize plants cultivated in soil mixtures were
signi±cantly higher than IF-S (P < 0.05) (
Table IV
).
TABLE III.
TOTAL AND AVAILABLE METALS OF FERTILIZED SOIL AND SOIL MIXTURES AT 180 DAYS AFTER AMEND-
TOTAL AND AVAILABLE METALS OF FERTILIZED SOIL AND SOIL MIXTURES AT 180 DAYS AFTER AMEND-
OF FERTILIZED SOIL AND SOIL MIXTURES AT 180 DAYS AFTER AMEND-
MENT (CORN HARVEST)
Total Zn
Total Cu
Total Ni
Available Zn
Available Cu
Available Ni
(mg kg
-1
)
(mg kg
–1
)
(mg kg
–1
)
(mg kg
–1
)
(mg kg
–1
)
(mg kg
–1
)
IF-S
35.15
a
² 0.63
10.06
a
² 0.07
9.48
a
² 2.63
5.23
a
² 0.07
4.39
a
² 0.04
0.39
b
² 0.05
Sw-S
41.65
b
² 0.45
11.05
a
² 0.58
10.93
a
² 2.04
7.06
b
² 0.50
4.30
a
² 0.22
0.67
ab
² 0.18
SwC-S
45.04
b
² 4.38
13.03
b
² 1.37
11.29
a
² 2.68
9.55
b
² 1.72
4.80
b
² 0.52
0.98
a
² 0.27
IF-S, inorganic fertilizer-soil; Sw-S, sewage sludge-soil; SwC-S, sewage sludge compost-soil. Data are mean ² SE (n = 9). Different
letter in the same column show signi±cance differences (P ≤ 0.05).
TABLE IV.
PRODUCTIVITY AND MORPHOLOGICAL PARAMETERS OF MAIZE CULTIVATED (180 DAYS AFTER SOWING)
ON FERTILIZED SOIL AND SOIL MIXTURES
Height
(m)
Stem diameter
(cm)
Number of
Leaves
Foliar area
(cm
–2
)
Number of
nodes
Number of
corn cob
Productivity
t ha
–1
IF-S
2.29
a
² 0.15
8.07
a
² 1.06
8.95
a
² 0.75
391.91
a
² 81.66
8.62
a
² 0.64
1.00
a
² 0.00
4.09
a
Sw-S
2.40
b
² 0.24
7.94
a
² 1.40
9.12
a
² 0.85
396.83
a
² 64.20
9.04
a
² 0.69
1.34
a
² 0.20
5.22
ab
SwC-S
2.47
b
² 0.15
7.90
a
² 0.92
9.20
a
² 2.30
439.51
b
² 82.07
8.95
a
² 0.64
1.16
a
² 0.38
5.77
b
IF-S, inorganic fertilizer-soil; Sw-S, sewage sludge-soil; SwC-S, sewage sludge compost-soil. Data are mean ² SE (n = 9). Different
letter in the same column indicate signi±cance differences (P ≤ 0.05).
R. Vaca
et al.
308
Wastes are rich in N and organic matter, providing
more nutrients to plants and promoting plant growth.
Stem diameter did not show signifcant diFFerences
among treatments (P > 0.05). The soil analysis re-
sults indicated similar concentrations oF Mg
+
in all
treatments (
Table II
), which could be related to the
uniFormity in stem diameter; this element is linked to
the production oF thick stems (Llanos 1984).
Number oF leaves and leaF area are very important
characteristics For corn cob development and the
flling oF the grain. The number oF leaves produced
per plant did not show signifcant diFFerences among
treatments (P > 0.05), since this characteristic is only
associated with the maize genotype. Plant growth in
SwC-S showed the largest leaF area (P < 0.05), while
I±-S and Sw-S did not show any diFFerence.
With regard to the number oF corn cobs per plant,
there were no signifcant diFFerences among treat-
ments (P > 0.05), but maize productivity (Mg ha
–1
)
in SwC-S was signifcantly higher than in I±-S (P
< 0.05) (
Table IV
). Leaves are the photosynthetic
machinery in plants, so it is expected that a larger leaF
area will provide more carbohydrates For grain flling
(Llanos 1984, Reyes 1990). This increase in grain
production may be explained by the improvement
in oil properties due to the OM and plant nutrients
present in sewage sludge (Melo
et al.
2007).
Several studies have Focused on phytotoxicity
caused by heavy metals and elements such as P and
N (Kidd
et al.
2007, Bose and Bhattacharyya 2008),
but only a Few works Focus on grain quality. In corn
and wheat crops, heavy metals such as Cu, Cd, Ni
and Zn are accumulated in diFFerent parts oF the plant,
such as leaves, stems and roots, but little is known
about their eFFect on starch, ND±, AD±, protein and
nitrogen. In this study, the application oF sewage
sludge or compost did not signifcantly aFFect these
chemical parameters in the grain corn (
Table V
) and
no signifcant diFFerences were observed between
treatments (P > 0.05). The quality values Found in
this work are lower than those established by Llanos
(1984), Reyes (1990) and ±AO (1993).
Heavy metals in corn grain
Maize plants showed normal growth in the feld
and did not exhibit any symptoms oF heavy metal
toxicity. Melo
et al.
(2007) observed that metals and
other toxic products did not aFFect maize plant growth
aFter the application oF sewage sludge to soil.
Cu and Zn concentrations in corn grain (
Table V
)
were not signifcantly diFFerent among I±-S, Sw-S
and SwC-S (P > 0.05). When pH in soil increases or
is between 5 and 7, Zn and Cu are less available and
less absorbed by plants.
In corn grain, Ni was below detection limits. The
trace content oF this heavy metal in the grain was not
associated with pH or metal concentration in the soil,
but rather attributed to the low metal availability and
high organic matter content in the soil (Mantovi
et al.
2005). Melo
et al.
(2007) conducted a study on maize
uptake oF Ni and Found that the addition oF sewage
sludge to the soil increases the content oF this metal
in the shoots, but not in the grain. This shows that Ni
translocation From the leaves and stem to the grain
is not signifcant.
The concentrations oF Zn and Ni in the corn grain
were lower than those reported For the same species
(Mantovi
et al.
2005). By contrast, the concentra-
tions oF Cu in the corn grain were higher than those
reported by Mantovi
et al.
(2005). Corn growth in
I±-S also showed high concentrations oF Cu, a Fact
attributed to the solubilization oF a metal-organic
complex by reducing pH to 6.1, which increased and
promoted Cu transFer to plant tissue. It is known that
heavy metal concentration in plants depends on con-
centrations oF waste, OM, soil pH and translocation,
which depends on plant species (Kim
et al.
2003,
Bose and Bhattacharyya 2008).
Zn concentration in wheat grain should be <
34 mg kg
-1
For it to be ft For human consumption
(Andersson and Petersson 1981); however, Zn
concentrations in maize cultivated in I±-S, Sw-S
and SwC-S were greater than those suggested For
wheat (
Table V
). With applications oF sewage sludge
and compost, Zn concentration in the grain did not
TABLE V
. CHEMICAL QUALITY AND METAL CONTENT IN MAIZE GRAIN CULTIVATED (180 DAYS A±TER SOWING)
ON ±ERTILIZED SOIL AND SOIL MIXTURES
Starch (%)
N (%)
Protein (%)
AD± (%)
ND± (%)
Zn (mg kg
–1
)
Cu (mg kg
–1
)
I±-S
71.34
a
² 0.68
1.83
a
² 0.14
11.45
a
² 0.91
8.08
a
² 2.35
23.65
a
² 2.95
40.88
a
² 3.17
26.20
a
² 1.17
Sw-S
70.65
a
² 2.93
1.76
a
² 0.11
11.06
a
² 0.70
11.04
a
² 6.34
24.77
a
² 12.11
40.47
a
² 2.40
25.33
a
² 4.81
SwC-S
66.99
a
² 0.78
1.71
a
² 0.17
10.70
a
² 1.08
7.03
a
² 0.59
21.62
a
² 1.19
42.43
a
² 4.80
27.60
a
² 1.19
I±-S, inorganic Fertilizer-soil; Sw-S, sewage sludge-soil; SwC-S, sewage sludge compost-soil. Data are mean ² SE (n = 9). DiFFerent
letter in the same column indicate signifcance diFFerences (P ≤ 0.05).
EFFECTS OF SEWAGE SLUDGE AND SEWAGE SLUDGE COMPOST ON SOIL AND MAIZE
309
increase signifcantly and was similar to IF-S. The
results o± this study were similar to those observed
by Bose and Bhattacharyya (2008). Cu availability
was higher than Zn; plants take Zn rather than Cu
because antagonism occurs between these elements
(Kabata-Pendias and Pendias 1992).
The concentrations o± total and available Cu were
low in Sw-S and SwC-S, in contrast, concentrations o±
this element in corn grain were quite high, mainly due
to Cu concentration increasing continuously with the
successive plant growth stages and to the roots ability
to retain Cu under conditions o± both Cu defciency and
excess (Bose and Bhattacharyya 2008). Cu concentra-
tion in grain increased due to the feld rate application
o± sewage sludge and compost to the soil, indicating
that Cu was available to the plants even though the soils
were neither acidic nor calcareous (Alloway 1995).
CONCLUSIONS
The results o± the present study indicate that the
addition o± sewage sludge or sewage sludge compost
does not imply environmental risks, o±±ering a solu-
tion to the problem o± fnal disposal o± organic waste
in this region.
Soil amended with sewage sludge and sewage
sludge compost increased organic matter (2.5-±old),
phosphorus (> 1.4-±old) and nitrogen content (>
1.6-±old), as compared to the inorganically ±ertilized
soil (N-P-K).
The addition o± these organic wastes to the soil
did not cause toxicity nor did it a±±ect the number o±
leaves and corn cobs per plant; nevertheless, it did
increase grain production. The percentages o± starch,
ether extract, protein, phosphorus, and nitrogen, were
within the range established by FAO (1993). Neutral
detergent fber in the corn grain increased with the
addition o± sewage sludge, without a±±ecting the
quality parameters.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research was supported by CONACyT
(Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Project
No. 33569-T).
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