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Residual nitrogen availability from soils treated with sewage sludge in a field experiment



Residual nitrogen availability from soils treated with sewage sludge in a field experiment



Journal of Environmental Quality 9(3): 505-512



The residual N availability from sewage sludges applied to a Hubbard sandy loam soil was determined. In Study 1, 3 sludge types-anaerobically digested (119, 237 and 466 metric tons/ha), aerobically digested (244 metric tons/ha) and mixed primary-settled and waste-activated (493 metric tons/ha)-were applied over a 3 yr period. Soil samples were collected from the field experiment 2 yr after the final sludge application. Study II samples were obtained from plots of a field experiment in which an anaerobically digested sludge had been applied (63, 125 and 200 metric tons/ha) 4 yr earlier. Several biological and chemical characteristics were examined as indexes of N availability. Cumulative N mineralization during aerobic incubation was approximately linearly related to time1/2 for all treatments. Index values for Study I samples varied widely, but in general, reflected the quantity of sludge added: total soil C (1.05-4.66%), total soil N (0.092-0.608%), indigenous inorganic N (12-266 .mu.g/g), N mineralized during 52 wk of aerobic incubation (87-884 .mu.g/g) and during 16 wk of anaerobic incubation (14-525 .mu.g/g), N mineralization potential, No (126-1010 .mu.g/g), and autoclave-extractable N (76-441 .mu.g/g). The sludge application rate was more important than the sludge type in affecting N mineralization. The sludge-treated soils from Study II had lower and less varied index values than those from Study I. The evaluation of N-availability indexes was based on the degree of correlation between the index values and N uptake by irrigated, field grown maize (Zea mays L.) (Study I) or sorghum-sudangrass (Sorghum vulgare sudanese L., cv. Trudan V) grown in the greenhouse (Study II). Each index was useful in determining relative differences of N availability for this soil having received greatly differing organic N treatments from sewage sludge. N mineralized during short and long periods of incubation correlated with plant N uptake equally well. The chemical indexes of N availability were as reliable as more time-consuming incubation procedures for determining the N-supplying capacity of soils.

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Accession: 000969566

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