Effect of compost treatment of sewage sludge on nitrogen behavior in two soils

Rodrigo Studart Corrêa, Robert E White, Anthony J Weatherley
Waste Management 2006, 26 (6): 614-9
This work aims to evaluate the effects of compost treatment of digested sewage sludge on nitrogen behavior in two soils, a Spodosol and an Oxisol soil. Digested sewage sludge was composted with sawdust and woodchips, diluting the total nitrogen to one-fourth (dry mass basis) of its original value. Then, sludge and compost were added to the two soils on an equivalent dry weight basis to consider the risk of NO3- -N leaching. Compost treatment of sewage sludge has slowed down the release of mineral-N to half in the Spodosol and to one-third in Oxisol soil. As a result, NO3- -N concentrations in soils incubated with compost were less than half of the amounts found from soils incubated with digested sludge. Estimates were made of the maximum monthly nitrate to leach from the four combinations of soil and sludge treatment. Application of digested sludge, at a higher nitrogen application rate, resulted in a higher nitrate leaching potential than application of the compost product. Soil type also played an important role, with the Oxisol having slightly higher estimated leaching potential than the Spodosol. The higher nitrate release rate in the Oxisol is counterbalanced by its higher field capacity to lessen the expected difference between the two soils.

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