The impact of a water treatment sludge on the fertility of a silt loam soil was assessed by monitoring the yield and elemental composition of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) shoots in a greenhouse study. Application of sludge at rates from 2-10% (air dry weight basis) raised the soil pH from 5.3 to 8.0 which enhanced plant growth. A substantial reduction in metal (Cd, Zn, Cu, Ni) uptake was observed with sludge amendments, even at the highest rates. The alkaline nature of this sludge (pH=9.3, calcium carbonate equivalence=53%) suggests its potential use as a liming material for agricultural soils. Overly alkaline conditions should be avoided however, as high application rates combined with ammonia fertilization had an antagonistic effect on plant growth, possibly from P deficiency induced by struvite (MgNH4PO4) formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Soil Science