Effects of repeated applications of sewage sludge and municipal compost on bio availability of soil nutrients in onion (Allium cepa L) cultivation

Document Type : Original Article


Soil and Water Research Department, Isfahan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, AREEO, Isfahan, Iran


The increasing trend of water, soil and environmental degradation caused by the excessive use of chemicals material has encouraged researchers into organic farming in recent years. Despite all the positive effects associated with the consumption of municipal compost and sewage sludge on the physical and chemical properties of soils, there are still many concerns about environmental and health issues. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of accumulation of heavy elements in soil and plant by different amounts of organic fertilizers on municipal compost and sewage sludge in stable plots after 5 years.
Material and methods:
This research was carried out in stable plots (dimensions of each plot was 40 m2) at Ruddasht irrigation and drainage research station in Isfahan with four organic manure treatments including municipal compost and sewage sludge fertilizer with control in a randomized complete block design with three replications and five consecutive year. The treatments were: a) without the use of any organic fertilizers the experimental periods (control). B) treatment of 25 tons per hectare of municipal compost fertilizer. C-treatment of 50 tons per hectare of municipal compost fertilizer. D) Treatment of 15 tons per hectare of sewage sludge. E) Treatment of 30 tons per hectare of sewage sludge.
Results and discussion:
The results showed that organic fertilizer application increased soil organic matter. Also, the use of both types of organic fertilizers, especially at higher levels, caused a significant increase in phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and lead in soil. The use of organic treatments had no effect on the increase of lead and cadmium in the soil in the first stage; however, the consumption of several consecutive years of municipal compost (treatment of 50 tons per hectare) increased the available lead in the soil, in the second stage. Application of organic fertilizers increased the macro (e. g. N, P, K) and micro nutrients (e. g. Fe, Zn, Mn and Cu) in the onion shoot. The highest amounts of nutrient elements was observed in treatment of 50 ton / ha municipal compost, in onion shoot. In most cases, there was no significant difference between 50 ton / ha municipal compost treatment and 30 ton / ha sewage sludge treatment. The concentration of these elements increased significantly with the use of organic fertilizers by five years. In the case of copper, this trend was reversed, and the rate of absorption of this element in the second stage was lower than that of the first stage due to the increase in the concentration of other elements such as phosphorus and the competition between the various elements in the absorption by the plant. Conversely, the rate of copper was reduced uptake in the second stage. This was due to increase of other elements concentrations, such as phosphorus, and the competition between different elements to be absorbed by the plant. The use of different fertilizer treatments in the first stage only increased the amount of zinc in the onion bulb, but in the second stage, as a result of several years of waste compost and sewage sludge consumption, the concentrations of nitrogen, potassium, copper, iron and zinc in the onion bulb increased significantly. The concentration of lead and cadmium in the plant was low in different treatments, which was not measurable by atomic absorption.
In general, municipal compost and sewage sludge, at the studied levels, increased soil organic matter and the concentration of nutrients in the plant, especially in terms of micronutrients such as zinc and iron.


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