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Composting: a useful tool to improve the agronomic aptitude of sewage sludge in saline soil for growing durum wheat

A field-scale experiment established the agronomic performance of air-dried sewage sludge and composted sludge for winter wheat. The objective of the study was to initial measure the response of nutrient uptake once applying air-dried sewage sludge, composted sewage sludge and a commercial fertiliser to soil in grain and straw of winter wheat (Triticum turgidum L. cv. Vitron), to research the variations within the main soil characteristics in relevancy the initial soil once applying fertilizer treatments, and to determine the variations among treatments once harvest. Composted sewage sludge kept constant the organic matter level in soil after harvest and promoted higher Zn, Cu and Mn contents and yields than air-dried sewage sludge or the  commercial fertiliser. No significant differences occurred among treatments for the studied parameters, except for nitrogen, organic matter and Zn in soil. Fe and Cu content in straw were higher when air-dried sewage sludge was used. No significant differences in grain nutrients content were observed. Variations in soil composition were similar among treatments. Since no nutritional imbalances were observed in the grain or straw of durum wheat, sewage sludge from the Alcázar de San Juan WWTP (especially  composted) is recommended as an alternative to standard commercial fertilisation.

Author(s): Jorge de las Heras and Pilar Mañas

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