, Volume 166, Issue 1-4, pp 303-319

Heavy Metals in Soil Treated with Sewage Sludge Composting, their Effect on Yield and Uptake of Broad Bean Seeds (Vicia faba L.)

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Abstract

The final use that may be given to biosolids that result from the treatment of residual municipal waters depends on their physicochemical and microbiological characteristics. Their organic matter content and wealth of essential elements may allow their use for agricultural fertilization purposes. The objective of this research project was to evaluate the physicochemical interactions between soil treated with biosolids and compost from municipal residual waters, and the nutritional parameters of broad bean seeds (Vicia faba L.). The studied area is located in the central region of the Mexican Republic. The biosolids were treated with aerated static pile composting. The experimental work was performed in the area surrounding the East Toluca Macroplant, where nine 2 × 3 m plots were defined and distributed in a Latin square; 3 plots were used as controls (without conditioning), 3 were conditioned with 4.5 Mg ha−1 of biosolids on a dry base, and 3 were conditioned with the same amount of compost. The parameters determined for biosolids, compost, and soil were: pH, electrical conductivity (EC), organic matter (OM), total nitrogen, available phosphorus, cation exchange capacity (CEC), exchangeable cations (Ca, Mg, Na and K), total and available heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni and Zn); for the plant: height reached, green seeds productivity and yield per treatment (ton ha−1); for the seeds: humidity, ashes, fiber, fats, protein, starch and total and available heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni and Zn). pH was slightly acid in soil treated with biosolids (6.71). OM and CEC did not represent significant differences. Total concentrations of Cr, Zn, Ni and Cu in soil presented significant differences (p < 0.05) between treated soil and the control, Cd was not detected. Cu was the most available metal in soil treated with compost (15.31%), Cd and Cr were not detected. The plants had higher growth rates with biosolids (112.22 cm) and compost (103.73 cm); higher green broad bean productivity and higher seed yield, especially in plots containing biosolids, which had rates three times higher than the control. In regards to broad bean seeds, content of ashes, fiber, fats, protein, starch and heavy metals (Cu, Ni and Zn), there were no significant differences between the treatments. Cd and Cr were not detected. In conclusion, it has been proven that the use of biosolids and compost studied in this broad bean crop do not involve an environmental risk, and thus give way to a solution to the problem of final disposition of biosolids in the region.