Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 511–517 | Cite as

Soil biochemical activities and the geometric mean of enzyme activities after application of sewage sludge and sewage sludge biochar to soil

  • J. Paz-Ferreiro
  • G. Gascó
  • B. Gutiérrez
  • A. Méndez
Original Paper


There is a need to improve the way in which wastes, such as sewage sludges, are managed and a potential way to proceed would be to transform them into biochar. On the other hand, there is a growing interest in the use of soil biochemical properties as indicators of soil quality because they are sensitive to alterations in soil management. Thus, we have studied the effect of a biochar obtained from sewage sludge on soil biochemical properties in an organic soil using two doses of biochar and comparing these results with the control soil and with soils amended with the same two doses of unpyrolyzed sewage sludge. Microbial biomass C, soil respiration, net N mineralization and several enzyme activities (dehydrogenase, β-glucosidase, phosphomoesterase and arylsulphatase) were monitored. The geometric mean of enzyme activities (GMea) was used as a soil quality index. Individual biochemical properties showed a different response to the treatments, while GMea showed an increase in the quality of soils amended with the high biochar dose and a decrease in those amended with a high sewage sludge dose. The geometric mean of enzyme activities was a suitable index to condense the whole set of soil enzyme values in a single numerical value, which was sensitive to management practices.


Biochar Soil quality Soil enzymes Sewage sludge Forest soils Soil biochemical properties 

Supplementary material

374_2011_644_MOESM1_ESM.doc (48 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 47 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Paz-Ferreiro
    • 1
  • G. Gascó
    • 1
  • B. Gutiérrez
    • 1
  • A. Méndez
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Edafología, ETSI AgrónomosUPMMadridSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Ingeniería de materiales, ETSI MinasUPMMadridSpain

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