Longterm influence of liquid sewage sludge on the organic carbon and nitrogen content of a furrow-irrigated desert soil

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In this study we evaluated the impact of five annual liquid sewage-sludge applications on the organic C and N content of a furrow-irrigated desert soil. Mineralization rates showed that sludge organic matter is mineralized rapidly (65% per year). Resistant residual sludge organic matter accumulation resulted in a theoretical increase in total soil organic C of 0.013% for the single sludge rate or 0.038% for three annual applications. These small additions were not detected in sludged soils at any depth to 270 cm. Similarly, increases in total soil N were not detected at any depth. However, soluble forms of organic C and N did increase in sludged soils relative to the non-sludged soils. In addition, soluble C:N ratios decreased significantly in the sludged soils. Soluble C and N also increased with depth due to leaching. This study therefore shows that applications of liquid sludge onto desert soils could affect the status of underground aquifers with respect to nitrate pollution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 1992



  • Desert soil
  • Furrow irrigation
  • Leaching
  • Organic carbon
  • Sludge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science

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