Effects of long-term soil amendment with sewage sludges on soil humic acid thermal and molecular properties.Chemosphere. 2008 Dec; 73(11):1838-44.C
Sewage sludges are frequently used as soil amendments due to their high contents of organic matter and nutrients, particularly N and P. However, their effects upon the chemistry of soil humic acids, one of the main components of the soil organic matter, need to be more deeply studied in order to understand the relation between organic matter structure and beneficial soil properties. Two sewage sludges subjected to different types of pre-treatment (composted and thermally dried) with very different chemical compositions were applied for three consecutive years to an agricultural soil under long-term field study. Thermal analysis (TG-DTG-DTA) and solid-state (13)C NMR spectroscopy were used to compare molecular and structural properties of humic acids isolated from sewage sludges, and to determine changes in amended soils. Thermally dried sewage sludge humic acids showed an important presence of alkyl and O/N-alkyl compounds (70%) while composted sludge humic acids comprised 50% aromatic and carbonyl carbon. In spite of important differences in the initial chemical and thermal properties of the two types of sewage sludges, the chemical and thermal properties of the soil humic acids were quite similar to one another after 3 years of amendment. Long-term application of both sewage sludges resulted in 80-90% enrichment in alkyl carbon and organic nitrogen contents of the soil humic acid fraction.