Nitrate and phosphate leaching in a Phaeozem soil treated with biosolids, composted biosolids and inorganic fertilizers.Waste Manag. 2009 Jun; 29(6):1936-44.WM
The use of organic wastes in agriculture may increase the production of crops by incorporating organic matter and nutrients into the soil, and by improving its physical characteristics; however, this use may cause environmental problems such as the leaching of certain ions. The objective of this study was to establish possible nitrogen and phosphorus leaching under real field conditions in Phaeozem soils. The experimental work was performed in a corn (Zea mays L.) field where three plots were conditioned with inorganic fertilizer, three plots with 4.5 Mgha(-1) of biosolids on dry basis, and three plots with the same amount of composted biosolids. The quality of biosolids and composted biosolids complied with the Mexican Official Standards. Soil water samples were collected with suction cups during two agricultural cycles and were analysed. Soil samples were also taken and analysed. The N-NO(3) concentrations in soil water fluctuated between 0.9 and 98mgL(-1) in the composted biosolid treatment, between 0.7 and 64 mgL(-1) in the biosolid treatment, and between 1 and 61 mgL(-1) in the inorganic fertilizer treatment. The maximum concentration of N-NO(2) and N-NH(3) in soil water was 1.02 and 2.65 mgL(-1), respectively. The greatest percentage of nitrogen leached is produced when inorganic fertilizer is used (37.4% and 24.0% N leached in the first and second years, respectively), followed by composted biosolids (17.1% and 13.5% N leached in the first and second years, respectively) and last by biosolids (11% for both years). This difference could be related to the form in which nitrogen is present in the fertilizers, while commercial fertilizer is as inorganic nitrogen, organic wastes are basically presented as organic nitrogen. The maximum PO(4)(3-) concentration in soil water was 1.9 mgL(-1) in the composted biosolid treatment, 1.7mgL(-1) in the biosolid treatment and 0.9 mgL(-1) in the inorganic fertilizer treatment. The estimated percentage of leached phosphorus was less than 1% for all treatments. The minimum leaching that occurred seemed to be due to a sorption-precipitation process.