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Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Waste Management
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/wasman

Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its


quality: A field study to evaluate benefits and risks
P. Alvarenga a,b,⇑, P. Palma a,c, C. Mourinha a, M. Farto a, J. Dôres a, M. Patanita a,d, C. Cunha-Queda b,
T. Natal-da-Luz e, M. Renaud e, J.P. Sousa e
a
Department of Applied Sciences and Technologies, Polytechnic Institute of Beja, Beja, Portugal
b
LEAF – Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
c
CIMA – Centro de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental, FCT, Universidade do Algarve, Faro, Portugal
d
GeoBioTec, FCT, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Campus da Caparica, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal
e
CFE – Centre for Functional Ecology, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: A field study was established to assess the effects of a sewage sludge (SS), a mixed municipal solid waste
Received 25 August 2016 compost (MMSWC) and a compost produced from agricultural wastes (AWC), in a Vertisol, using Lolium
Revised 31 December 2016 multiflorum L. The amendments were applied for two consecutive years: 6, 12 and 24 t dry matter ha1 for
Accepted 2 January 2017
SS, and the amendment doses for MMSWC and AWC were calculated to deliver the same amount of
Available online xxxx
organic matter (OM) per unit area. The amendments had significant beneficial effects on some soil prop-
erties (e.g. soil OM, NKjeldahl, extractable P and K), and on plant productivity parameters (e.g. biomass
Keywords:
yield, chlorophyll, foliar area). For instance, soil OM increased from 0.78% to 1.71, 2.48 and 2.51%, after
Sewage sludge
Compost
two consecutive years of application of 24 t dry matter ha1 of SS, MMSWC and AWC, respectively, while
Soil organic amendment the plant biomass obtained increased from 7.75 t ha1 to 152.41, 78.14 and 29.26 t ha1, for the same
Recycling amendments. On the plant, effects were more pronounced for SS than for both compost applications, a
Trace elements consequence of its higher capacity to provide N to the plant in a readily available form. However, after
Field experiment two years of application, the effects on soil properties were more noticeable for both composts, as their
OM is more resistant to mineralization, which endures their beneficial effects on soil. Cadmium, Cr, Ni
and Pb pseudo-total concentrations, were not affected significantly by the application of the organic
wastes to soil, in all tested doses, neither their extractability by 0.01 M CaCl2. On the contrary, Cu and
Zn pseudo-total concentrations increased significantly in the second year of the experiment, following
the application of the higher rate of MMSWC and AWC, although their extractability remained very
low (<0.5% of their pseudo-total fraction). Trace elements concentrations in the aboveground plant mate-
rial were lower than their maximum tolerable levels for cattle, used as an indicator of risk of their entry
into the human food chain. Despite these results, it is interesting to note that the SS promoted a signif-
icant increase in the foliar concentrations of Cu, Ni and Zn that did not happen in composts application,
which can be explained by the reduction of the soil pH, as a consequence of SS degradation in soil.
Concluding, if this type of organic wastes were to be used in a single application, the rate could be as high
as 12 or even 24 t ha1, however, if they are to be applied in an annual basis, the application rates should
be lowered to assure their safe application (e.g. to 6 t ha1). Moreover, it is advisable to use more stable
and mature organic wastes, which have longer lasting positive effects on soil characteristics.
Ó 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction ment: the possibility of continuing the life cycle of materials


should be considered, in the perspective of a circular economy. In
The European Waste Framework Directive (Council Directive this context, it is very important to consider the agricultural bene-
2008/98/EC) has introduced a paradigmatic shift in waste manage- ficial use of organic rich wastes, alternative to their landfilling or
incineration, which will allow the organic matter and nutrient
recycling, contributing to the ‘‘End-of-Waste” policy in Europe
⇑ Corresponding author at: Department of Applied Sciences and Technologies, (Mantovi et al., 2005; Council Directive 2008/98/EC; Fytili and
Polytechnic Institute of Beja, Beja, Portugal.
Zabaniotou, 2008; Fernández et al., 2009; Saveyn and Eder, 2014).
E-mail address: paula.alvarenga@ipbeja.pt (P. Alvarenga).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
0956-053X/Ó 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
2 P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx

This is a potentially important strategy, since in Portugal, as in compost producers, due to the stringency of the limit values for
other Mediterranean countries, cropland soils have usually very some of the contaminants, especially trace elements.
low topsoil organic matter content and are very prone to erosion Considering the above, it is obvious the importance of evaluat-
(Sánchez-Monedero et al., 2004; Antolín et al., 2005; Fernández ing the benefits and potential risks of the application of sludges
et al., 2009). To overcome this problem, the use of organic wastes and composted organic wastes to agricultural soils. Only by
as soil improvers is attractive, because they: (i) enhance soil increasing knowledge in this area, it will be possible to progres-
organic C storage, (ii) enable valuable components to be recycled sively contest the opposition of the local stakeholders to the use
(e.g. N, P and K), (iii) promote the formation of stable aggregates; of sludge and organic wastes’ compost as fertilizers. To make that
(iv) improve water holding capacity, soil aeration and cation possible, it is important to work with the municipal wastewater
exchange capacity (Antolín et al., 2005; Larchevêque et al., 2006; treatment plant (WWTP) operators whom will need to invest in
Fernández et al., 2009; Diacono and Montemuro, 2010; Mattana stabilization processes, and update some treatment infrastructure
et al., 2014). In fact, in adequately sludge-amended soils, crop yield (Mininni et al., 2015). Another important step is the awareness
can be higher than in well-fertilized soils (Singh and Agrawal, effort for the separation at the source of wastes intended to be
2008), and the long-term advantages on soil properties are very composted, which would reduce the contaminant content of the
important, as Mantovi et al. (2005) have found in a twelve-year compost produced (Cesaro et al., 2015).
field experiment with liquid, dewatered and composted sewage In previous studies, Alvarenga et al. (2015, 2016a, 2016b) car-
sludge (5 and 10 t DM ha1 yr1): OM, total N and available P have ried out a full characterization of nine organic wastes, potentially
increased, while alkalinity has decreased. interesting to be used as organic soil improvers, already available
However, the use of sludges and composts produced from to the end-users. It was possible to verify that, for certain sewage
organic wastes as fertilizers represents a potential risk to the envi- sludges, the major limitation to their application is related to the
ronment, because of the high contaminants content often found in pathogenic microorganisms’ concentrations, a consequence of the
the organic wastes (e.g. metals, organic contaminants, and patho- lack of a final stabilization step in their production. However,
genic microorganisms). This risk may be aggravated if those con- regarding their content of heavy metals and organic contaminants,
taminants are mobilized in the soil, which turns them available they comply with the Portuguese legislation (Decree-Law No.
for plant uptake and/or to be transported in drainage waters 276/2009) and Council Directive 86/278/EEC. In the case of com-
(Aparicio et al., 2009; Smith, 2009a, 2009b; Clarke and Smith, posts produced from organic wastes, the Portuguese legislation is
2011; Kupper et al., 2014). In fact, bioavailability of metals may recent (Decree-Law No. 103/2015) and shows a more protectionist
increase for many years in soils amended with excessive rates of tendency for soils than the legislation on sludge. It is for that rea-
sludge (Singh and Agrawal, 2008). Mantovi et al. (2005), with the son that some important composts available locally presented
results from twelve years of continuous biosolid land spreading, problems concerning their total metals content (Alvarenga et al.,
elected some risks to soil: a small build-up of heavy metals, espe- 2015). Therefore, even though the use of these sewage sludges
cially Cu and Zn, increased availability of P, that can be hazardous and composts is prohibited in soils intended for some specific agro-
for water eutrophication, and the higher Zn content of amended nomic practices, they can be used for other activities, such as silvi-
soil, that, in conjunction with pH reduction, could affect soil ecol- culture, green spaces and land reclamation (Sánchez-Monedero
ogy due to Zn accumulation. et al., 2004). Consequently, there is a basic need to know the ben-
In fact, if a sludge is intended to be used as fertilizer in growing efits and risks of their land application, especially to better under-
crops for human consumption and feed production, a strong stand the behaviour of metals in soil, conveyed by materials with
emphasis should be given to the biological and chemical safety distinct degree of stabilization, which can affect their availability
of the material (Roig et al., 2012; Cieslik et al., 2015). The Sludge and the potential risks of their entry into the human food chain.
Directive (Council Directive 86/278/EEC) is currently under revi- Taking this in account, a field experiment was established with
sion (Fytili and Zabaniotou, 2008; European Commission, 2014), the application of three of the organic materials selected from the
to reduce the standard limit values for metals, and set limits for previous study: a sewage sludge (SS), a mixed municipal solid
emerging organic pollutants and hygienic indicator parameters waste compost (MMSWC), and a compost produced from agricul-
(Mininni et al., 2015). Moreover, the application of fresh organic tural wastes (AWC) in different doses, in plots sown with Lolium
wastes, like raw sewage sludges, can also be problematic and affect multiflorum L., in order to assess the effects of the amendments:
negatively soil properties and plant growth, even for sludges with (i) on the soil properties (a Vertisol); (ii) on the plant nutritional
low contaminants load (Fernández et al., 2009). An option to cope status and productivity; and (iii) on the behaviour of metals in
with some of the risks from the organic wastes application to soil is the soil/plant system. The experiment was repeated in two succes-
their composting (Roca-Pérez et al., 2009). This biological treat- sive seasons, to evaluate the potential cumulative effects of metals
ment arises as an important option for the organic waste manage- in soils and the mid-term effects on the soil fertility parameters
ment, with environmental and economic benefits, as allows for the that could arise from the application of organic materials with dif-
biooxidation of organic matter into a more stable and less degrad- ferent degrees of stability and maturity. With these results, maybe
able material, free of phytotoxic compounds, pathogens, parasites it will be possible to recommend application doses, or limitations
and weed seeds, and partially humified (Bernal et al., 1998; to those doses.
Cunha-Queda et al., 2002; Bernal et al., 2009; Fernández et al.,
2009; Raj and Antil, 2011). That is why, in the assessment of com-
post quality for soil application, it is important to consider not only 2. Materials and methods
their contaminants content but also their maturity and stability
(Wu et al., 2000; Ko et al., 2008; Alvarenga et al., 2016a). However, 2.1. Organic wastes characteristics
Cesaro et al. (2015) reviewed the European regulations and guide-
lines used to evaluate compost quality and alerted for their lack of Dewatered municipal SS was obtained from a municipal
uniformity. In Portugal, the recently published legislation for fertil- wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), located in a small village of
izing materials, Decree-Law No. 103/2015, allowed the fulfilment 6.000 inhabitants in Alentejo (Portugal), with rural characteristics.
of a gap on the safe application of composted materials to soil leg- The WWTP has activated-sludge treatment, with high aeration
islation, but will create, at the same time, some problems to the rate, followed by nitrification-denitrification. The sludge is

Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx 3

mechanically dewatered by centrifugation, allowing about 15% dry 2.2. Field experiment set-up
matter content, and was, at the time, sent to landfill (Alvarenga
et al., 2015). The field experiment was set-up in Beja, Portugal
The MMSWC sample was obtained in a composting plant near (38°010 42.0800 N, 7°520 11.7000 W), in a Vertisol (FAO and USDA soil
Setúbal (Portugal), which takes waste from about 113.000 inhabi- taxonomy; FAO, 2015). The soil can be classified as a loamy soil
tants. The composting plant takes unsorted municipal solid waste, (52% sand, 32% silt and 16% clay), neutral, with low salinity, and
which is mechanically segregated and biologically treated. The high CEC (Table 1; LQARS, 2000). It can be considered as a soil with
compost produced is commercialized in bulk, mainly to be land very low topsoil organic matter content, a characteristic of this
applied in vineyards (Alvarenga et al., 2015). region (European Commission, 2012), with high levels of extracta-
The AWC was produced in a farm located in Serpa (Alentejo, ble P and K, and with a Ca/Mg ratio of 2.0, unfavourable to soil
Portugal), to be used in the organic amendment of their own land. physical characteristics (Table 1; LQARS, 2000). Regarding trace
The compost was produced from the wastes of the cleaning of olive elements (Table 1), the soil has high Ni and Cr concentrations, a
groves, and of the harvesting and processing of the olives, to pro- consequence of its geological nature, since the experimental site
duce olive oil, and from manure generated in the farm. The propor- is in the Beja Layered Gabbro Complex, reported by several authors
tions of the materials to be composted were: 61% sheep manure, as having anomalous metal concentrations (Jesus et al., 2003).
21% olive mill waste, 10% olive leaves, and 8% meat flour Because of that, Ni concentration in the soil is above the limit value
(Alvarenga et al., 2015). for application of sewage sludge (Decree-Law No. 276/2009), and
The organic wastes were selected because they are all poten- Ni and Cr concentrations surpass the limit values for application
tially beneficial to agricultural soils, with an organic matter (OM) of compost (Decree-Law No. 103/2015).
content above 30% (Table 1), with the logistics of transport and The organic wastes amendment doses were calculated to
application assured in advance. Moreover, they were previously deliver the same amount of organic matter (OM) per unit area of
fully characterized (Alvarenga et al., 2015) and have some ham- soil, when using the different organic waste amendments, taking
pered characteristic, which makes the assessment of the effects the SS as the reference. The lowest SS dose was chosen to reflect
of their application to soil interesting to be studied: SS was not the recommended agronomic dose in a previous Portuguese
properly sanitized, with pathogenic microorganisms content legislation (6 t SS dry matter ha1 yr1) and the other two doses
higher than the legal limits (Decree-Law No. 276/2009); MMSWC were chosen to fully explore the use of the wastes as soil amend-
presented Cd and Pb concentrations above the limit values for ments, while keeping OM increments in the soil within acceptable
some classes of compost, considering the recently published law agronomic levels: 12 and 24 t SS dry matter ha1. The amendment
for fertilizing materials in Portugal (Decree-Law No. 103/2015), doses of MMSWC and AWC were calculated, considering their OM
while AWC presented a Ni concentration also above legislated lim- content, to deliver the same amount of OM per unit area (4.5, 8.9
its, hampering its generalized use in agricultural soils (Table 1). and 17.9 t OM ha1 yr1), but were also named as treatments 6,

Table 1
Organic wastes and soil characterization (mean ± standard deviation, n = 3 for organic wastes, and n = 8 for soil), and the Portuguese legal limits for different classes of
contaminants in sewage sludge, compost and soil.

Parameter SS MMSWC AWC Soil Legal limits


Sewage Compostb Soil (pH > 7.0)
sludgea Class II/ Sludge legislationa/
Class IIA/ Compost legislationb
Class III
Agronomic parameters
pH (H2O) 7.12 ± 0.03 8.69 ± 0.03 8.18 ± 0.03 7.38 ± 0.25 – 5.5–9.0 –
EC (mS cm1) 2.70 ± 0.01 5.12 ± 0.02 3.00 ± 0.10 0.057 ± 0.012 – – –
OM (% w/w) 80.4 ± 0.1 41.4 ± 0.7 34.4 ± 1.8 0.9 ± 0.1 – >30 –
NKjeldahl (% w/w) 7.4 ± 0.9 1.9 ± 0.1 1.8 ± 0.1 0.05 ± 0.01 – – –
C/N 5.4 ± 0.6 9.9 ± 0.3 9.8 ± 0.4 – – – –
Ptotal (% w/w P2O5) 6.3 ± 0.0 3.3 ± 0.4 2.6 ± 0.3 – – – –
Ktotal (g K2O kg1) 9.8 ± 0.8 20.6 ± 2.2 24.1 ± 1.4 – – – –
Pextractable (mg P2O5 kg1) – – – 108.5 ± 18.4 – – –
Kextractable (mg K2O kg1) – – – 138.7 ± 23.8 – – –
CEC (meq 100 g1) – – – 39.6 ± 4.9
Natotal (g kg1) 2.6 ± 0.0 10.0 ± 1.5 6.1 ± 1.0 – – – –
Catotal (g kg1) 39.0 ± 0.5 82.1 ± 15.9 30.2 ± 5.5 45.8 ± 2.7 – – –
Mgtotal (g kg1) 5.3 ± 0.1 15.7 ± 1,8 34.4 ± 5.1 22.2 ± 1.7 – – –
Trace elements
Cd (mg kg1) 1.3 ± 0.0 3.2 ± 1.0 1.2 ± 0.0 2.0 ± 0.1 20 1.5/3.0/5.0 4 /1.5
Cr (mg kg1) <5.6 17.8 ± 6.1 140.9 ± 26.5 185.8 ± 14.3 1000 150/300/400 300/100
Cu (mg kg1) 235.1 ± 5.2 167.9 ± 4.6 44.6 ± 2.7 70.4 ± 2.9 1000 200/400/600 200 /100
Hg (mg kg1) <1.2 0.63 ± 0.12 <0.28 – 16 1.5/3.0/5.0 2/1
Ni (mg kg1) 18.4 ± 0.6 27.9 ± 1.7 553.3 ± 31.1 120.7 ± 15.1 300 100/200/300 110/70
Pb (mg kg1) <5.6 179.9 ± 11.0 21.0 ± 1.7 20.8 ± 2.5 750 150/300/500 450/100
Zn (mg kg1) 583.4 ± 24 383.3 ± 6.2 342.2 ± 15.0 30.0 ± 2.6 2500 500/1000/1500 450/200
Pathogens
Escherichia coli (CFU g1) 4.3  104 <1  10 <1  10 – <1000 <1000 –
Salmonella spp. (Present/Absent in 50 g) Present Absent Absent – Absent Absent (in 25 g) –

SS: sewage sludge; MMSWC: mixed municipal solid waste compost; AWC: agricultural wastes compost; EC: electrical conductivity: OM: organic matter; CEC: cation
exchange capacity.
a
Sewage sludge legislation (Decree-Law No. 276/2009).
b
Fertilizing materials legislation (Decree-Law No. 103/2015).

Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
4 P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx

12 and 24 t ha1. A treatment without organic waste amendment Foliar area was determined using the leaves from ten plants, and
(0 t ha1), which was intended to be sown, and a control, without calculating the mean value in cm2 plant1, using a LI-CORÒ
organic waste amendment and without plants, were considered. LI-3100 Area Meter apparatus.
In November 2013, five treatments (control, 0, 6, 12 and To assess plant nutritional status (N, P and K) and trace ele-
24 t ha1), with four replicates per treatment, were set up in exper- ments concentration (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn), plant fresh samples
imental plots with 5 m  2.5 m = 12.5 m2 area, separated by buffer were thoroughly washed with tap water to remove any attached
zones of 1 m between plots. The types and doses of organic wastes particles, and then rinsed three times with deionized water. The
were randomly assigned to the experimental plots to eliminate the samples were dried at 60–70 °C for 48 h, and ground in an electric
effects of other possible variables that may appear in the field. The mill. Dried samples were stored in polyethylene bags, in the dark,
total isolated area was ploughed (except the control plots) and, until analysis. Total nitrogen was analysed by the Kjeldahl method,
amended with the organic wastes immediately after. Seven days while a sub-sample of approximately 2 g of dried material was
after the organic wastes application, the plots were sown with ashed in a muffle furnace (450 °C, 6 h) and acid digested (two
Lolium multiflorum L. Soil and plant material were collected five times, to near dryness, with 10 mL 3 M HCl). After that, the residue
months later, in April 2014. was dissolved again with the same acid solution, filtered through a
All procedure was repeated in the following agronomic year, WhatmanÒ 40, and adjusted to a volume of 100 mL with ultra-pure
2014/2015, using the same exact plots for each treatment and water. Plant digested samples were analysed for total P, by molec-
the same application doses of OM delivered by each organic waste. ular absorption spectrometry, for K, by flame emission photometry,
The organic wastes had to be characterized in the second year, to and for Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn by atomic absorption spectrome-
adjust their application doses, but their characteristics were like try. All concentrations were reported in a dry weight basis.
those in the first year (data not shown). Accumulation factors (AF), i.e. the ratios of the trace element
concentration in the leaves to the total trace element concentra-
2.3. Soil analysis tion in the soil, were calculated.

The effects of the amendments in the soil physicochemical char-


2.5. Statistical treatment of data
acteristics were assessed by measuring different soil properties:
particle-size distribution was determined by the pipet method
All data was checked for homogeneity of variance and normal-
(Gee and Bauder, 1986); soil pH was determined in a soil to deion-
ity (Kolmogorov-Smirnov test) and, when possible, subjected to
ized water suspension of 1:2.5 (w/v) (Santos, 1996); electrical con-
one-way ANOVA to evaluate statistical differences between test
ductivity (EC) was determined in a soil to deionized water
treatments. Data not satisfying assumptions for ANOVA were anal-
suspension of 1:5 (w/v) (Santos, 1996); OM content was deter-
ysed non-parametrically using Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA by Ranks
mined according to Walkley and Black (1934); cation exchange
test. A post hoc Tukey Honest Significant Difference (HSD) test
capacity (CEC) was determined using the ammonium acetate (pH
was used, to further elucidate differences among means, whenever
7) method (Sumner and Miller, 1996); total nitrogen was analysed
significant differences were found (P 6 0.05).
by the Kjeldahl method; extractable P and K were determined
All statistical analysis was carried out with the software Statis-
using the Egner-Riehm method (Riehm, 1958); pseudo-total Ca,
tica 6.0 (StatSoft, Inc., 2001).
Mg and trace elements concentrations (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn)
were analysed by atomic absorption spectrometry, after digestion
of the samples with aqua regia (3:1 HCl + HNO3) according to ISO 3. Results and discussion
11466 (1995).
The effects of the amendments in the soil trace elements frac- 3.1. Effects of organic wastes application on soil physicochemical
tions were also assessed, using two different single step extrac- characteristics
tions: a mobile metal fraction, extracted by 0.01 M CaCl2, and a
mobilisable metal fraction, extracted by a solution of 0.5 M From the results in Table 2, it is possible to observe the benefi-
NH4CH3COO, 0.5 M CH3COOH and 0.02 M EDTA, pH 4.7 cial effect of the organic wastes application on some soil proper-
(Alvarenga et al., 2008). Extractions were performed on a 1:10 ties, but also some deleterious effects on others.
(w/v) soil to solution ratio, after 2 h horizontal reciprocate shaking, Considering the soil pH, only the SS application had a significant
at room temperature. The extract was separated from the solid effect on its value, inducing a decrease in the second year of the
residue by centrifugation at 3000g for 10 min. Trace elements study. That fact was a consequence of the lower SS pH value
concentrations in both extracts were also determined by atomic (Table 1), and of the fact that its organic matter is still in a very
absorption spectrometry. active stage of decomposition, a process that will proceed in the
All concentrations were reported in a dry weight basis. soil, releasing H+ ions (de Varennes, 2003). Lowering of the soil
pH, because of the sludge breakdown, has been previously
2.4. Plant analysis reported by other authors (Epstein et al., 1976; Sommers, 1977;
Singh and Agrawal, 2008).
Plant chlorophyll content was measured in the field, using a It is also due to the very active SS decomposition that it is pos-
SPAD-502 m from Minolta (Soil Plant Analysis Division), at the sible to explain why the SS application had a greater effect on soil
beginning of the stem elongation (Zadoks stage 31; Zadoks et al., secondary salinity augment than the composts, in the second year
1974). The SPAD meter is a hand-held device, commonly used for of the study (Table 2), even though the SS had a lower soluble salt
a rapid, accurate and non-destructive measurement of leaf chloro- content than both composts (Table 1). In fact, the continuous SS
phyll concentrations (Ling et al., 2011). mineralization, after its application, was obvious from the observa-
Plant aboveground material was collected at the same growth tion of the EC results in the soils, from the first to the second year
stage, using a square sampler of 50 cm  50 cm, to mark the area of the study. The composts application, MMSWC and AWC, also
to be sampled in each plot. Plant fresh biomass was determined had a significant impact on soil secondary salinity, contributing
using the whole plant material collected within the sampler area to a fourfold increase in the EC value for the high application dose
(g fresh plant material per 0.25 m2). In the lab, that result was con- (24 t ha1), which can be a constraint to the soil amendment with
verted to dry biomass by determining plant dry matter content. organic wastes. Roca-Pérez et al. (2009) have identified compost

Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate

Table 2
Effects of the amendments application on soil physicochemical characteristics (mean, n = 4). Values in a column marked with the same letter are not significantly different (Tukey HSD test, P > 0.05). Results are reported in a dry matter
basis.

Treatment pH(H2O) EC CEC OM NKjeldahl Pextractable Kextractable Catotal Mgtotal


(1:2.5) (mS cm1) (meq 100 g1) (% w/w) (% w/w) (mg P2O5 kg1) (mg K2O kg1) (g kg1) (g kg1)
1st year

P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx


Control 7.88 efgh 0.050 a 39.0 abc 0.78 a 0.064 a 114.7 a 113.8 a 21.5 a 11.9 ab
0 7.83 efgh 0.050 a 38.5 abc 0.94 ab 0.056 a 151.8 ab 130.2 a 22.0 a 11.9 ab
SS 6 7.78 efgh 0.066 a 38.0 abc 0.98 ab 0.056 a 219.9 abc 154.0 a 22.5 ab 11.8 ab
12 7.71 efg 0.053 a 38.4 abc 0.99 ab 0.080 a 256.5 abc 152.8 a 21.0 a 11.6 a
24 7.56 def 0.071 a 37.5 abc 1.18 abc 0.088 ab 514.7 abc 221.7 a 23.4 abcde 12.7 abcd
MMSWC 6 8.07 gh 0.059 a 38.4 abc 0.87 a 0.079 a 202.5 abc 171.8 a 23.2 abcde 12.0 ab
12 8.15 h 0.070 a 38.1 abc 0.90 a 0.078 a 400.3 abc 192.1 a 23.5 abcde 12.1 abc
24 8.13 gh 0.127 abc 35.8 ab 1.10 abc 0.097 ab 348.3 abc 295.0 ab 24.0 abcdef 12.1 abc
AWC 6 7.92 efgh 0.056 a 35.7 a 0.87 a 0.054 a 159.0 abc 175.4 a 22.3 ab 12.4 abcd
12 7.87 efgh 0.058 a 37.9 abc 1.03 abc 0.064 a 239.3 abc 321.0 ab 22.9 abc 12.0 abc
24 8.00 fgh 0.099 ab 38.5 abc 1.05 abc 0.093 ab 553.5 abc 373.2 ab 24.1 abcdef 13.1 abcde
2nd year
Control 7.50 de 0.056 a 42.5 c 0.90 a 0.053 a 187.3 abc 132.4 a 26.4 bcdef 13.2 abcde
0 7.17 cd 0.064 a 40.8 abc 0.91 a 0.054 a 204.6 abc 132.3 a 25.1 abcdef 13.0 abcde
SS 6 6.89 bc 0.142 abc 41.4 bc 1.28 abc 0.094 ab 329.0 abc 166.3 a 23.4 abcde 12.9 abcd
12 6.47 ab 0.307 de 41.6 c 1.68 c 0.158 bcd 641.0 abcd 189.6 a 23.0 abcd 13.1 abcde
24 6.08 a 0.423 e 38.3 abc 1.71 c 0.169 cde 699.4 cd 226.0 a 24.7 abcdef 12.9 abcd
MMSWC 6 7.61 def 0.125 abc 39.0 abc 1.36 abc 0.085 a 475.1 abc 246.2 a 27.2 efg 13.3 abcde
12 7.88 efgh 0.171 abc 39.6 abc 1.62 bc 0.119 abc 705.0 cd 363.2 ab 30.9 gh 13.6 bcde
24 7.86 efgh 0.239 cd 40.8 abc 2.48 d 0.205 de 1139.9 d 612.7 b 33.9 h 13.8 cde
AWC 6 7.76 efgh 0.107 ab 41.3 abc 1.12 abc 0.083 a 390.9 abc 385.8 ab 28.0 fg 13.9 de
12 7.80 efgh 0.132 abc 41.1 abc 1.32 abc 0.116 abc 663.2 bcd 576.0 b 27.1 defg 13.4 bcde
24 7.91 efgh 0.224 bcd 40.1 abc 2.51 d 0.232 e 1794.5 e 1601.8 c 26.7 cdef 14.8 e

SS: sewage sludge; MMSWC: mixed municipal solid waste compost; AWC: agricultural wastes compost; EC: electrical conductivity: OM: organic matter; CEC: cation exchange capacity.

5
6 P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx

Table 3
Effects of the amendments application on pseudo-total trace element concentrations obtained by the aqua regia digestion (mean, n = 4). Values in a column marked with the same
letter are not significantly different (Tukey HSD test, P > 0.05). Results are reported in a dry matter basis.

Treatment Cd (mg kg1) Cr (mg kg1) Cu (mg kg1) Ni (mg kg1) Pb (mg kg1) Zn (mg kg1)
1st year
Control 1.35 abc 211.4 a 64.6 abc 149.7 cde 33.5 ab 35.3 a
0 1.34 abc 203.4 a 66.5 abcd 149.0 cde 29.6 a 36.6 a
SS 6 1.31 abc 198.8 a 69.5 abcde 147.3 bcde 28.3 a 39.1 a
12 1.26 ab 195.7 a 70.8 bcde 144.3 abcde 26.9 a 35.4 a
24 1.21 a 185.9 a 71.3 cde 147.1 bcde 26.9 a 37.0 a
MMSWC 6 1.35 abc 195.0 a 64.8 abc 148.2 cde 34.8 ab 36.4 a
12 1.36 abc 190.4 a 67.1 abcd 149.3 cde 28.4 a 39.6 a
24 1.39 abcd 190.0 a 70.1 abcde 145.0 bcde 35.7 ab 43.8 a
AWC 6 1.35 abc 198.2 a 70.6 bcde 153.3 de 29.0 a 37.3 a
12 1.32 abc 194.9 a 66.8 abcd 154.2 de 28.2 a 38.7 a
24 1.34 abc 187.9 a 83.4 e 152.0 de 29.8 ab 44.0 a
2nd year
Control 1.63 d 202.8 a 61.4 abc 133.3 abcde 32.8 ab 35.8 a
0 1.54 cd 192.5 a 56.2 abc 125.2 abcd 30.6 ab 37.5 a
SS 6 1.54 cd 183.7 a 55.3 a 114.6 a 30.6 ab 37.0 a
12 1.43 abcd 183.4 a 57.6 abc 117.5 ab 28.6 a 45.7 a
24 1.49 bcd 186.1 a 59.3 abc 119.6 abc 31.8 ab 53.3 ab
MMSWC 6 1.46 abcd 185.3 a 55.9 ab 119.8 abc 32.1 ab 42.6 a
12 1.40 abcd 186.3 a 61.3 abc 121.8 abc 34.6 ab 51.8 ab
24 1.48 bcd 182.5 a 81.2 de 120.0 abc 41.3 b 65.5 bc
AWC 6 1.35 abc 191.8 a 64.4 abc 128.7 abcde 28.9 a 44.8 a
12 1.44 abcd 190.3 a 64.7 abc 129.7 abcde 28.3 a 51.4 ab
24 1.46 abcd 181.7 a 126.5 f 157.3 e 34.2 ab 76.9 c

SS: sewage sludge; MMSWC: mixed municipal solid waste compost; AWC: agricultural wastes compost.

salinity as the only limiting factor for the agronomic utilization of The observations that can be drawn for the effects on the other
compost prepared from rice straw and sewage sludge, at least for macronutrients content in the soil, extractable P and K, are similar
the doses 34 t ha1 for sandy soil and 11 t ha1 for clayey soil. to those discussed for N: the results of the second year of the study
However, other risks were identified from the application of accentuated the positive effects from the compost application
organic wastes as soil amendments: Tejada and Gonzalez (2006) when compared to the effects caused by the SS application
alerted for the fact that, composts with a higher level of Na+ can (Table 2). That was expectable for K, since both composts have
contribute to the increase of the exchangeable sodium percentage higher total K content than the SS (Table 1), a consequence of the
and reduce soil structural stability, potentiating soil erodibility. high solubility of K salts, contributing to its enrichment in the trea-
As for the organic wastes application on the soil OM and on ted wastewater. On the other hand, the opposite is true for total P,
NKjeldahl content, the effects were similar. In the first year, the which has higher concentrations in the sludges, approximately
application of the highest level of any of the organic improvers twofold higher than in both composts (Table 1). So, again, the
induced a significant increase in those soil parameters, similar explanation to this fact can be found in the higher degree of stabil-
for all the amendments. This was expectable, at least for the OM ity that the organic matter brought to the soil by the composts, in
content, since the application doses for all the amendments were opposition to the SS, which is still prone to an active mineralization
calculated to deliver the same amount of OM per treatment. How- process, underlining the importance of the application of a more
ever, in the second year of the study, the beneficial effects of the stable and mature organic matter (Bastida et al., 2008; Fernández
composts application were more evident than from the SS applica- et al., 2007, 2009).
tion (Table 2): the highest application dose of both composts Calcium and Mg concentrations in the soil were also only signif-
allowed a threefold increment in the soil OM content and a four- icantly affected in the second year of the study, and only from the
fold increment in the NKjeldahl content, versus a twofold increment application of the composts, with slight higher concentrations for
on the soil OM content and a threefold increment on the soil NKjel- Ca, following the application of MMSWC, and for Mg, following
dahl content from the application of SS. Therefore, it is possible to the AWC application. The only soil property which was not affected
assume that, the long term beneficial effects on soil properties by the treatments, at least in the experiment time scale, was soil
are more consistent when they result from the application of CEC, perhaps due to the high silt content of the soil, which over-
amendments with more stabilized organic matter, like the com- lapped the improvement brought by an augment in OM content.
posts. Fernández et al. (2007, 2009) in a three-year period study,
concluded that, the composted sewage sludge can be considered 3.2. Effects of organic wastes application on soil pseudo-total and
a much more efficient organic amendment than the thermally extractable trace elements concentrations
dried sewage sludge, which may present problems of maturity
and stability. Also, Bastida et al. (2008) evaluated the contrasting Considering the pseudo-total trace elements concentrations for
effects of materials with differing degrees of stabilization, conclud- Cd, Cr, Ni and Pb (Table 3), it is possible to say that the sludge/com-
ing that, composted sludge-amended soils, in comparison to sew- posts application did not contribute to a significant increase in
age sludge-amended soils, showed the highest carbon content. their concentrations in the soil, neither to an increase in their
Fernández et al. (2009) have also concluded that, when consid- extractability by 0.01 M CaCl2, i.e. their mobile fractions (Table 4).
ering barley yield, the results were better with a single application In fact, it is interesting to note that, despite the high pseudo-total
of composted sewage sludge, in comparison to its yearly applica- concentrations for Ni and Cr in the soil used for the experiment,
tion, a consequence of the deleterious effects over soil properties especially Ni, which surpass the allowed legal limit values for a soil
from the application of excessive doses. to receive sludge or compost amendment (Table 1), their mobility

Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx 7

Table 4
Effects of the amendments application on mobile trace elements concentrations, extracted by 0.01 M CaCl2 (mean, n = 4). Values in a column marked with the same letter are not
significantly different (Tukey HSD test, P > 0.05). Results are reported in a dry matter basis.

Trace elements (mg kg1)


Treatment Cd Cr Cu Ni Pb Zn
1st year
Control 0.096 abc <1.67 <0.167 0.370 a <1.67 <0.167
0 0.093 ab <1.67 <0.167 0.391 a <1.67 <0.167
SS 6 0.105 bcd <1.67 <0.167 0.421 a <1.67 <0.167
12 0.105 bcd <1.67 <0.167 0.434 a <1.67 <0.167
24 0.105 bcd <1.67 <0.167 0.498 a <1.67 <0.167
MMSWC 6 0.106 bcd <1.67 <0.167 0.429 a <1.67 <0.167
12 0.116 cde <1.67 <0.167 0.374 a <1.67 <0.167
24 0.111 bcd <1.67 <0.167 0.342 a <1.67 <0.167
AWC 6 0.109 bcd <1.67 <0.167 0.378 a <1.67 <0.167
12 0.109 bcd <1.67 <0.167 0.366 a <1.67 <0.167
24 0.119 de <1.67 <0.167 0.381 a <1.67 <0.167
2nd year
Control 0.108 bcd <1.67 <0.167 0.439 a <1.67 <0.167
0 0.134 ef <1.67 <0.167 0.581 ab <1.67 <0.167
SS 6 0.150 f <1.67 <0.167 0.569 ab <1.67 <0.167
12 0.153 f <1.67 <0.167 0.780 b <1.67 <0.167
24 0.154 f <1.67 0.194 a 1.094 c <1.67 <0.167
MMSWC 6 0.151 f <1.67 0.167 a 0.522 a <1.67 <0.167
12 0.151 f <1.67 0.170 a 0.534 ab <1.67 <0.167
24 0.150 f <1.67 0.184 a 0.484 a <1.67 <0.167
AWC 6 0.152 f <1.67 0.159 a 0.513 a <1.67 <0.167
12 0.083 a <1.67 0.173 a 0.521 a <1.67 <0.167
24 0.083 a <1.67 0.180 a 0.482 a <1.67 0.180

SS: sewage sludge; MMSWC: mixed municipal solid waste compost; AWC: agricultural wastes compost.

is very low, less than 1% of their pseudo-total concentrations, both soils, at least when food and forage production are intended
for Cr and for Ni (Tables 3 and 4). As stated before, these anoma- (Table 1), the repeated application of this compost did not con-
lous high levels for some metals in the soil, like Cr and Ni, have a tribute to an increase in their pseudo-total concentrations in soil.
geogenic explanation, a consequence of the geographical location The same observation is valid for Ni, as a consequence of the appli-
in the Beja Layered Gabbro Complex (Jesus et al., 2003), and not cation of AWC, which has a somewhat unusual concentration for
a consequence of some anthropic contamination. Ni, at least taking into consideration the materials used for its pro-
So, even though MMSWC had Cd and Pb concentrations which duction, which should not be contaminated with trace elements.
pose restrictions to their generalized application in agricultural However, taking a closer look at its Cr concentration (Table 1),

Table 5
Effects of the amendments application on mobilisable trace elements concentrations, extracted by a solution of 0.5 M NH4CH3COO, 0.5 M CH3COOH and 0.02 M EDTA, pH 4.7
(mean, n = 4). Values in a column marked with the same letter are not significantly different (Tukey HSD test, P > 0.05). Results are reported in a dry matter basis.

Treatment Cd (mg kg1) Cr (mg kg1) Cu (mg kg1) Ni (mg kg1) Pb (mg kg1) Zn (mg kg1)
1st year
Control 0.232 h < 1.67 5.21 ab 19.79 bc 10.61 abc 1.49 ab
0 0.210 gh < 1.67 5.40 ab 19.14 abc 6.32 a 1.25 ab
SS 6 0.211 gh < 1.67 5.93 abc 18.32 abc 7.83 ab 2.00 ab
12 0.197 fg < 1.67 6.14 abc 18.91 abc 7.34 ab 2.08 ab
24 0.177 def < 1.67 6.30 abcd 17.55 abc 6.11 a 4.27 abc
MMSWC 6 0.175 def < 1.67 6.20 abc 17.53 abc 16.18 c 2.38 abc
12 0.183 efg < 1.67 6.63 abcd 20.30 c 8.40 ab 2.97 abc
24 0.178 def < 1.67 6.75 abcd 16.55 abc 9.40 abc 4.34 abc
AWC 6 0.158 cde < 1.67 6.03 abc 19.52 bc 6.26 a 1.66 ab
12 0.141 c < 1.67 6.08 abc 19.15 abc 5.61 a 2.85 abc
24 0.131 bc < 1.67 5.96 abc 17.97 abc 7.20 ab 6.98 abc
2nd year
Control 0.108 ab < 1.67 4.24 a 16.32 abc 3.45 a 0.78 a
0 0.134 bc < 1.67 5.49 ab 17.89 abc 4.34 a 1.25 ab
SS 6 0.149 cd < 1.67 6.61 abcd 17.74 abc 6.37 a 3.62 abc
12 0.153 cde < 1.67 9.14 def 17.43 abc 5.09 a 11.35 abc
24 0.158 cde < 1.67 10.33 ef 16.88 abc 5.10 a 13.39 cd
MMSWC 6 0.151 cd < 1.67 6.78 abcd 15.79 abc 7.16 ab 6.74 abc
12 0.151 cd < 1.67 8.41 cdef 16.55 abc 9.10 abc 12.21 bc
24 0.154 cde < 1.67 10.42 f 14.24 ab 14.24 bc 24.17 de
AWC 6 0.159 cde < 1.67 6.14 abc 17.35 abc 4.37 a 4.91 abc
12 0.084 a < 1.67 7.12 bcd 16.65 abc 4.71 a 10.65 abc
24 0.084 a < 1.67 7.47 bcde 13.13 a 4.72 a 33.06 e

SS: sewage sludge; MMSWC: mixed municipal solid waste compost; AWC: agricultural wastes compost.

Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
8 P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx

which is not restrictive to its application to soil, but it is also high,


Effects of the amendments application on plant productivity parameters and some macronutrients concentrations in the aboveground material (mean, n = 4). Values in a column marked with the same letter are not significantly

abcde
abcde

abcde

abcde
when comparing with MMSWC and with the legal limits, we

abcd
bcde

bcde
cde
cde
abc

abc

abc
abc

abc
abc
de

ab
understand that this compost has high concentrations for the same

b
e

a
metals that have high concentrations in the soils of the farm where
(g kg1)

the compost is produced (Serpa, Baixo Alentejo). So, its contamina-


3.83
2.83
3.41

3.28
2.63

3.46
3.13

2.43

2.46

2.19
2.54
2.56
2.32
4.02
3.07

3.50

2.20

3.06
3.40

2.40
tion with Ni, and, to a less extent, with Cr, could be expected, since
Mg

the raw materials used for its production suffer contamination via
the soil, directly or indirectly. These results are corroborated by
Tella et al. (2013), who examined potentially toxic trace elements
abcd

abcd
abcd
abcd
abcd
abcd
abcd

abcd

abcd
abcd

abcd
abcd
abcd
bcd

bcd
abc
in different organic wastes. They have concluded that, whereas the
ab
dc

dc

a
trace elements concentrations were correlated with the size of the
cities or farms where the wastes have been produced, the presence
(g kg1)

of a particular element was correlated with the origin of the waste


7.34
5.49
6.12

6.98
6.33
6.42
6.22
6.96

5.66
6.79
7.17
6.62
6.27
5.46
6.87
6.96
7.10
7.05

7.08

6.09
Ca

and, in that case, the presence of Cr-Ni is associated with geogenic


contamination, like in AWC, Cd-Pb with anthropogenic urban con-
tamination, like in MMSWC, while Cu-Zn are ascribed to anthro-
abcd
abcd

abcd
abcd
abcd
abcd
abcd
abcd
bcd

bcd
abc

abc

pogenic agricultural and urban contamination, i.e. cross-cut to all


ab
cd
cd

cd
cd
d

a
a

types of organic wastes (Tella et al., 2013).


In fact, Cu and Zn presented a different behaviour (Table 3):
(g kg1)

their pseudo-total concentrations had a significant increase in


29.1
28.6
32.6

36.5
42.2
34.8
36.4
33.9

28.8
18.7

31.5

31.5
31.7
30.8

38.0

19.0
20.9

31.0
30.8
30.0

the second year of the experiment, following the application of


K

the higher rate of MMSWC and AWC (24 t ha1). However, in this
study, that increase did not considerably affect their mobile frac-
defgh

tion, extractable by 0.01 M CaCl2 (Table 4), which turned from


efgh

defg
cdef

cdef
fghi

bcd

bcd

bcd
bcd
cde
fgh

fgh

ghi

hij
ab
bc

undetectable concentrations, to concentrations above the detec-


ij

a
j

tion limit of the analytical technic, but, even so, the mobile concen-
(g kg1)

trations were still very low, below 0.5% of their pseudo-total


4.95

5.96

4.66
4.16
5.34
5.13
4.28

5.51
3.21
3.73

4.43
3.85

4.61

3.89
5.04

6.30
5.02

2.80

4.01
4.00

concentrations. Santos et al. (2010), have also found an increase


P

of the total contents for Zn and Cu, and also Pb, following the
long-term application of compost and sewage sludge. In their case,
the mobile fractions of Zn and Pb have also increased, particularly
bcd
cde

abc

de
ab

ab
ab
ab
ab
ab
ab

ab

ab
ab

ab
ab
ab

for compost application and mainly for Zn, which may be a conse-
e

a
f

quence of the longer time span of the experiment.


Antolín et al. (2005) concluded that, repeated application of rel-
N (%)

2.21
2.48

1.88

1.97
1.96
2.12

2.35
2.29
3.11
3.34
1.82
1.78
1.75
1.96
1.96
4.06

2.06
2.09

1.90
3.00

atively low application rates of sewage sludge (e.g. 15 t ha1), could


be used for several years to maintain crop production in
SS: sewage sludge; MMSWC: mixed municipal solid waste compost; AWC: agricultural wastes compost.

Mediterranean-type climates, but, have identified a significant


increase of grain heavy metal concentration, which is a constraint
abcde
bcde

abcd

abcd

abcd
cdef

cdef
abc

abc

to the long-term application of sludge to soil.


def

def

def
efg
ab

ab

ab

fg
g
g
a
(SPAD units)

Mobilisable Cd, Cr and Ni concentrations, i.e. extracted by a


Chlorophyll

solution of 0.5 M NH4CH3COO, 0.5 M CH3COOH and 0.02 M EDTA,


pH 4.7 (Table 5), did not increase because of the organic wastes
28.4
37.1

45.7
28.3

32.8
27.3
27.7

35.5
48.1
52.1
51.2
38.6
37.1

34.8

39.7
40.8

30.3

30.6

40.9

40.5

application, which is a very important result, since Cd concentra-


tion was a restriction for the MMSWC application, while Cr and
different (Tukey HSD test, P > 0.05). Results are reported in a dry matter basis.

Ni had high concentrations in AWC, and in the soil, as discussed


abc

abc

abc
abc

before. Nevertheless, Ni concentration in a mobilisable form in


de

de
ab
ab

ab
ab

ab

ab

ab
ab
ab
cd

bc
a

a
(cm2 plant1)

the soil was considerably high, although not affected by the


Foliar area

organic wastes application, ranging concentrations representing 8


to 19% of its pseudo-total concentrations. So, even though the
16.9
53.8
72.3

19.7
25.9
38.1
14.9

26.7

35.4
43.8
69.3
25.6
31.2

19.4
25.7
28.2
92.0

20.6

20.2

31.0

organic wastes application did not significantly affect Ni potential


bioavailability in the soil, a soil acidification or an increment in sol-
uble organic composts can possibly exploit its extractability.
cde
cde

def
ab

ab

ab

ab
cd

cd
bc

As for Cu and Zn, and following the trend evidenced by their


ef
a

a
a

a
a
f

pseudo-total concentrations discussed before, their mobilisable


Dry biomass

concentrations in the soil increased significantly in the second year


(t ha1)

113.55
133.42
152.41
102.31
104.08

of the experiment, following the application of the higher rates of


84.37

14.85
26.16

12.15
14.19
25.18

15.68

78.14
12.76
13.79
29.26
65.04

29.02
9.75

8.89

the organic wastes, SS, MMSWC and AWC (12 and 24 t ha1)
(Table 5).
The same was true for Pb but, in this case, only in the second
year for the 24 t ha1 application of MMSWC, which has restrictive
12
24

12
24

12
24

12
24

12
24

12
24
6

6
0

concentrations for this metal. From the results, it is possible to con-


sider that, if the studied organic wastes are to be used in a single
Treatment

growing season application, the rate can be as high as 12, or even


MMSWC

MMSWC
2nd year
1st year

24 t ha1, however, if they are to be applied in a yearly application


AWC

AWC
Table 6

scheme, the application rates should be lowered to assure their


SS

SS

safe application (e.g. to 6 t ha1). Otherwise, there is a risk of trace

Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx 9

Table 7
Effects of the amendments application on trace elements concentrations in the aboveground plant material (mean, n = 4). Values in a column marked with the same letter are not
significantly different (Tukey HSD test, P > 0.05). Results are reported in a dry matter basis.

Treatment Cd Cr Cu Ni Pb Zn Accumulation factors (AF)


(mg kg1) (mg kg1) (mg kg1) (mg kg1) (mg kg1) (mg kg1) AFCu AFNi AFZn
1st year
0 <0.42 <8.3 6.9 bc 7.8 abc <8.3 30 bcdef 0.1 cd 0.05 abc 0.82 cdefg
SS 6 <0.42 <8.3 8.7 cd 7.8 abc <8.3 30.8 bcdef 0.13 de 0.05 abc 0.79 cdefg
12 <0.42 <8.3 11.1 def 8.7 bcd <8.3 34.6 cdef 0.16 ef 0.06 abc 0.98 efg
24 <0.42 <8.3 13.2 f 11.8 d <8.3 39.3 ef 0.18 fg 0.08 bc 1.07 g
MMSWC 6 <0.42 <8.3 5.9 b 8.7 bcd <8.3 23.1 ab 0.09 bcd 0.06 abc 0.63 abcd
12 <0.42 <8.3 4.9 ab 8.1 abc <8.3 21.3 ab 0.07 abc 0.05 abc 0.54 abc
24 <0.42 <8.3 5.7 b 7.1 abc <8.3 24.1 abc 0.08 bcd 0.05 ab 0.56 abcd
AWC 6 <0.42 <8.3 5.8 b 9.3 bcd <8.3 25.1 abc 0.08 bcd 0.06 abc 0.66 abcde
12 <0.42 <8.3 5.1 ab 8 abc <8.3 25.7 abc 0.08 abcd 0.05 abc 0.66 abcde
24 <0.42 <8.3 5.4 ab 7.7 abc <8.3 24.8 abc 0.07 abc 0.05 ab 0.57 abcd
2nd year
0 <0.42 <8.3 3 a 4.5 a <8.3 16.7 a 0.05 ab 0.04 a 0.45 ab
SS 6 <0.42 <8.3 9.8 de 9.9 cd <8.3 37.2 def 0.18 fg 0.09 c 1.01 fg
12 <0.42 <8.3 11.1 def 16.1 e <8.3 40.3 f 0.19 fg 0.14 d 0.88 defg
24 <0.42 <8.3 12.3 ef 17.6 e <8.3 38.3 def 0.21 g 0.15 d 0.73 bcdef
MMSWC 6 <0.42 <8.3 5 ab 8.3 bcd <8.3 31.9 bcdef 0.09 bcd 0.07 abc 0.75 bcdefg
12 <0.42 <8.3 5.1 ab 8.2 abcd <8.3 32.2 bcdef 0.08 bcd 0.07 abc 0.63 abcd
24 <0.42 <8.3 5 ab 5.6 ab <8.3 31 bcdef 0.06 abc 0.05 ab 0.53 abc
AWC 6 <0.42 <8.3 4.9 ab 7.3 abc <8.3 27.7 abcd 0.08 abc 0.06 abc 0.62 abcd
12 <0.42 <8.3 5.1 ab 7.7 abc <8.3 28.7 bcde 0.08 abcd 0.06 abc 0.56 abcd
24 <0.42 <8.3 4.3 ab 6.7 abc <8.3 28.7 bcde 0.03 a 0.04 a 0.38 a
Maximum 10 100 40 100 100 500 Mean [Min.; Mean [Min.; Mean [Min.;
tolerable Max.] Max.] Max.]
levela 0.1 [0.03; 0.07 [0.04; 0.69 [0.38;
0.21] 0.15] 1.07]

SS: sewage sludge; MMSWC: mixed municipal solid waste compost; AWC: agricultural wastes compost.
a
Maximum tolerable level for cattle (National Research Council, 2005).

element accumulation in soils and their transference into the plant the plant: SS had a NKjeldahl content approximately four times
system. In the case of this study, the soil has a high clay content, higher than both composts (Table 1), with about 30% of the NKjeldahl
which augments CEC and, concomitantly, the risk of metal accu- content in a readily available form, N-NH+4 (Alvarenga et al., 2015),
mulation. Other authors (Cala et al., 2005), have also suggested which can have a very marked effect on plant productivity. That
restricted doses for the application of different organic wastes can also be observed from the foliar content of N, which was signif-
without endangering the human food chain: biowaste compost icantly higher following SS application, which was not the case
can be safely applied at a dose of 40 t ha1, while municipal solid when the composts were applied.
waste compost should be better applied at a dose of 20 t ha1, both As for the foliar content of P, K, Ca and Mg (Table 6), the effects
in a single dose application. In fact, depending on the feedstock, of the organic wastes application did not evidence a particular
certain organic wastes, like composts, are potentially more con- trend following the application of the organic wastes.
taminated with trace elements than others, and the recommended Cadmium, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn concentrations in the above-
limit doses can be different. For instance, Courtney and Mullen ground plant material were lower than their maximum tolerable
(2008), conducted a field experiment to evaluate the influence of levels for cattle (National Research Council, 2005), used as an indi-
two different agroindustrial composts on soil properties and barley cator of risk of entry of those metals into the human food chain
yield. Even though they have used high rates of application, 25, 50 (Table 7). In fact, Cd, Cr and Pb concentrations were below the
and 100 t ha1, neither compost raised soil Cu and Zn to levels of detection limit of the analytical technique used, which are far
concern, most certainly because the composts tested were pro- below those maximum tolerable levels. These results evidence
duced from materials with a very low trace element concentra- the low risk of the transference of those trace elements into the
tions, i.e. spent mushroom and agroindustrial sludges (Courtney human food chain when these organic wastes are applied as soil
and Mullen, 2008), and, on the contrary, their application con- amendments.
tributed to the increase of the organic status of the soil, nutrient Despite these overall results, it is interesting to note that the SS
content and plant yield. application to soil promoted a significant increase in the foliar con-
centrations of Cu, Ni and Zn, which did not happen in the compost
3.3. Effects of organic wastes application on plant production and applications, at least for Cu and Ni. This can possibly be explained
foliar trace elements concentrations by the lowering of soil pH, as a consequence of the SS application,
that can affect the availability of those trace elements, which was
The SS application had a beneficial effect on plant production not predicted by the chemical extractions performed (Tables 4 and
(Table 6), and on other plant productivity parameters, such as 5), or by the increase in the soluble organic compounds. A some-
chlorophyll and foliar area, more pronounced than in the case of what similar effect was found by Clemente et al. (2007), who
both MMSWC and AWC application, for the two years of the study. investigated the effects of the application of olive husk (pH 5.8)
For the composts, despite the increment in the plant productivity and cow manure (pH 8.8) on heavy metal availability in a contam-
parameters analysed, the effects were only significant in some inated soil. They found that the organic amendment with the lower
cases. The main reason for this difference in the plant productivity pH value favoured the solubility of metals in soils and their accu-
parameters could be the capacity of the SS to provide nitrogen to mulation in plants. However, other authors (Sánchez-Monedero

Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004
10 P. Alvarenga et al. / Waste Management xxx (2017) xxx–xxx

et al., 2004), found that the stabilization degree of four different the maximum allowable values for animal feed consumption,
composting mixtures, produced from sewage sludge and cotton which allows us to consider that the recycling of these organic
waste, did not affect the availability of Zn, Ni, Cu, Cr and Cd, while wastes to improve agricultural land quality, should be considered.
the stability degree has a very strong relationship with both size Concluding, if these organic wastes were to be used sporadi-
and activity of soil microbial biomass. However, in this 2-month cally, the rate could be as high as 12 or even 24 t ha1, however,
incubation experiment (Sánchez-Monedero et al., 2004), the pH if they are to be applied in a yearly scheme, the application rates
of the organic wastes used, irrespectively of the stage of their com- should be lowered to assure their safe application (e.g. to 6 t ha1).
posting process, were between 7.3 and 8.2, higher than the values Otherwise, there is a risk of trace element accumulation in soils
discussed before. and their transference into the plant system. Moreover, it is advis-
Accumulation factors (AF), the ratio of the trace elements con- able to use more stable and mature organic wastes, which have
centrations in the aboveground plant material to their concentra- longer lasting positive effects on soil characteristics.
tions in the soil, were calculated for Cu, Ni and Zn (Table 7).
Accumulation factors for Cu, Ni and Zn for L. multiflorum were gen- Acknowledgements
erally low, indicating a reduced risk of metal translocation into the
aboveground plant material. In fact, AF values for Cu and Ni were This study was supported by the project PTDC/AAC-
quite below 1, evidencing the low risk of their transference to AMB/119273/2010, from FCT-Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnolo-
the human food chain, while for Zn, with an AF closer to 1, indi- gia, co-financed by FEDER, through ‘‘Eixo I - Programa Operacional
cates a potential risk of Zn translocation if its concentration rises Fatores de Competitividade (POFC)” from QREN (COMPETE Refª:
in the soil, as a consequence of the organic wastes application. That FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-019330), and through the research unit
was, in fact, the case in the second year of the experiment, follow- UID/AGR/04129/2013 (LEAF).
ing the application of 24 t ha1 of both MMSWC and AWC The authors also acknowledge those who have generously sup-
(Table 3). plied materials for the study: Águas Públicas do Alentejo, S.A.,
AMARSUL, S.A., and Herdade da Risca Grande.

4. Conclusions
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Please cite this article in press as: Alvarenga, P., et al. Recycling organic wastes to agricultural land as a way to improve its quality: A field study to evaluate
benefits and risks. Waste Management (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.004