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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2016, Vol. 15 Issue (06): 1395-1406    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61154-6
Soil & Fertilization﹒Irrigation﹒Plant Nutrition﹒ Agro-Ecology & Environment Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Comparative short-term effects of sewage sludge and its biochar on soil properties, maize growth and uptake of nutrients on a tropical clay soil in Zimbabwe
Willis Gwenzi1, Moreblessing Muzava1, Farai Mapanda1, Tonny P Tauro2
1 Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
2 Marondera College of Agricultural Science and Technology, University of Zimbabwe, Marondera, Zimbabwe
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Abstract  Soil application of biochar from sewage could potentially enhance carbon sequestration and close urban nutrient balances. In sub-Saharan Africa, comparative studies investigating plant growth effect and nutrients uptake on tropical soils amended with sewage sludge and its biochar are very limited. A pot experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of sewage sludge and its biochar on soil chemical properties, maize nutrient and heavy metal uptake, growth and biomass partitioning on a tropical clayey soil. The study compared three organic amendments; sewage sludge (SS), sludge biochar (SB) and their combination (SS+SB) to the unamended control and inorganic fertilizers. Organic amendments were applied at a rate of 15 t ha–1 for SS and SB, and 7.5 t ha–1 each for SS and SB. Maize growth, biomass production and nutrient uptake were significantly improved in biochar and sewage sludge amendments compared to the unamended control. Comparable results were observed with F, SS and SS+SB on maize growth at 49 d of sowing. Maize growth for SB, SS, SS+SB and F increased by 42, 53, 47, and 49%, respectively compared to the unamended control. Total biomass for SB, SS, SS+SB, and F increased by 270, 428, 329, and 429%, respectively compared with the unamended control. Biochar amendments reduced Pb, Cu and Zn uptakes by about 22% compared with sludge alone treatment in maize plants. However, there is need for future research based on the current pot experiment to determine whether the same results can be produced under field conditions.
Keywords:  maize growth        nutrient uptake        sludge biochar        soil chemical properties  
Received: 21 May 2015   Accepted:

The authors are grateful to the Swedish International Foundation for Science (IFS) (C-5266-1) awarded to Willis Gwenzi for funding the research.

Corresponding Authors:  Willis Gwenzi, Mobile: +263-771585936, Tel: +263-4-303211, Fax: +263-4-307034, E-mail:    

Cite this article: 

Willis Gwenzi, Moreblessing Muzava, Farai Mapanda, Tonny P Tauro. 2016. Comparative short-term effects of sewage sludge and its biochar on soil properties, maize growth and uptake of nutrients on a tropical clay soil in Zimbabwe. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 15(06): 1395-1406.

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