Aluminum phosphate sludge as a phosphorus source for maize production under low soil phosphorus availability

PeerJ. 2022 Aug 17;10:e13885. doi: 10.7717/peerj.13885. eCollection 2022.


BACKGROUND: With increasing food demand as a consequence of the growing world population, there is a corresponding demand for additional sources of phosphorus (P). Alum-phosphate (Al-P) sludge is a by-product of wastewater treatment and can be a good source of P. In this study, the response of maize (Zea mays L.) to Al-P sludge was tested. Maize was chosen as the test crop due to its prevalent use as human and animal food and as a source of biofuel. The objective of the study was to investigate Al-P sludge as a source of P compared to a commercial fertilizer (monoammonium phosphate, MAP).

METHODS: A growth chamber assay was conducted over four cropping cycles (45 d each). The application rate was 9.7, 19.4, 29.1 and 38.8 mg P kg-1 dry soil. Amendments were applied once at the start of the first cropping cycle. Plants were harvested after each cycle and pots were re-seeded. Dry matter yield (DMY), total P uptake, Al-P uptake, soil total P and Olsen-P concentrations, pH, and EC were measured.

RESULTS: DMY was significantly greater in pots amended with Al-P sludge than in pots treated with MAP. There was a significant rate × cropping cycle interaction effect on DMY with the differences among rates in cycle 1 different from those in cycle 4. Phosphorus uptake depended on cropping cycle, P source and P application rate. With sludge uptake higher than MAP in all cycles, the highest P uptake was observed at the highest application rate except for cycle 2 where this was observed at the rate of 29.1 mg kg-1. For MAP, phosphorus recovery efficiency (PRE) at the highest rate was significantly greater than that at the lowest rate whereas PRE in cycle 1 was significantly higher than that in cycle 4. In the first two cycles, aluminum uptake was negligible in both MAP and Al-P sludge treatments; however, in cycles 3 and 4, there was significantly more Al in maize from sludge amended pots. Our results show that Al-P sludge was as effective as MAP in supplying enough P for biomass yield. We, therefore, conclude that Al-P sludge could be an alternative source of P, especially for growing maize as feedstock for bioenergy.

PMID:35996671 | PMC:PMC9392449 | DOI:10.7717/peerj.13885


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