Effects of Amended Sewage Sludge Application on Yield and Heavy Metal Uptake of Barley: A Case Study of Ahvaz Sewage Treatment Plant

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Professor of Soil Science, College of Agric., Shahid Chamran University

2 MSc Graduate, College of Agric., Shahid Chamran University


One aspect of sewage sludge application as an organic fertilizer on agricultural farms is environmental pollution concerns such as heavy metals uptake by plants. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of amended sewage sludge application on yield and heavy metal uptake of Barley. This study was carried out over a period of barley growth with two treatments of sewage sludge (50 and 100 ton/ha) and control treatment with four replicates arranged in a randomized complete block design. Plant samples were taken at three intervals (50, 90, and 180 days after sowing). The samples were prepared for measuring nutrients and heavy metals in stem, leaf, straw, and grain. Results of plant analysis showed that application of sewage sludge increased nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and cadmium in vegetative parts compared to control. Grain analysis showed that application of sewage sludge significantly increased nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, iron, and zinc. Grass yield significantly increased in the plot treated with 100 ton/ha sewage sludge. Grain yield in the two treatments significantly increased. The results revealed that the sewage sludge increased heavy metals uptake by plants but still below standard levels. It is, therefore, necessary to use the quantities of the elements introduced into soil and absorbed by plants in order to determine the toxicity level for each metal taking into account factors such as plant and soil types as well as environmental conditions. This information can then be used to determine sludge application quantities in each case. Meanwhile, sludge application may only be recommended for irrigated crops receiving adequate irrigation water due to its salinity. Moreover, it cannot be recommended for irrigated crops directly consumed by man.


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