How sludge can be used as Sustainable fertilizer?
Maintaining the tilth, fertility, and productivity of agricultural soil requires regular additions of organic resources such as animal manures, crop leftovers, and municipal wastes.
Sludge from sewage treatment plants is one of the most common organic wastes that can be utilized as organic fertiliser. It is a sewage treatment plant by-product that emerges from the removal of particles and organic debris from sewage (municipal as well as industrial waste water).
For disposal, sewage sludge is further treated by digestion, thickening, denaturing, and drying. Incineration, dumping in rivers/oceans, and landfilling have all been used in the past to dispose of sewage sludge. These approaches, however, are expensive and pollute the environment. Because sewage sludge is a good source of organic matter and plant nutrients, the ideal approach is to use it is as an organic fertiliser in agriculture, as it contains many vital plant nutrients such as N, P, K, and Zn, as well as Cu, Fe, Mn, and other trace elements. As a result, using sludge for crop production on the land is a viable and cost-effective disposal option.
Sustainable re-use of essential and finite phosphorus resources
For all living things, phosphorus is an essential nutrient. It significantly damages human health when inadequate in the diet, and it limits agricultural output when deficient in agriculture. There can be no food production without phosphorus.
Because phosphorus comes from non-renewable phosphate rocks, greater recycling is critical to ensure phosphorus security. To ensure the ability to feed a growing global population, efficient utilisation and reduced environmental spread of phosphorus across the food chain is required.
As sewage sludge's phosphorus concentration has increased as a result of technological advancements, it is now a widely available alternative to commercial fertilisers in agriculture.Various studies employed a phosphorus radiotracer approach to determine the availability of phosphorus for plants in thermally conditioned sewage sludge to assess its efficiency.
Total phosphorus uptake from thermally conditioned sewage sludge is lower than from commercial fertilisers. This could be explained by the fact that phosphorus in commercial water-soluble fertilisers is instantly available for plant uptake after application, whereas phosphorus in thermally conditioned sewage sludge is present in a less readily available form. Furthermore, the other nutrients in the sludge encourage microbial activity, resulting in phosphorus uptake competition between microbes and plant roots.
In comparison to commercial fertilisers, sewage sludge is found to have a higher agronomic effectiveness. Although it increases microbial biomass and hence phosphorus immobilisation, the phosphorus absorbed by this microbial biomass can be made available to the plants again in the long term. Furthermore, sewage sludge is a non-limited, always available, and long-term fertiliser source."
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