Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Better Together

Electronic data

  • JEQ_2019_03_0147_TR_Final

    Rights statement: Copyright © 2019. . © 2019 The Author(s). Re-use requires permission from the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 276 KB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Better Together: Water Treatment Residual and Poor-Quality Compost Improves Sandy Soil Fertility.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Cathy E Clarke
  • Wendy Stone
  • Ailsa G Hardie
  • John Quinton
  • Lynsay I. Blake
  • Karen L Johnson
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>17/10/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)1781-1788
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Water treatment residual (WTR) is an underused clean water industry byproduct, generally disposed to landfill. This study assesses the benefits and risks of ferric-WTR as a soil amendment or co-amendment for plant growth in a nutrient-poor sandy soil. A 12-wk pot trial tested the efficacy of WTR and a locally available, low-quality, municipal compost as single (1, 5, and 12.5% dry mass) and co-amended treatments (1:1 WTR/compost ratio, at 2, 10, and 25%) on wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) growth in a sandy soil. The low total N content of the compost and low WTR P and K contents resulted in significantly lower (up to 50% lower, p < 0.05) plant biomass in single amendments compared with the control, whereas the highest co-amendment produced significantly higher plant biomass (33% higher, p < 0.05) than the control. This positive co-amendment effect on plant growth is attributed to balanced nutrient provision, with P and K from the compost and N from the WTR. Foliar micronutrient and Al levels showed no toxic accumulation, and co-amended foliar Mn levels increased from near deficient (20 mg kg−1) to sufficient (50 mg kg−1). Total WTR metals were well below maximum land application concentrations (USDA). Trace element bioavailability remained the same (Ni, Cu, and Hg) or significantly decreased (B, Al, Cr, Mn, Fe, Zn, As, and Cd; p < 0.05) during the pot trial. These results suggest, within this context, that a WTR–compost co-amendment is a promising soil improvement technology for increasing crop yields in sandy soils.

Bibliographic note

Copyright © 2019. . © 2019 The Author(s). Re-use requires permission from the publisher.