Biological Activity in a Degraded Alfisol Amended with Sewage Sludge and Cropped with Yellow Serradela (Ornithopus compressus L.)

José Celis H.1*, Angela Machuca H.2, Marco Sandoval E.3, and Patricia Morales C.3

There are few studies about the impact of sewage sludge on the biological properties in Alfisols of the Chilean Coastal Range drylands. Hence, the objective of this study was to evaluate its effect on the microbial respiration and enzymatic activities of a degraded Alfisol located in the Bío Bío Region (Chile) that was cropped with yellow serradela (Ornithopus compressus L.). Sludge was added to the soil at rates of 15, 30, and 60 t ha-1; he following treatments were defined: L15-P = 15 t ha-1 sludge + O. compressusL30-P = 30 t ha-1 sludge + O. compressus L60-P = 60 t ha-1 sludge + O. compressus; L15 = 15 t ha-1 sludge; L30 = 30 t ha-1 sludge; L60 = 60 t ha-1 sludge; CP = non-amended soil, cropped; and C = non-amended soil, no crop. Soil microorganism activity was evaluated by respirometry. Hydrolytic enzyme activity representative of soil C, N, and P cycles was determined. Crop phytomass development was also evaluated. The amount of C-CO2 produced by soil microorganisms was directly proportional to the dose of amended sludge (p ≤ 0.05). Similarly, greater β-glucosidase, urease, and acid phosphatase were more active at 60 t sludge ha-1. However, both respiratory and enzymatic activities were greater (p ≤ 0.05) in treatments with sludge-amended soil cropped with O. compressus. This greater activity was notorious when the legumes achieved greater phytomass development, thus highlighting the root’s stimulating effect on soil biological activity.

Keywords: biosolids, respiration, enzymatic activity, degraded soils, remediation.
1Universidad de Concepción, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Casilla 537, Chillán, Chile. *Corresponding author (jcelis@udec.cl).
2Universidad de Concepción, Departamento Forestal, Casilla 341, Los Ángeles, Chile.
3Universidad de Concepción, Facultad de Agronomía, Casilla 537, Chillán, Chile.