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  • 1 Dept. of Hort., 203 Tyson Bldg., The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802

A long term study was initiated in 1993 to evaluate the effect of composted sewage sludge on growth, yield, and quality of different vegetables. The composted sewage sludge consisting of 40% hardwood sawdust and 60% clean municipal wastewater sludge was obtained from the University Area Joint Authority (UAJA) in State College, PA. The composted sewage sludge is currently sold by UAJA as a fertilizer amendment under the name CornposT. Two rates of the ComposT product (11 and 22 dry T/A) were compared to a granular fertilizer application of 800 lbs/A of 10-10-10. The low rate of ComposT also received half of the fertilizer rate. After incorporation of the amendments into a Hagerstown clay loam soil, lettuce, tomato, muskmelon, cabbage and pepper were transplanted in the field in a Randomized Block Design with 3 replications. ComposT application did not reduce yield or quality of cabbage, lettuce tomato,and muskmelon; in fact, yields were generally higher with the application of composted sewage sludge. The application of ComposT did not reduce the macro or micro nutrient concentration of leaf tissue below optimum levels nor did it result in any phytotoxic effects in plant growth. In addition, the application of ComposT did not increase the heavy metal (Cd, Ni, Pb) concentration in leaf tissue or increase the risk of microbial contamination in the edible portion of the vegetables.

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