Utilization of Sewage Sludge Compost in Horticulture

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  • 1 Professor, Department of Horticulture, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-5611.

Sewage sludge is being converted to compost by many municipalities. Its use in the production, establishment, and/or maintenance of horticultural crops is dependent on soluble salt concentration, particle size, stability, dewatering procedures, storage conditions, and crop needs. Soluble salt concentration has the greatest effect on the amount of compost that can be used as a soil or potting media amendment. Because composted sewage sludge is rich in plant nutrients, it can supply many of the nutrient needs of plants, depending on the amount used and if the plants are growing in the ground or in containers. However, improper storage of composted sewage sludge can render the product useless due to the accumulation of acetic acid and alcohol that occur under anaerobic conditions.

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