A soil column study was conducted to assess the movement of Zn in sewage-sludge-amended soils. Varables investigated were soil properties, irrigation water quality, and soil moisture level. Bulk samples of the surface layer of six soil series were packed into columns, 10.2 cm in diameter and 110 cm in length. An anaerobically digested municipal sewage sludge was incorporated into the top 20 cm of each column at a rate of 300 mg ha-1. The columns were maintained at moisture levels of saturation and unsaturation and were leached with two waters of different quality. At the termination of leaching, the columns were cut open and the soil was sectioned and analyzed. Zinc movement was evaluated by mass balance accounting and correlation and regression analysis. Zinc movement in the unsaturated columns ranged from 3 to 30 cm, with a mean of 10 cm. The difference in irrigation water quality did not have an effect on Zn movement. Most of the Zn applied to the unsaturated columns remained in the sludge-amended soil layer (96.1 to 99.6%, with a mean of 98.1%). The major portion of Zn leached from the sludge-amended soil layer accumulated in the 0- to 3-cm depth (35.7 to 100%, with a mean of 73.6%). The mean final soil pH values decreased in the order: saturated columns = sludge-amended soil layer > untreated soils > unsaturated columns. Total Zn leached from the sludge-amended soil layer was correlated negatively at P = 0.001 with final pH (r = -0.85). Depth of Zn movement was correlated negatively at P = 0.001 with final pH (r = -0.91). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the final pH accounted for 72% of the variation in the total amounts of Zn leached from the sludge-amended soil layer of the unsaturated columns and accounted for 82% of the variation in the depth of Zn movement among the unsaturated columns. A significant correlation was not found between Zn and organic carbon in soil solutions, but a negative correlation significant at P = 0.001 was found between pH and Zn (r = -0.61).
Additional publication details
Zinc movement in sewage-sludge-treated soils as influenced by soil properties, irrigation water quality, and soil moisture level