Carbon sequestration in a limestone quarry mine soil amended with sewage sludge

G. Ojeda, O. Ortiz, C. R. Medina, I. Perera, J. M. Alcañiz

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15 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 British Society of Soil Science. To reclaim a limestone quarry, 200 and 400 Mg/ha of municipal sewage sludge were mixed with an infertile calcareous substrate and spread as mine soil in 1992. Soil samples were taken 1 week later and again after 17 yr of mine soil rehabilitation so as to assess changes in the amount and persistence of soil organic carbon (SOC). Sludge application increased SOC as a function of the sludge rate at both sampling times. Seventeen years after the sludge amendments, the nonhydrolysable carbon was increased in the 400 Mg/ha of sludge treatment. The recalcitrance of SOC was less in sludge-amended soils than in the control treatment at the initial sampling, but 17 yr later this trend had reversed, showing qualitative changes in soil organic carbon. The CO<inf>2</inf>-C production had not differed between treatments, yet the percentage of mineralized SOC was less in the high sludge dose. When the size of active (C<inf>active</inf>) and slow (C<inf>slow</inf>) potentially mineralizable C pools was calculated by curve fitting of a double-exponential equation, the proportion of C<inf>active</inf> was observed to be smaller in the 400 Mg/ha sludge treatment. Soil aggregate stability, represented by the mean weight diameter of water-stable soil aggregates, was significantly greater in mine soil treated with the high dose of sludge (18.5%) and SOC tended to be concentrated in macro-aggregates (5-2 mm). Results suggest that SOC content in sludge-amended plots was preserved due by (i) replacement of the labile organic carbon of sludge by more stable compounds and (ii) protection of SOC in aggregates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-278
JournalSoil Use and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Carbon sequestration
  • Organic carbon pools
  • Sewage sludge
  • Soil aggregate stability
  • Soil rehabilitation


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