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Research article2004Peer reviewedOpen access

Modeling organic carbon dynamics and cadmium fate in long-term sludge-amended soil

Bergkvist P, Jarvis N


A model is described that may help to resolve uncertainty and controversy over the long-term consequences of sludge applications to arable land, especially with regard to the effects of sludge adsorption characteristics on trace metal solubility and bioavailability (e.g., the sludge "time bomb" or sludge "protection" hypotheses). Mass balances of organic and inorganic material derived from sludge and crop residues are simulated. Each pool has a potentially different adsorption affinity for trace metals, and this leads to changes in the adsorption capacity of sludge-amended soil that influence leaching and crop uptake. Model simulations were compared with measured changes in organic carbon and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)-extractable cadmium contents in a clay loam soil following 41 years of sludge applications. The model adequately reproduced the data, although discrepancies in the vertical distribution of Cd were attributed to the effects of macropore transport and root-uptake driven recirculation. A Monte Carlo sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the most important parameters affecting leaching and crop uptake were the Cd loading and parameters controlling adsorption, especially the partition coefficient for sludge-derived inorganic material and the exponent regulating the effect of pH on sorption. Scenario simulations show that no general conclusions can be drawn with respect to the validity of the sludge "time bomb" and sludge "protection" hypotheses. Either may occur, or neither, depending on three key system parameters: the ratio of sludge adsorption capacity to the initial adsorption capacity of the soil, the proportion of the sludge adsorption capacity contributed by the inorganic fraction, and the sludge Cd loading

Published in

Journal of Environmental Quality
2004, Volume: 33, number: 1, pages: 181-191

      SLU Authors

    • Bergkvist, Petra

      • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Jarvis, Nicholas

        • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Agricultural Science

      Publication identifier


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