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Research article2003Peer reviewed

Use of papermill wastes on agricultural soils - is this a way to reduce nitrate leaching?

Kirchmann, Holger; Bergström, Lars


The term paper-mill waste is used for different products: de-inked fiber sludge, primary fiber sludge, secondary sludge and mixtures. The aim of this study was to find out if any of these materials can be safely used on agricultural soils to induce net N immobilization of N, and thereby decrease nitrate (NO3) leaching. Chemical characterization showed that secondary sludge derived from biological waste water treatment was a nutrient-rich material low in fiber content, whereas primary and de-inked fiber sludge were high in fiber content and low in nutrient content. Cellulose-C and hemi-cellulose-C amounted to 46% and 36% of the organic C present, respectively, and C/N ratios were around 130 in primary and de-inked fiber sludge. Incubation studies at 8degreesC over 2 months showed that the decomposability of primary and de-inked fiber sludge in soil was not significantly different. Both showed lower decomposability than secondary sludge. Concentrations of inorganic N in soil declined to very low levels after application of primary and de-inked fiber sludge and their capacity for net N immobilization was 4.8 - 7.2 kg N t(-1) C added at 5degreesC. However, contents of Cu, Cd and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in de-inked fiber sludge limit its use on arable land. Only primary fiber sludge was found to be suitable as a introgen catch fiber material for use on agricultural soils.


de-inked fiber; primary fiber; secondary fiber; fiber sludge; N immobilization

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Soil & Plant Science
2003, Volume: 53, number: 2, pages: 56-63

      SLU Authors

    • Kirchmann, Holger

      • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Bergström, Lars

        • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Agricultural Science

      Publication identifier


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