Concentration of Cu, Zn, Cr, Ni, Cd, and Pb in soil, sugarcane leaf and juice: residual effect of sewage sludge and organic compost application

  • Sarah Mello Leite Moretti
  • Edna Ivani Bertoncini
  • André César Vitti
  • Luís Reynaldo Ferracciú Alleoni
  • Cassio Hamilton Abreu-Junior


Many researchers have evaluated the effects of successive applications of sewage sludge (SS) on soil plant-systems, but most have not taken into account the residual effect of organic matter remaining from prior applications. Furthermore, few studies have been carried out to compare the effects of the agricultural use of SS and sewage sludge compost (SSC). Therefore, we evaluated the residual effect of SS and SSC on the heavy metal concentrations in soil and in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) leaves and juice. The field experiment was established after the second harvesting of unburned sugarcane, when the organic materials were applied. The SS and SSC rates were (t ha−1, dry base): 0, 12.5, 25, and 50; and 0, 21, 42, and 84, respectively. All element concentrations in the soil were below the standards established by São Paulo State environmental legislation. SS promoted small increases in Zn concentrations in soil and Cu concentrations in leaves. However, all heavy metals concentrations in the leaves were lower than the limits established for toxic elements and were in accordance with the limits established for micronutrients. There were reductions in the concentrations of Ni and Cu in soil and the concentration of Pb in juice, with increasing rates of SSC. The heavy metal concentrations were very low in the juice. Under humid tropical conditions and with short-term use, SS and SSC containing low heavy metal concentrations did not have negative effects on plants and soil.


Sanitary sludge Composting Soil contamination Heavy metals 



This research was funded by the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPQ), process n° 575025/2008-5. A master’s scholarship was funded by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES). Logistical support in the composting process was supplied by the sewage treatment station (SABESP), located in the city of Franca, São Paulo, Brazil. Technical support in chemical analyses was given by Felipe Carlos Alvarez-Villanueva, and Henriqueta Maria Gimenes Fernandes.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Mello Leite Moretti
    • 1
  • Edna Ivani Bertoncini
    • 2
  • André César Vitti
    • 2
  • Luís Reynaldo Ferracciú Alleoni
    • 3
  • Cassio Hamilton Abreu-Junior
    • 1
  1. 1.University of São Paulo (USP), Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA)PiracicabaBrazil
  2. 2.São Paulo’s Agency for Agribusiness Technology (APTA)Secretariat of Agriculture and Food Supply of São Paulo StatePiracicabaBrazil
  3. 3.University of São Paulo (USP), College of Agriculture Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ)PiracicabaBrazil

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