Sewage sludge organic fertilizer as a promoter of initial growth of Euterpe edulis Mart., an endangered palm

Document Type : Original Article


Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Araras - São Paulo, Brazil


Purpose The overharvesting of the endemic palm tree Euterpe edulis Mart. (Arecaceae) from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest hotspot and the destination given to the sludge produced from urban sewage treatment are both serious environmental issues caused by human activities. In order to find solutions or alternatives for both the issues, we aimed to investigate the effect of increasing rates of a sewage sludge organic fertilizer (SSOF), produced by composting sewage sludge and solid waste, on the initial growth of E. edulis.
Methods We mixed sand with 0, 62.5, 125, and 250 kg·m−3 of SSOF in 8 L (21 cm height × 24 cm top diameter × 20.5 cm base diameter) pots and then planted a seedling of E. edulis in each pot. We assessed the seedlings’ height and stem diameter relative growth rate (RGR), biomass, root to shoot ratio, and shoot macronutrient (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur) concentrations in relation to fertilizer levels. We also evaluated the relation between plant height and diameter over time for each fertilization level.
Results We found that height and stem diameter RGRs, biomass accumulation, and N and P shoot concentrations of E. edulis were positively related to SSOF levels between 120 and 250 kg·m3 in the substrate.
Conclusions Our study demonstrates that SSOF can be further used as an alternative to sewage sludge disposal and contribute to E. edulis cultivation, and, hence, its conservation.


Abreu AHM, Leles PSS, Alonso JM, Abel ELS, Oliveira RR (2017) Characterization of sewage sludge generated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and perspectives for agricultural recycling. Semina: Ciênc Agrár38(4): 2433-2448. http://
Afáz DCS, Bertolazi KB, Viani RAG, Souza CF (2017) Sewage sludge compost for initial cultivation of eucalyptus. Rev Ambient Água 12(1): 112-123.  
Alvarenga P, Mourinha C, Farto M, Santos T, Palma P, Sengo J, Morais MC, Cunha-Queda C (2015) Sewage sludge, compost and other representative organic wastes as agricultural soil amendments: Benefits versus limiting factors. Waste Manage 40: 44-52. /j.wasman.2015.01.027
Bai Y, Zang C, Gu M, Gu C, Shao H, Guan Y,Wang X, Zhou X, Shan Y, Feng K (2017) Sewage sludge as an initial fertility driver for rapid improvement of mudflat salt-soils. Sci Total Environ 578:47-55. 1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.083
Bedada W, Karltun E, Lemenih M, Motuma T (2014) Long-term addition of compost and NP fertilizer increases crop yield and improves soil quality in experiments on smallholder farms. Agric, Ecosyst Environ 195:193–201.
Benincasa MMP (2003) Análise de crescimento de plantas. FUNEP, Jaboticabal
Bertolazi KB, Afáz DCS, Viani RAG, Souza CF (2017) Application viability of sewage sludge compound in the initial eucalyptus cultivation. Rev CTA 4(1): 72-78.
Bertoncini EI, D’orazio V, Senesi N, Mattiazzo ME (2008) Effects of sewage sludge amendment on the properties of two Brazilian oxisols and their humic acids. Bioresour Technol 99(11): 4972-4979. biortech.2007.09.024
Bourioug M, Alaoui-Sehmer L, Laffray X, Benbrahim M, Aleya L, Alaoui-Sossé B (2015) Sewage sludge fertilization in larch seedlings: Effects on trace metal accumulation and growth performance. Ecol eng 77: 216-224.
Bovi MLA, Godoy Jr G, Saes LA (1987) Interspecific hybrids of heart of palm plants (Euterpe oleracea x Euterpe edulis). Bragantia 46(2): 343-363. 1590/S0006-87051987000200015  
Bovi MLA, Júnior GG, da Costa EAD, Berton RS, Spiering SH, Vega FVA, Cembranelli MAR, Maldonado CAB (2007) Sewage sludge doses and heart-of-palm yield in peach palm. Rev Bras Ciênc Solo 31(1): 153-166. http://
Brancalion PH, Vidal E, Lavorenti NA, Batista JLF, Rodrigues RR (2012) Soil-mediated effects on potential Euterpe edulis (Arecaceae) fruit and palm heart sustainable management in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Forest Ecol Manag 284: 78-85. 07.028
Campbell HW (2000) Sludge management – future issues and trends.Water Sci Technol41(8): 1–8. 2166/wst.2000.0135
Castro ER, Galetti M, Morellato LPC (2007) Reproductive phenology of Euterpe edulis (Arecaceae) along a gradient in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil. Aust J Bot55(7): 725–735.
Castro PRC, Kluge RA, Sestari I (2008) Manual de fisiologia vegetal: fisiologia de cultivos. Editora Agronômica Ceres, São Paulo
Černe M, Palčić I, Pasković I, Major N, Romić M, Filipović V, DianaIgrcM, PerčinA, BanSG, Zorko B, Vodenik B, Cindro DG, Milačič R, Heath DJ, Vodenik B (2019) The effect of stabilization on the utilization of municipal sewage sludge as a soil amendment. Waste Manage 94: 27-38.
Clark RB, Baligar VC (2000) Acidic and alkaline soil constraints on plant mineral nutrition. In: Wilkinson E. (ed) Plant-environment interactions, CRC Press, New York, pp 133-177
Fageria VD (2001) Nutrient interactions in crop plants. J Plant Nutr24(8): 1269-1290.
Gajalakshmi S, Abbasi SA (2008) Solid Waste Management by Composting: State of the Art. Crit Rev Env Sci Tec 38:311–400.
Galetti M, Chivers D (1995) Palm harvest threatens Brazil’s best protected area of Atlantic Forest. Oryx 29(4): 225–226
Galetti M, Aleixo A (2002) Effects of palm heart harvesting on avian frugivores in the Atlantic rain forest of Brazil. J Appl Ecol35(2): 286-293.
Garcia C, Hernandez T, Costa F, Ayuso M (1992) Evaluation of the maturity of municipal waste compost using simple chemical parameters. Commun Soil Sci Plan 23(13-14): 1501–1512.
Hamdi H, Hechmi S, Khelil MN, Zoghlami IR, Benzarti S, Mokni-Tlili S, Hassen A, Jedidi N (2019) Repetitive land application of urban sewage sludge: Effect of amendment rates and soil texture on fertility and degradation parameters. Catena 172: 11-20. catena.2018.08.015
Illenseer R, Paulilo MTS (2002) Growth and nutrient use efficiency in Euterpe edulis Mart. seedlings under two levels of irradiance, nitrogen and phosphorus. Acta Bot Bras 16(4): 385-394.
Jimenez I, Garcia P (1992) Determination of maturity indices for city refuse composts. Agr Ecosyst Environ 38(4):331–343.
Kacprzak M, Neczaj E, Fijałkowski K, Grobelak A, Grosser A, Worwag M, Rorata A, Brattebob H, Almåsc A, Singh BR (2017) Sewage sludge disposal strategies for sustainable development. Environ Res 156: 39–46. 1016/j.envres.2017.03.010
Kchaou R, Baccar R, Bouzid J, Rejeb S (2018) Agricultural use of sewage sludge under sub-humid Mediterranean conditions: Effect on growth, yield, and metal content of a forage plant. Arab J Geosci 11(26): 746. 1007/s12517-018-4103-4
Kelessidis A, Stasinakis AS (2012) Comparative study of the methods used for treatment and final disposal of sewage sludge in European countries. Waste Manage 32(6): 1186-1195.
Latare AM, Kumar O, Singh SK, Gupta A (2014) Direct and residual effect of sewage sludge on yield, heavy metals content and soil fertility under rice–wheat system. Ecol Eng69: 17-24. 03.066
Lima LSH, Franco ETH, Schumacher MV (2008) Crescimento de mudas de euterpe edulis martius em resposta a diferentes doses de fósforo. Ci Fl 18(4):461-470. https://
Mattos MDL, Mattos CCLV (1976) Euterpe edulis Mart (Palmae), a species for planting, cultivating and protecting. Brasil Florestal 7: 9-20
Melo WJ, Marques MO, Ferreira ME, de Melo GMP, de Melo, VP (2002) Chemical properties and enzyme activity in a sewage sludge-treated soil. Commun Soil Sci Plan33(9-10): 1643–1659.
Ministry of Agriculture (2014) Manual de métodos analíticos oficiais para fertilizantes minerais, orgânicos, organominerais e corretivos: Análise dos fertilizantes orgânicos e organominerais destinados à aplicação via solo. Available at: br/assuntos/laboratorios/arquivos-publicacoes-laboratorio/manual-_in-5_-analiticos-oficiais-para-fertilizantes-e-corretivos_com_capa_final_03.pdf (accessed 28 July 2019)
Motta SR, Maggiore T (2013) Evaluation of nitrogen management in maize cultivation grows on soil amended with sewage sludge and urea. Eur J Agron 45:59–67.
Muler AE, Rother DC, Brancalion PS, Naves RP, Rodrigues RR, Pizo MA (2014) Can overharvesting of a non-timber-forest-product change the regeneration dynamics of a tropical rainforest? The case study of Euterpe edulis. For Ecol Manag 324: 117-125. 1016/j.foreco.2013.09.001
Myers N, Mittermeier R, Mittermeier CG, Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858. 35002501
Neuburger M, Souza TV, Paulilo MTS (2010) Initial growth of seedlings of Euterpe edulis Mart. under different conditions of light, water and mineral nutrients. Rodriguésia 61(2): 157-165. /10.1590/2175-7860201061201
Nogueira Junior LR, Fisch STV, Ballestero SD (2003) Influência da umidade do solo no desenvolvimento inicial de plantas do palmiteiro Euterpe edulis Mart. em floresta nativa. Rev biocienc9(1): 7-13
Petersen SO, Henriksen K, Mortensen GK, Krogh PH, Brandt KK, Sorensen J, Madsen T, Petersen J, Grøn C (2003) Recycling of sewage sludge and household compost to arable land: Fate and effects of organic contaminants, and impact on soil fertility. Soil Tillage Res 72(2):139–152.
Raij B, Cantarella H, Quaggio JÁ, Furlani AMC (1997) Recomendações de adubação e calagem para o Estado de São Paulo. Instituto Agronômico, Campinas
Raij B, Andrade JC,  Cantarella e J. A. QuaggioH (2001) Análise química para avaliação da fertilidade de solos tropicais.Campinas, Brazil:Instituto Agronômico
Reis MS, Fantini AC, Nodari RO, Reis A, Guerra MP, Mantovani A (2000) Management and conservation of natural populations in atlantic rainforest: The case study of palm heart (Euterpe edulis Martius). Biotropica 32(4b): 894-902. 2000.tb00627.x
Ribeiro HM, Vasconcelos E, Cabral F, Ribeiro D (2009) Fertilization of Pinus pinea L. seedlings with a sewage sludge-based compost. Waste Manag Res 27(2): 112-118.
Schulz M, Borges GDSC, Gonzaga LV, Costa ACO, Fett R (2016) Juçara fruit (Euterpe edulis Mart.): Sustainable exploitation of a source of bioactive compounds. Food Res Int 89: 14-26. 2016.07.027
Silva FCS (2009) Manual de análises químicas de solos, plantas e fertilizantes. Embrapa Solos, Rio de Janeiro
Silva JZ, Reis MS (2018) Reproductive phenology and production of fruits in Euterpe edulis (Martius). Ci Fl 28(1): 295-309.  
Vega FVA, Bovi MLA, Berton RS, Godoy Jr G, Cembranelli AR (2004) Sewage sludge application on peach palm (Bactris gasipaes Kunth). Hortic Bras 22(1): 131-135.
Vega FVA, Bovi MLA, Godoy Jr G, Berton RS (2005) Sewage sludge doses and the root system of peach palm. Rev Bras Ciênc Solo 29(2): 259-268. 1590/S0100-06832005000200011
Wei Y, Liu Y (2005) Effects of sewage sludge compost application on crops and cropland in a 3-year field study. Chemosphere 59(9):1257–1265. j.chemosphere.2004.11.052
Yoshida H, ten Hoeve M, Christensen TH, Bruun S, Jensen LS, Scheutz C (2018) Life cycle assessment of sewage sludge management options including long-term impacts after land application. J Clean Prod 174: 538-547. https://