The thermochemical transformation of sewage sludge (SS) to biochar (SSB) allows exploring the advantages of SS and reduces possible environmental risks associated with its use. Recent studies have shown that SSB is nutrient-rich and may replace mineral fertilizers. However, there are still some questions to be answered about the residual effect of SSB on soil nutrient availability. In addition, most of the previous studies were conducted in pots or soil incubations. Therefore, the residual effect of SSB on soil properties in field conditions remains unclear. This study shows the results of nutrient availability and uptake as well as maize yield the third cropping of a three-year consecutive corn cropping system. The following treatments were compared: (1) control: without mineral fertilizer and biochar; (2) NPK: with mineral fertilizer; (3) SSB300: with biochar produced at 300◦C; (4) SSB300+NPK; (5) SSB500: with biochar produced at 500◦C; and (6) SSB500+NPK. The results show that SSB has one-year residual effects on soil nutrient availability and nutrient uptake by maize, especially phosphorus. Available soil P contents in plots that received SSB were around five times higher than the control and the NPK treatments. Pyrolysis temperature influenced the SSB residual effect on corn yield. One year after suspending the SSB application, SSB300 increased corn yield at the same level as the application of NPK. SSB300 stood out and promoted higher grain yield in the residual period (8524 kg ha−1 ) than SSB500 (6886 kg ha−1 ). Regardless of pyrolysis temperature, biochar boosted the mineral fertilizer effect resulting in higher grain yield than the exclusive application of NPK. Additional long-term studies should be focused on SSB as a slow-release phosphate fertilizer.
- Wastewater treatment