Co-cropping for phyto-separation of zinc and potassium from sewage sludge

Qi Tang Wu, Liang Hei, Jonathan W C WONG*, Christophe Schwartz, Jean Louis Morel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer and soil amendment has resulted in high concentrations of heavy metals in the soil limiting its use. The present study was carried out to find the possibility of phyto-separating toxic and beneficial elements from the sludge using suitable plants. Of the five plants tested the hyperaccumulator Sedum alfredii H achieved the greatest removal of Zn, while shoots of Alocasia marorrhiza accumulated high content of K. Co-cropping these two plants on the sludge verified the previous observations on A. marorrhiza and the shoots of this plant could accumulate more than 120 g K kg-1 dry matter in the median growth stage. Zn hyperaccumulated in Sedum's shoots to an extent more than 10 g kg-1 dry matter; K concentrated five to ten times in the Alocasia's shoots which could be used as a good organic-K-fertilizer. Hence, the two elements were simultaneously phytoseparated and could be recycled. Furthermore, cultivation of plants in the sludge resulted in significant decreases in total Zn but kept the favorable agronomic characteristics of the sludge material, such as pH, organic matter content, and NPK concentrations and ameliorated its biological stability. These results suggest that simultaneous phyto-separation of toxic and beneficial elements from sewage sludge are possible by co-cropping using specific plants without the input of any chemicals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1954-1960
Number of pages7
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Biosolids
  • Co-cropping
  • Heavy metals
  • Hyperaccumulators
  • Phyto-separation
  • Potassium


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