One concern about sewage sludge disposal on soils is related to the contamination of groundwater caused by the nitrate leaching due to sludge mineralization, which demands more research on the subject. The leaching of nitrate due to land disposal of sewage sludge was evaluated in an experiment using a Typic Hapludox cultivated with sugarcane. The results showed an increase in the nitrate level of soil solution at the 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 m soil depths, as a result of sludge disposal. In the sludge treatments, there was an increase in soil organic N at the soil surface and also an increase of the NNO3- and NNH4+ levels at the 0.9 - 1.2 m soil depth. The sewage sludge disposal on soil can pose a threat to groundwater contamination due to nitrate leaching, when levels of application are higher than 33 Mg ha-1. N content in the sludge has to be considered in calculations of rates and frequencies of sludge application to soils.
sewage sludge; leaching; nitrate; contamination