Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), being a rich source of organic materials, can be used for agricultural applications as an important source of nutrients for soil and plants. This is also an alternative beneficial management practice for MSW generated in developing countries. In the present study, MSW treated soil samples from last four to six years at farmer’s field in Rohtak and Gurgaon states (Haryana, India) were collected. The samples were analyzed for all-important agricultural parameters and compared with the control untreated soil samples. The treated soil at farmer’s field showed increase in total N by 48 to 68%, P by 45.7 to 51.3%, and K by 60 to 67% compared to untreated soil samples. Application of sewage sludge at different sites led to increase in microbial biomass C by 60 to 68% compared to untreated soil. There was significant increase in total Cu, Cr, Ni, Fe, Pb, and Zn in all sewage sludge amended soil samples; however, concentration of all the metals were still below the current permitted (EU) limits. To study the adverse effect of heavy metals accumulation on various soil microbial activities, the sewage sludge samples (from wastewater treatment plant at Gurgaon) were artificially contaminated with heavy metal concentration above the EU limits. They were then applied to soil samples with different rates (0.5 to 4.0%) and incubated for 90 days under laboratory conditions. The samples were drawn at different intervals and analyzed for various parameters like pH, EC, total N, P, K, microbial biomass C, carbon mineralization, and diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) exactable heavy metals. The results were compared to the uncontaminated sewage sludge. The increasing level of sewage sludge from 0.5 to 4% led to build of organic C and total N, P and K content at the early stages of incubation. But, organic C was decreased after 90 days because of decomposition of organic matter. Biomass production was significantly increased in both contaminated and uncontaminated sewage soil samples, but also led to slight increases in metal accumulation and their bioavailability in soil. The maximum metal concentrations were found in treatment with 4% of contaminated sewage sludge amendment.
The efficiency of heavy metals removal from sewage sludge in bioleaching processes with heterotrophic, chemoautotrophic (sulphur-oxidizing) sludge cenoses and chemical leaching (in distilled water, weakly acidic or alkaline medium) was compared. The efficacy of heavy metals removal from sewage sludge varies from 83 % (Zn) up to 14 % (Cr) and follows the order: Zn > Mn > Cu > Ni > Co > Pb > Cr. The advantages of metals bioleaching process at heterotrophic metabolism were shown. A new process for bioconversation of sewage sludge into fertilizer at middle temperatures after partial heavy metals removal was developed. This process is based on enhancing vital ability of heterotrophic microorganisms by adding easily metabolized nutrients and synthesis of metabolites by growing sludge cenoses. These metabolites possess the properties of heavy metals extractants and flocculants which provide the enhancement of sludge flocks sedimentation. The process results in biomineral fertilizer of prolonged action with immobilized sludge bioelements. The fertilizer satisfies the EU limits for the sewage sludge of agricultural utilization. High efficiency of the biomineral fertilizer obtained has been demonstrated in vegetation experiments.