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Mato Grosso do Sul State in Brazil is characterized by the ‘Cerrado’ ecoregion, which is the most biologically rich Savannah globally. In agricultural terms, the region produces several commodities that are exported around the world. This level of productivity has been achieved through the large-scale use of synthetic fertilizers, which has created several economic and environmental concerns. New approaches in soil fertility management are required to avoid environmental degradation, pollution, and socio-environmental damages. A field experiment, lasting two years, was conducted to investigate the composted sewage sludge (CSS) effects on an infertile acidic soil (Oxisol) planted to maize (Zea mays L.). The following complete randomized complete block design with a 4 × 2 + 2 factorial scheme (four replications) was applied: four CSS increasing rates (from 5.0 to 12.5 Mg ha−1, w.b.) following two application methods (whole area and between crop rows). A control, without CSS or synthetic fertilizers, and conventional synthetic fertilization without CSS were also investigated. Evaluated parameters were: (i) soil and leaf micronutrient concentrations; (ii) maize development, yield, and production. The CSS application increased: (i) the concentration of micronutrients in both soil and leaves; and (ii) the crop yield. Both were particularly true at the higher CSS applied rates. Such organic fertilizer can be safely used as a source of micronutrients for crops as an important low-cost and environmentally friendly alternative to mineral fertilizers, thus safeguarding soil health.


Published in Land by MDPI. Available via doi: 10.3390/land11081246.

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