We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Waste to resource: use of water treatment residual for increased maize productivity and micronutrient content

Gwandu, T. and Blake, L. I. and Nezomba, H. and Rurinda, J. and Chivasa, S. and Mtambanengwe, F. and Johnson, K. L. (2021) 'Waste to resource: use of water treatment residual for increased maize productivity and micronutrient content.', Environmental Geochemistry and Health .


Soil degradation, which is linked to poor nutrient management, remains a major constraint to sustained crop production in smallholder urban agriculture (UA) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). While organic nutrient resources are often used in UA to complement mineral fertilizers in soil fertility management, they are usually scarce and of poor quality to provide optimum nutrients for crop uptake. Alternative soil nutrient management options are required. This study, therefore, evaluates the short-term benefits of applying an aluminium-based water treatment residual (Al-WTR), in combination with compost and inorganic P fertilizer, on soil chemical properties, and maize (Zea mays L.) productivity and nutrient uptake. An eight-week greenhouse experiment was established with 12 treatments consisting of soil, Al-WTR and compost (with or without P fertilizer). The co-amendment (10% Al-WTR + 10% compost) produced maize shoot biomass of 3.92 ± 0.16 g at 5 weeks after emergence, significantly (p < 0.05) out-yielding the unamended control which yielded 1.33 ± 0.17 g. The addition of P fertilizer to the co-amendment further increased maize shoot yield by about twofold (7.23 ± 0.07 g). The co-amendment (10% Al-WTR + 10% C) with P increased maize uptake of zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and manganese (Mn), compared with 10% C + P. Overall, the results demonstrate that combining Al-WTR, compost and P fertilizer increases maize productivity and micronutrient uptake in comparison with single amendments of compost and fertilizer. The enhanced micronutrient uptake can potentially improve maize grain quality, and subsequently human nutrition for the urban population of SSA, partly addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number 3 of improving diets.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
Download PDF (Advance online version)
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date accepted:10 September 2021
Date deposited:28 September 2021
Date of first online publication:27 September 2021
Date first made open access:28 September 2021

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar