Palm Oil Mill Effluent Effect on soil fertility: a longitudinal assessment of Zea mays plant


  • Samuel Chibuike Ubani Department of Biochemistry, Industrial Biochemistry and Biotechnology unit, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
  • Onwuneme Chukwudi Department of Biochemistry, Industrial Biochemistry and Biotechnology unit, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
  • Victor Eshu Okpashi Department of Biochemistry, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • Chigoziri Akudo Osuji Department of Biochemistry, Industrial Biochemistry and Biotechnology unit, University of Nigeria,
  • Nwadike, G.E.M Ugochukwu Department of Biochemistry, Industrial Biochemistry and Biotechnology unit, University of Nigeria, Nsukka



maize (Zea mays), POME, soil enzymes, soil pollution and soil fertility


Background: This research evaluate the growth of maize (Zea mays) on palm oil mill effluent (POME) contaminated soil. The physiochemical properties and heavy metal loads of the soil samples and POME were determined. The growth rates of Zea mays was evaluated on shoot length, leaf length, root length, chlorophyll content, germination time, germination percentage and biomass.

Materials and Methods: The palm oil mill effluent were mixed with the contaminated soil, the un-mixed soil was used as control. Soil dehydrogenase and phosphatase activities were assayed in contaminated and un-contaminated soil using standard methods. The plants were irrigated by serially diluting POME samples.  

Results: The K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, cation exchange capacity and phosphorus content of the POME contaminated soil were significantly (P< 0.05) lower than the control. There was no significant P > 0.05 difference in the C, N, Na+ and organic content of the soil samples. The heavy metals in the POME showed Zn, Cu, Ni and Fe, but Pb, Cd and Cr were absent. POME contaminated soil and the control showed Pb, Zn, Ni and Fe, while Cd and Cr were not detected. The activities of dehydrogenase (0.13±0.57) and phosphatase activity (0.38±0.22) in POME contaminated soil decreased significantly p ≤ 0.05 compared to the dehydrogenase (0.76±0.11) and phosphatase activity (1.35±0.36) in control soil.

Conclusion: POME is a potent pollutant that inhibits the growth of Zea may.


Abulude, F. O. Obidiran, G. O. and Orungbemi, S. (2007). Determination of physico- chemical parameter and Trace metal contents of drinking water samples in Akure Nigeria. Electronic Journal of Environmental, Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 6 (8): 2297- 2303.

Adeyeye, E.I. and Ayejuyo, O. O. (2002). Assessment of the physicochemical status of a textile industry’s effluent and its environment. Pakistan Journal of Scientific Industrial and Research, 45:10-16.

Alef, K. (1995). Dehydrogenase activity. In: Alef K and Nannipieri P (eds.), Methods in Applied Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry. Academic Press Inc., San Diego, USA. pp. 228-230.

AOAC (2005). Official methods of analysis of Association of Official Analytical Chemists, (18th edn.). Washington, D.C. Pp A1106-A1113.

Borja, R., Banks, C.J. and Sanchez, E. (1996). Anaerobic treatment of palm oil mill effluent in a two-stage up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) system. Journal of Biotechnology, 45: 125- 135.

Bouyoucous, G. (1951). A recalibration of the hydrometer for making mechanical analysis of soil. Agronomy Journal, 43: 434-438.

Bremner, J.M. and Mulvaney, G.S. (1982). Nitrogen total. In: Page-Millar, R.H. and Keeny, D.R.(Eds.). Methods of Soil Analysis. American Society of Agronomy No. 9 Madison, WI. Pp 595-624.

Brezing, D. (1986). African palm by-products in primary processing plants: treatment of effluents In: Mesa Redonda latinoamericana sobre Palma Aceitera, Valledupar, Colombia 8-12 junio 1986, ORLAC FAO, p 151-160.

Chapman, H.D. (1965). Cation- exchange capacity. In: Black, C.A. (ed.). Methods of Soil Analysis- Chemical and Microbiological Properties. Agronomy, 9: 891-901.

Chavalparit, O. (2006). Clean technology for the crude palm oil industry in Thailand. Ph.D. Thesis, Wageningen University, pp 237.

Cheah, R. (2003). Colour Removal from Industrial Effluent, A Review of Available Technologies, Chemical Engineering World, 32: 6-12.

Corley, R.H.V. and Tinker,P.B.(2003). The oil palm. Blackwell Science Ltd., Oxford, 4th edition. (Monograph of growth, botany and use of oil palm).

Deng, S.P. and Tabatabai, M.A. (1995). Cellulase activity of soils: Effect of trace elements. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 27 (7): 977-979.

Din, M.D., M.F. et al., (2006). Storage of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) in fed-batch mixed culture using palm oil mill effluent (POME). In: 4th Seminar on Water Management (JSPS-VCC), Johor; pp. 119-127.

Ehirim, N.C and Odii, M.A.C.A.(2004) . Economics of Palm Oil Marketing in Owerri, Imo State, Nigerian Journal of Technology. 9: 71-81.

FAO (2005). Fruits and vegetables for health. Report of Joint FAO/WHO Workshop. Kobe, Japan, September 1-3, 2005, pp: 39.

Ogboghodo, I. A., I. O. Osemewota, S. O. Eke and Iribhogbe, A. E. (2001). Effects of Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) grating mill effluent on textural, chemical and biological properties of surrounding soil. World Journal of Biotechnology. 2: 292- 301.

Hartley, C. W. S. (2004). Environmental Impact of Oil Palm Plantations in Malaysia. Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia (PORIM) Occasional Paper. 33: 1-27.

Izawa, S. (1977). Photosynthesis. (Eds: A. Trebest and H. Avron). Springer Verlag, Berlin, 256-286.

Kitikum, A.H, Prasertsan, P., Srisuwan, G. and Krause, A. (2000). Environmental Management for palm oil mill material flow analysis of integrated biosystems p.11.

Leiros, M.C., Trasar – Cepeda, C., Garcia – Fernandez, F. and Gil – Sotre, S.F.(1999). Defining the validity of a biochemical index of soil quality. Biology and Fertility of Soils. 30 :140- 143.

Li, H., Zhang, Y., Zhang, C.G. and Chen, G. X. (2005). Effects of Petroleum-contaminating waste water irrigation on bacterial diversity and enzymatic activities in a paddy soil irrigation area. Journal of Environmental Quality, 34: 1073-1080.

Madaki, Y.S, and Seng ,L. (2013). Palm Oil Mill Effluent (Pome) from Malaysia Palm Oil Mills: Waste or Resource. International Journal of Science, Environment and Technology, 2(6) :1138 – 1155.

Nelson, D.W. and Sommers, L.E.(1982).Total carbon, organic carbon and organic matter. In Page, A.L. (Ed). Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 2. 2nd Edn. American Society of Agronomy Publication, Madison, Wisconsin. pp 539-579.

Nies, D.H. (1999). Microbial heavy metal resistance. Molecular biology and utilization biotechnological processes. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 51 (6):730-750.

Nwaugo, V. O., Chinyere, G. C. and Inyang, C. U. (2008). Effects of palm oil mill effluents (POME) on soil bacterial flora and enzyme activities in Egbama. Plant Product Research Journal, 12: 10 – 13.

Nwoko, C.O.,Onoh, C.P., and Ogunyemi, S. (2012). Plant nutrient recovery following Palm Oil Mill Effluent Soil amendment in a maize (Zea mays) grown screen house experiment. International Journal Of Agriculture and Rural Development, 15 (2): 1109 – 1118.

Obahiagbon, F.I. (2012). "A Review: Aspects of the African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineesis Jacq.)" American Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: 1-14.

Scarponi, L. and Perucci, P. (1984). Effect of some metals and related metal organic compounds on ALA dehydratease activity of corn. Plant and Science, 79: 69-75.

Sinsabaugh, R.L., Antibus, R.K. and Linkins, A.E. (1991). An enzymic approach to the analysis of microbial activity during plant litter decomposition. Agriculture Ecosystem Environment , 34:43–54.

Verla, A.W., Adowei, P And Verla, E.N.(2014). Physicochemical And Microbiological Characteristic Of Palm Oil Mill Effluent (Pome) In Nguru : Aboh Mbaise, Eastern Nigeria. Acta Chimica and Pharmaceutica Indica: 4 (3):119-125.

Wellburn, A. R. (1994). The special determination of chlorophylls a and b as well as total carotenoids using various solvents with spectrophotometers of different resolution. Journal of Plant Physiology, 144: 307-313.

Walkey, A. and Black, I.(1934). An examination of Degt Jareff method for determining soil organic matter and a proposed modification of the chromic acid titration method.Soil Science, 37: 29-38.

Wood, B.J., Pillia, K.R. and Rajaratnam, J.A. (1979). Palm oil mill effluent disposal on land. Agricultural Wastes, 1: 103-127.




How to Cite

Ubani, S. C., Chukwudi, O., Okpashi, V. E., Osuji, C. A., & Ugochukwu, N. G. (2017). Palm Oil Mill Effluent Effect on soil fertility: a longitudinal assessment of Zea mays plant. EQA - International Journal of Environmental Quality, 23(1), 43–53.