Three sludge types from the same treatment stream (undigested liquid, anaerobically digested liquid and dewatered, anaerobically digested cake) were used in a field based tub study. Amendments (4, 8, and 16 Mg dry solid (ds) ha(-1)) were incorporated into the upper 15 cm of a sandy loam soil prior to sowing with rye-grass (Lolium perenne L.). Nitrogen transformations in the soil were determined for the 80 d period following incorporation. Nitrogen uptake and crop yield were measured in the cut sward 35 and 70 d after sowing. The study showed that application of sewage sludge at rates as low as 4 Mg ha(-1) can have a nutritional benefit to rye-grass over the two harvests. Differences in N transformation, and hence crop nutritional benefit, between sludge types were evident throughout the experiment. In particular, the dewatering process changed the mineral N characteristics of the anaerobically digested sludge, which, when not dewatered, outperformed the other sludges in terms of yield and mineralisation rate at both harvests. The dewatered sludge produced the lowest yield of rye-grass. The undigested liquid sludge had the lowest foliar N and soil NO3-N concentrations, possibly immobilised as the large oxidisable C component of this sludge was metabolised by the microbial biomass. Correlation data support the concept of preferential uptake of NH4-N over NO3-N in Lolium perenne. Results are discussed in the context of managing sludge type and application for a plant nutrient source and NO3-N release. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.