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Nitrogen availability from a mature urban compost determined by the 15N isotope dilution method

AuthorsIglesias Jiménez, Emeterio CSIC
MSW (municipal solid waste) compost
Organic matter reuse
Maturity degree
Biological stabilisation
Fertilizer value of compost
Compost-N availability
Soil fertility
Plant nutrition
Compost Science
Soil Science
Issue Date2001
CitationSoil Biol. Biochem., 33 (2001), 409-412
AbstractLand application of city refuse compost (CRC), produced from aerobic-thermophilic composting of the organic fraction of municipal solid wastes, is an attractive alternative for the disposal of these wastes, currently land-filled or incinerated. Knowledge of the availability of N in compost is particularly important, given the current concern about groundwater contamination by NO3--N. In this work we assessed the capacity of a CRC with a high degree of maturity to supply N to a barley crop over 2 months in a controlled-phytotron experiment. The CRC was applied at a rate equivalent to 60 t ha-1, after incubation of the material (fraction < 2mm) for 3 months at 24 ºC (40-45 % moisture). The soil (Eutric Cambisol) was labelled with 15N as (15NH4)2SO4 with 9.614 atom % 15N excess. Available-N from CRC dilutes the isotopic 15N/14N ratio of the labelled soil in an important way; atom % 15N excess in the plant material (aerial part) after 2 months was approximately 50% in the compost treatment with respect to the non-amended soil (0.625 and 1.201 atom % 15N excess, respectively). Accordingly, CRC should not be considered as a poor-release N material when it has a high degree of maturity, i.e. it is highly biologically stabilised and "humified". On the contrary, a high N-fertiliser value to crops can be attained if a very high maturity degree is reached in commercial composting plants. This type of compost may be defined as a "postmature compost", a slow-release N material and a rich N material to plants at the same time. For this reason, the concept "postmature compost" is of great interest from an agronomic point of view and opens a wide portal for investigation of the agronomic reuse of composted organic materials.
DescriptionFinal full-text version (definitively accepted version) of the paper published by Elsevier Sci. Ltd.
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