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A review on impact of compost on soil properties, water use and crop productivity

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The review summarizes the literature and the current knowledge on the effect of compost fertilization on the soil plant system. Most of investigators confirmed that compost application could improve the physical, chemical and biological characteristics, soil organic matter, and nutrient status of the soils. All long-term compost application trials result in increased SOM concentrations. However, mature composts increase SOM much better than fresh and immature composts due to their higher level of stable carbon. In addition, due to its multiple positive effects on the physical, chemical and biological soil properties, compost contributes to the stabilization and increase of crop productivity and crop quality. Consequently, most investigators proved that compost has an equalizing effect of annual/seasonal fluctuations regarding water, air and heat balance of soils, the availability of plant nutrients and thus the final crop yields. Predominantly because of the slow release of nutrients and its availability in compost-combined fertilization schemes often show good results. Thus, for sustainable agricultural systems within small-scale farming in developing countries like Ethiopia, composting can be a good option for developing effective plant-nutrient management strategies in many situations.
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Full Length Research
A review on impact of compost on soil properties, water
use and crop productivity
Getinet Adugna
Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research; Werer Research Center P.O Box 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Mobile: +251
911 39 11 24 Email: getinet03@gmail.com
Accepted 25 April 2016
The review summarizes the literature and the current knowledge on the effect of compost fertilization
on the soil plant system. Most of investigators confirmed that compost application could improve the
physical, chemical and biological characteristics, soil organic matter, and nutrient status of the soils.
All long-term compost application trials result in increased SOM concentrations. However, mature
composts increase SOM much better than fresh and immature composts due to their higher level of
stable carbon. In addition, due to its multiple positive effects on the physical, chemical and biological
soil properties, compost contributes to the stabilization and increase of crop productivity and crop
quality. Consequently, most investigators proved that compost has an equalizing effect of
annual/seasonal fluctuations regarding water, air and heat balance of soils, the availability of plant
nutrients and thus the final crop yields. Predominantly because of the slow release of nutrients and its
availability in compost-combined fertilization schemes often show good results. Thus, for sustainable
agricultural systems within small-scale farming in developing countries like Ethiopia, composting can
be a good option for developing effective plant-nutrient management strategies in many situations.
Key words: Crop productivity, matured compost, soil organic matter, plant nutrients, soil physical property, soil
chemical property, soil biological property
INTRODUCTION
Compost use is one of the most important factors, which
contribute to increased productivity and sustainable
agriculture. In addition, compost can solve the problem
faced on farmers with decreasing fertility of their soil. Due
to soil fertility problems, crops returns often decrease and
the crops are more susceptible to pest and disease
because they are in bad condition (Madeleine et al.,
2005).
Compost consists of the relatively stable decomposed
organic materials resulting from the accelerated biological
degradation of organic materials under controlled,
aerobic conditions (Paulin and Peter, 2008). Compost
fertilizer is made from plant and animals remains with the
objectives of recycling plant and animals remains for crop
production. The decomposition process converts
potentially toxic or putrescible organic matter into a
stabilized state that can improve soil for plant growth.
Composted organics has other beneficial effects,
including diverting landfills wastes to alternative uses,
removal of pathogen inocula or weed seeds and
decomposition of petroleum, herbicide or pesticide
residues, erosion control and as a nutrient source for
sustainable re- vegetation of degraded soils. Using
compost can improve the capacity to produce safe clean
Academic Research Journal of
Agricultural Science and
Research
Vol. 4(3), pp. 93-104, March 2016
DOI: 10.14662/ARJASR2016.010
Copy©right 2016
Author(s) retain the copyright of this article
ISSN: 2360-7874
http://www.academicresearchjournals.org/ARJASR/Index.htm
94 Acad. Res. J. Agri. Sci. Res.
green horticultural produce and importantly increase the
potential for large-scale organic food production (Paulin
and Peter, 2008).
The presence of organic matter in the soil is
fundamental in maintaining the soil fertility and
decreasing nutrient losses. Thus, compost is a good
organic fertilizer because it contains nutrients as well as
organic matter. Organic matter has number of important
roles to play in soils, both in their physical structure and
as a medium for biological activity. In addition, organic
matter makes its greatest contribution to soil productivity.
It provides nutrients to the soil, improves its water holding
capacity, and helps the soil to maintain good tilth and
thereby better aeration for germinating seeds and plant
root development (Edwards and Hailu, 2011).
Moreover, soil fertility is associated with mineralization
of nutrients contained in organic matter and their release
in plant- available form to the soil solution. Mineralization
is the result of normal biological cycles within the soil and
can be stimulated by the addition of appropriate quality
compost and cultivation (Paulin and Peter, 2008).
Because mineralization occurs over extended periods it
can make important contribution to plant growth and to
minimizing the impact of leaching associated with rainfall
and excess irrigation (Paulin and Peter, 2008). On the
other hand, adding artificial fertilizer alone is not sufficient
to retain a sufficient level of soil fertility. Organic matter is
needed to retain the water and nutrient. In degraded soil,
where there is little organic matter, yields response is
limited, even if artificial fertilizer are being used
(Madeleine et al., 2005). Hence, the farmers need to take
care of the organic matter content of the soil. An
integrated approach, combing application of compost with
an application of artificial fertilizer is a good strategy for
sustainable crop production (Gete et al., 2010).
In Ethiopia soil erosion and declining of fertility is a
serious problem to agricultural productivity and economic
growth (Gete et al., 2010). Average soil removal all over
the country was estimated to be about two billion tons per
year (CSA, 2001). Hence, to sustain the balance of soil
fertility and reduce soil erosion, and to ensure agricultural
productivity adoption of composting technology and
application of amenable compost is quite essential.
Therefore, the objective of this paper is to review the
significance of compost preparation and use, and its
effect on soil properties, water use and crop productivity.
Effects of Compost on Soil Properties
Soil organic matter
Organic additions to soil have long been considered
important in maintaining the quality of both natural and
managed soils, principally because of their role in
providing nutrients and through their role in influencing
soil physical properties. In farming systems, before the
widespread introduction of manufactured fertilizers
organic residues were the only means of adding many
nutrients to the soil, in particular Nitrogen. In non-
cultivated soils, it is likely that more than 95% of the
Nitrogen and Sulfur is found in the soil organic matter,
and possibly as much as 25% of the Phosphorus
(Amlinger et al., 2007).
One efficient way to increase SOM level is compost
application, produced especially from biomass wastes.
However, the essential influencing factors for SOM-
enrichment are quantity, type and degree of humification
of compost, the soil properties (soil type; clay content)
and managements. Mature composts increase SOM
much better than fresh and immature composts due to
their higher level of stable C (Bouajila and Sanaa, 2011
and Daniel and Bruno, 2012). In addition, high amount of
OM in compost increased OC in both soil and OC amount
in uncultivated soil was higher than cultivated soil
because of plant cultivation effect and increase of OM
degradation in cultivated soil (Soheil et al. 2012).
Bouajila and Sanaa (2011) reported that application of
manure and household wastes compost resulted in
significant increase of organic carbon, with the compost
treatment being the most efficient. Their result showed
that the application of 120 t/ha household wastes
compost and manure improved an organic carbon (1.74
% and 1.09 %, respectively) when compared with control
(0.69 %). Soheil et al. (2012) was investigated, applying
compost to soil increases the amount of soil OC with
increases rate of compost application (Table 2 and 4).
Mohammed et al. (2004) was also conducted an
experiment of use of composted organic wastes as
alternative to synthetic fertilizers in two different seasons
(Wet and dry) on the Tropical Island of Guam. The results
of the trial indicated that land application of organic
compost enhanced soil quality and increased soil fertility
and crop yield. As shown in Table 1, considerable
improvement in soil organic matter content was occurred
with the application of composted organic material.
There are few trials, which show no significant
differences in SOM level by the application of diverse C
sources (straw, manure, compost). However, the majority
of studies of different authors have unambiguously
proven a better humus reproduction for composted
materials (Agegnehu et al., 2014 and Amlinger et al.,
2007). According to Amlinger et al., 2007, the average
SOM demand of agriculturally used soils can be met by
applying 7 10 Mg (dry matter) compost ha-1. Therefore,
for a long-term increase of SOM, more than 10 Mg dry
matter compost ha-1 is required.
Adugna 95
Table 1. Showing improvement for some of the soil physical and chemical properties as they are affected by different
treatment from the first trail during the dry season (March June, 2003)
Treatment
Bulk Density
(gm/cm 3)
Organic
Matter (%)
Moisture
Content (%)
NO3
(ppm)
K
(ppm)
Ca
(ppm)
Mg
(ppm)
0 t/a(cont)
1.18
5.36
26.01
3.28
206.83
3416.17
171.40
30 t/a
1.01
5.64
25.86
4.96
744.97
3779.88
297.59
60 t/a
0.98
6.57
28.07
5.89
1053.36
4748.70
431.20
120 t/a
0.91
9.46
32.16
16.01
1418.70
5492.18
787.92
Source: Mohammad et al. (2004)
Table 2: The effects of MWC on soil properties (Soheil et al., 2012)
Means with common letter in each column are not significantly different at p<0.05 according to Duncan
Figure 1. Soil bulk density in compost amended soils
(ratio of observed values in amended soils in
comparison to the control soils) (Brown and Cotton,
2011). Values <1 indicates reduced bulk density in
comparison to the control soils.
Effects Compost on Soil Physical Properties
Reduction of bulk density
Compost application generally influences soil structure in
a beneficial way by lowering soil density due to the
admixture of low density organic matter into the mineral
soil fraction. This positive effect has been detected in
most cases and it is typically associated with an increase
in porosity because of the interactions between organic
and inorganic fractions (Amlinger et al., 2007). Brown and
Cotton (2011) have observed that soil bulk density
followed a predictable pattern with decreased bulk
density at increasing rate of compost (Figure 1). Low bulk
96 Acad. Res. J. Agri. Sci. Res.
Figure 2. Changes in the structural stability in amended
parcels with manure and compost (Bouajila and Sanaa,
2011)
Figure 3. Water infiltration (minutes) for all
compost amended and control soils with the
same soil sries (Brown and Cotton, 2011).
density indicates increased pore space and is indicative
of improved soil tilth. In this respect, compost increases
the portion of meso- and macro-pores because of an
improved aggregation and stabilization of soil significantly
initiated by various soil organisms (Liu et al., 2007). In
addition, the organic fraction is much lighter in weight
than the mineral fraction in soils. As the result, increases
in the organic fraction decrease the total weight and bulk
density of the soil (Brown and Cotton, 2011).
Increase of aggregate stability
In general, soil structure is defined by size and spatial
distributions of particles, aggregates and pores in soils.
The volume of solid soil particles and the pore volume
influences air balance and root penetration ability. As a
general fact the more soil structure is compacted, the
more unfavorable are the soil conditions for plant growth.
By incorporation of compost into the soil, aggregate
stability increases most effectively in clayey and sandy
soils. Positive effects can be expected by well humified
(promoting micro-aggregates), as well as fresh, low-
molecular OM (promoting macro-aggregates). Macro-
aggregates are mainly stabilized by fungal hyphen, fine
roots, root hair and microorganisms with a high portion of
easily degradable polysaccharides (Amlinger et al.,
2007). Besides clay minerals and oxides, fine roots,
hyphen networks as well as glue-like polysaccharides
originated from root and microbial exudates significantly
contribute to the formation of micro-aggregates.
Besides, the compost quantity, the type of compost
(fresh or mature compost), the intervals of application
and above all the soils on which compost will be applied
influence the effect of compost. The field trial of Bouajila
and Sanaa (2011) showed that application of manure and
household wastes compost resulted in significant
increase of structural stability, with the compost treatment
being the most efficient (Figure 2). Their results also
indicated that the application of 120 t/ha household
wastes and manure improved better the structural
stability when compared with control. Such behavior
might be the result of elevated organic matter content
and important microbial activities (Amlinger et al., 2007).
Furthermore, aggregate and pore properties of soils are
associated with specific “active” surface area influencing
several storage and exchange processes in soil. The
higher the specific surface area, the more intensive
Adugna 97
Table 3: The effects of municipal waste compost (MWC) on concentrations of N, P, K and concentrations
of micronutrients / heavy metals and yield in corn (Soheil et al., 2012)
Means with common letter in each column are not significantly different at p<0.05 according to Duncan
Multiple Range Test
interactions can occur between soil fauna,
microorganisms and root hairs under optimum conditions
(e.g. sufficient humidity). As a result, a high specific
surface area can create the prerequisite for an optimal
soil formation (Amlinger et al., 2007).
Water holding capacity and infiltration
The amount of water that is available to a plant will
depend on two factors: the quantity of water that is able
to infiltrate into the soil and the quantity of water that the
soil is able to hold onto. Field capacity and available
water holding capacity are generally influenced by the
particle size, structure and content of OM. However, clay
soils, due to higher matric potential and smaller pore size
will generally hold significantly more water by weight than
sandy soils. In this respect, Brown and Cotton, (2011)
have indicated that while overall, texture is the
primary factor affecting water holding capacity,
increasing organic carbon is a significant factor for
improving soil water holding capacity. They also
confirmed that compost application had the greatest
effect on soil water holding capacity on coarser textured
soils with smaller to no change in water holding capacity
on finer textured soils. Further they have observed the
effect of compost addition on soil infiltration rate. Across
all soils, compost addition increased water infiltration rate
compared to the control (Figure 3).
Other authors (Bouajila and Sanaa, 2011) reported
similar results that organic amendments allowed better
water infiltration. Thier result showed that the application
of 120 t/ha household wastes compost and manure
improved water infiltration (549.25 and 596.46 cm,
respectively) when compared with control (332.16 cm).
Additionally, increased infiltration is another indication of
increased efficiency in water use as a higher fraction of
irrigation or rainfall is likely to enter soils with higher
infiltration rates. More rapid infiltration is associated with
reduced runoff, better aeration, and improved irrigation
efficiency (Daniel and Bruno, 2012). As with water
holding capacity, soil texture has a significant effect on
infiltration rate. However, unlike water holding capacity,
the largest improvement would be expected in fine
texture soils that tend to be poorly drained. In the study,
the largest improvements in water holding capacity were
seen in the coarse textured or sandy soils while the
largest improvements in water infiltration rate were
observed in the finer textured soils (Brown and Cotton,
2011). Similarly, composted cattle manure applied to the
soils showed a positive effect, improving infiltration and
decreasing runoff volumes by up to 20% (Ramos and
Marttinez-Casasnovas, 2006).
Furthermore, reduced erosion is mainly related to the
improved soil structure by the addition of compost, which,
in turn, is pointed out by better infiltration rate, pore
volume and enhanced stability through aggregation.
According to Amlinger et al. (2007), experimental trials
showed a clear correlation between increases of SOM,
reductions of soil density, soil loss and water run-off.
Strauss (2003) has quantified the effect of compost on
soil erosion in detail. Five years long compost application
resulted in 67% reduced soil erosion, 60% reduced run-
off, and 8% lower bulk density and 21% higher OM
content compared to control plots.
Effects on soil chemical properties
Enhancement of nutrient level
Compost contains significant amounts of valuable plant
nutrients including N, P, K, Ca, Mg and S as well as a
variety of essential trace elements (Agegnehu et al., 2014
and Madeleine et al., 2005). Thus, compost can be
defined as an organic multi nutrient fertilizer (Amlinger et
al., 2007). Its nutrient content as well as other important
chemical properties like C/N ratio, pH and electrical
conductivity (EC) depends on the used organic
feedstocks and compost processing conditions. By an
appropriate mixture of these, organic input materials,
humus and nutrient-rich compost substrates can be
produced which serving as a substitute for commercial
mineral fertilizers in agriculture (Amlinger et al., 2007).
98 Acad. Res. J. Agri. Sci. Res.
However, their diverse beneficial properties for
amelioration outreach their nutrient content.
Soheil et al. (2012) determined the effects of Municipal
Waste Compost (MWC) on soil chemical properties and
corn plant responses in pot experiment. They found that
the amount of available N, P and K and
micronutrient/heavy-metal concentrations in soil
increased as the result of waste compost application
(Table 2). The increases were significant for all
concentrations, especially for 60 t ha-1 treatment. They
also tested the concentrations of N, P, K and
micronutrient elements in the dry matter of the aerial part
of the plant (Table 3). The result showed that N, P and K
content and concentration of micronutrients in plant
increased with increase of compost concentration.
Amount of the waste compost was significantly increased
concentrations of macro and micronutrients in dry matter;
also, they had significant effects on concentrations of
heavy metals. However, the content of concentration of
cations was higher in plants exposed to 60 t ha-1 to 4 Kg
soil compost concentration than the rest concentrations
and control.
According to Soheil et al. (2012) research results, the
application of large quantities of MWC may contaminate
soils with heavy metals or other toxic elements.
Significant differences were observed between
treatments and the treatment 60 tha-1 have shown
highest effects on soil and corn properties. However, to
apply these kinds of fertilizers we should notice the
quantity and available forms of heavy metals and their
additive effects on soils and plants like corn and also we
should notice the excessive quantity of elements and
their toxicity and salinity to soils and plants yield like corn
and use favorable managements. In general, the content
of several ions in the compost is of potential nutritional
value to plants, especially when the heavy metals content
are low, but high concentrations of some ions can
potentially increase salinity soils (Soheil et al. (2012).
In another study, Brown and Cotton (2011)
suggested that compost amended soils contain
comparable concentrations of plant available nutrients
compared to conventionally fertilized soils and elevated
concentrations of macro- and micronutrients in
comparison to control soils. Gamal (2009) has also
conducted the experiment by applying 0 ton, 5 ton, and
10 ton ha-1 rates of compost and tested the nutrient
content at harvest. He observed increased N, P and K
nutrients content in all compost received plots and this
increase was higher in plots receiving 10 ton ha-1 of
compost. With respect to micronutrients, increased
uptake of Cu, Mn and Zn were reported (Amlinger et al.,
2007). Bouajila and Sanaa (2011) have also reported that
the application of increasing manure and waste
household compost concentrations (40 and 120 t/ha)
resulted in significant increase of organic nitrogen (Figure
4).
However, total nutrient content of compost is not plant-
available fully at once. This can be ascribed to the
existence and different intensity of various binding forms
within the organic matrix, which result in a partial
immobilization of nutrients (Tayebeh et al., 2010). On the
other hand, the fertilization effect will last longer due to a
slow and gradual release of plant nutrients (Seran et al.,
2010). Therefore, with compost there is a much better
protection from leaching compared to soluble mineral
fertilizers. Especially the N fertilization effect of compost
is limited due to low mineralization rates and microbial
immobilization (Tayebeh et al., 2010).
Increase of Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC)
The CEC is one of the most important indicators for
evaluating soil fertility, more specifically for nutrient
retention and thus it prevents cations from leaching into
the groundwater. Agegnehu et al. (2014); Jamal (2009)
and Mohammad et al. (2004) proved that compost
amendment resulted in an increase of CEC due to input
of stabilized OM being rich in functional groups into soil.
In Mohammad et al. (2004) study, following the first
harvest from dry season the same plots were used for
re- planting during the wet season. Data obtained from
the second trail indicated that as the compost application
rates were increased from 0 tons per acre to 120 tons per
acre the soil CEC as one of the major soil quality indexes
were also increased (Table 4) indicating a considerable
improvement in nutrient exchange capacity of the soils
treated with organic matter amendments. According to
Amlinger et al. (2007), soil organic matter contributes
about 20 70% to the CEC of many soils. In absolute
terms, CEC of organic matter varies from 300 to 1,400
cmolc kg-1 being much higher than CEC of any inorganic
material.
Increase of pH value, liming effect and improved
buffering capacity
Soil pH is an indicator for soil acidity or soil alkalinity and
is defined as the negative logarithm of hydrogen ions
activity in a soil suspension. It is important for crop
cultivation because many plants and soil organisms have
a preference for slight alkaline or acidic conditions and
thus it influences their vitality. In addition, pH affects
availability of nutrients in the soil. Compost application
has a liming effect due to its richness in alkaline cations
such as Ca, Mg and K, which were liberated from OM
due to mineralization (Agegnehu et al., 2014 and Daniel
and Bruno, 2012). Similarly, regular applied compost
material maintains or enhances soil pH (Jamal, 2009 and
Soheil et al., 2012). Only in some few cases, a pH
decrease was observed after compost application
Adugna 99
Figure 4. Variations in the total nitrogen
percentage in soils amended with manure and
compost (Bouajila and Sanaa, 2011)
Table 4. Showing improvement for some of the soil physical and chemical properties as they are affected by
different treatment from the 2nd trail during the wet season (August - October, 2003)
Treat
pH
OM
(%)
Db
(gr/cm3)
Ca
Mg
K
No3
P
CEC(Meq
/100g)
Mg/kg
0.0 T/A
7.9
3.4
1.03
3178.6
625.6
217.0
13.1
17.8
2.17
30 T/A
7.8
4.6
0.98
3300.6
1018.9
485.4
40.5
35.8
2.62
60T/A
7.8
5.4
1.02
3495.1
1564.6
748.5
55.5
44.6
3.24
120T/A
7.6
7.2
1.01
4312.4
2072.4
1064.7
76.7
58.4
4.16
Source: Mohammad et al. (2004)
(Mohammod et al., 2004).
Kluge (2006) also confirmed a significant increase of
the pH value even at moderate compost applications. A
mean increase of the pH value of 6.4 to 6.8 at 10 Mg d.m.
compost ha-1a-1 was appeared (Figure 5). Thus a supply
of annually 200 400 Kg CaO ha-1at compost
applications between 6 and 7 Mg d.m.ha-1corresponds to
preservation or maintenance liming and stabilization of
the pH value (kluge, 2006).
Effects of compost on water use
To ensure effective production of permanent sustainable
development of agriculture systems, minimizing negative
effects on environment, especially on sources of water
and soil fund is necessary. That means, among others, to
hinder soil degradation leading to nutrient losses and
organic matters losses linked with rapid reduction of
biologic productivity and soil quality. One of the causes of
such degradation is soil‟s lower ability to retain water. An
ability of soil organic matter to bind water has become an
important theme for research in the past years.
Compost does several things to benefit the soil that
synthetic fertilizer cannot do. First, it adds organic matter,
which improves the way water interacts with the soil. In
sandy soils, compost acts as sponge to help retain water
in the soil that would otherwise drain down below the
reach of plant roots, protecting the plant against drought.
In the contrary, compost helps to add porosity to the clay
soil, making it drain easier so that it does not stay
waterlogged and does not dry out into a bricklike
substance. Composts are used in agriculture to improve
soil fertility and quality because they can increase organic
matter content, especially in sandy soils, which have low
water and nutrient holding capacity (Laila, 2009). By
increasing soil organic matter content, composts can
improve soil water holding capacity (Brown and Cotton,
2011).
Mohammad et al. (2004) reported that as the compost
application rates were increased from 0 tons per acre to
120 tons per acre the soil moisture content were also
increased (Table 1) indicating a considerable
improvement in water availability. Brown and Cotton
(2011) proved that soil‟s retentive ability correlates
positively with soil organic matter content and negatively
with soil density. Their result showed that the treated soil
increased water holding capacity by about 1.57 times that
of the control soils. Zemanek (2011) also confirmed that
application of 50 t ha-1 and 100 t. ha-1 compost has a
positive effect on soil moisture retention, regardless of
possible influence of soil type, grassing and amount of
rainfalls (Figure 6). However, the results of 100 t ha-1
showed longer retention of higher values of moisture.
Noah et al. (2010) has also evaluated the effect of
compost and inorganic fertilizer on water use efficiency of
maize crop. The higher and significant difference that
was revealed in crop water demand satisfaction under
100 Acad. Res. J. Agri. Sci. Res.
Figure 5: mean variation of the pH value in different soils
after 8 11 years of compost application (kluge, 2006)
Figure 6. Soil moisture ratio in assessed treatments of
both plots, together with course of rainfalls in 2009 and
2010 (Zemanek, 2011)
compost and its related treatment as compared to
inorganic fertilizer treated soil indicate that compost
media contain more available water than soil treated with
inorganic fertilizer. This is because compost and its
related treatments increased the organic matter content
of the soil and this increased the soil available water-
holding capacity (Brown and Cotton, 2011).
Regarding water use efficiency, Lalia (2009) proved
that the treated sandy soil with compost led to an
increase in water or fertilizers use efficiency by growing
plants i.e. yield in kg per each cubic meter of irrigation
water used or each unit of added nutrients. Noah et al.
(2010 ) also observed that N-enriched co-compost (ECO)
improved crop water use efficiency and was 11% and 4
times higher than that for NPK + (NH4)2SO4 or soil alone.
Effects of compost soil biological properties
One of the most important effects of compost use is the
promotion of soil biology. A great variety of organisms
exists within the soil ranging from large, visible organisms
to organisms, which can only be viewed under a powerful
microscope. These organisms perform a wide range of
functions, which are major contributions to what we
consider normal and healthy soil. It might be reasonably
said that these organisms have essential roles in
determining the functioning of the soil system, but this
functioning is dependent upon a supply of available
carbon. In this context, compost has a stimulation effect
on both the microbial community in the compost
substrate as well as the soil-born micro biota of soils. As
reported by Brown and Cotton, (2011), the application of
compost has increased microbial activity in comparison to
the control soils. They observed microbial activity was
2.23 times greater in the compost amended soils as
compared to the control soils (Figure 7), because organic
matter found in compost provides food for
microorganisms.
Paul (2003) had conducted an experiment on long-term
effects of manure compost and mineral fertilizers on soil
biological activity and observed microbial activity was
enhanced in compost treated field plots. In his trial, soil
fertility was enhanced in the organic plots compared to
the conventional plots as indicated by a higher microbial
biomass, earthworm biomass and enhanced mycorrhizal
root colonization. Microbial biomass and activity
increased in the order: CONMIN < CONFYM < BIOORG
< BIODYN (Figure 8). Moreover, the functional diversity
of soil microorganisms and their efficiency to metabolize
Adugna 101
Figure 7. The ratio of soil organic carbon,
microbial activity, water holding capacity
and bulk density in compost amended
soils in comparison to control soils (control
soils taken from work row or other crops
area with the same soil series (Brown and
Cotton, 2011).
NOFERT = unfertilized control, BIODYN = bio-dynamic
(manure compost), BIOORG = bio-organic (rotted
manure), CONFYM = conventional with mineral fertilizers
plus manure, CONMIN = conventional without manure
(exclusively mineral fertilized).
Figure 8. Soil microbial biomass (mg Cmic*kg soil-1)
under three crops after practicing four farming systems
for three crop rotations (Paul, 2003)
organic carbon sources was increased in the organically
fertilized systems with highest values in the compost
manure BIODYN soils. However, two fractions of OM are
responsible for the level of microbial activity in general: (i)
Easily degradable organic compounds (labile OM pool)
may increase microbial activity and biomass temporarily
while (ii) a persistent increase of microbial biomass
depends on a constant enhancement of stable OM which
is particularly promoted by mature compost addition
(Paul, 2003).
Effects of compost on crop productivity
Due to its multiple positive effects on the physical,
chemical and biological soil properties, compost
contributes to the stabilization and increase of crop
productivity and crop quality (Tayebeh et al., 2010 and
102 Acad. Res. J. Agri. Sci. Res.
Amlinger et al., 2007). Long-term field trials proved that
compost has an equalizing effect of annual/seasonal
fluctuations regarding water, air and heat balance of
soils, the availability of plant nutrients and thus the final
crop yields (Amlinger et al., 2007). For that reason, a
higher yield safety can be expected compared to pure
mineral fertilization. Better crop results were often
obtained if during the first years higher amounts of
compost were applied every 2nd to 3rd year than by
applying compost in lower quantities of < 10 Mg (DM) ha-
1 every year (Amlinger et al., 2007). However, crop yields
after pure compost application were mostly lower when
compared to mineral fertilization (Agegnehu et al., 2014
and Amlinger et al., 2007), at least during the first years.
This can be explained by the slow release of nutrients
(especially N) during mineralization of compost.
Mohammed et al. (2004) has compared the use of
composted organic wastes as alternative to synthetic
fertilizers for enhancing crop productivity and agricultural
sustainability in two season (wet and dry). Yield results
from the dry season trail showed gradual increase in crop
yield as compost application rate was increased from 0
tons per acre (control) to 120 tons per acre of compost
application (Figure 9). Data from the second corn
harvest (fall of 2003) showed considerable yield increase
(Figure 10) as the result of increased compost application
rates on soils under treatment. However, 120 tons per
acre of composted application rate in wet season showed
decreased in yield as compared with 60 tons per acre of
compost applied. This was an indication that additional
application suppressed the grain production probably due
to lush green vegetative growth that was observed during
the growing season (Mohammed et al., 2004).
In another study, marketable yields of maize were
significantly increased by 107 and 124 % due to
application of compost at the rates of 5 and 7 ton fed-1,
respectively, over that of control treatment (Laila, 2011).
Moreover, compost increases available form of nutrients
for plant in soil and then increases root growth and
nutrient uptake by plant that results in plant stem height
and dry weight rise up (Soheil et al., 2012). Gamal (2009)
also reported that application of 5 ton ha-1 compost
increased sorghum grain yield by 45% as compared to no
compost plots, while the grain yield was higher at
composted plots (10 ton ha-1) by 19% than no compost
plots in different sites.
Compost use does not only improve the growth and
productivity of crops in terms of quantity but it could be
also proved that quality of agricultural products is
influenced in a positive way (Mehammed et al., 2012).
Gemal (2009) observed that the quality of corn crop was
improved as the result of increasing compost application
rate. Tayebeh et al. (2010) was also observed that
compost had a significant effect on seed protein and the
maximum amount of seed protein was observed in 60 Mg
compost ha-1 treatment.
On the contrary, organic manures like compost
discharge nutrients very slowly to the plants and
these nutrients are not directly absorb by the plants.
Therefore, plants are unable access required amount of
nutrients in the critical yield-forming period. Hence, an
integrated approach, combining application of compost
with an application of inorganic fertilizer is a good
strategy for increasing crop productivity. Such
combination also contributed to the improvement of
physical, chemical and biological properties and soil
organic matter and nutrient status. Seran et al. (2010)
investigated that half fold of recommended inorganic
fertilizers and compost at the rate of 4 t ha-1 could
give profitable yield and this combination could possibly
reduce the cost of production in the onion cultivation.
Similarly, application of half the recommended N and P
rate and half the recommended rate of manure and
compost as inorganic N equivalence resulted in yield
advantages of about 129% compared to the control
(Agegnehu et al., 2014). Tayebeh et al. (2010) were also
tested the effect of organic and inorganic fertilizers on
grain yield and protein banding pattern of wheat, and he
strongly suggested using combination of organic and
inorganic fertilizer to achieve highest yield without
negative effect on seed quality. It is clear from the results
of their study that 30% of the required nitrogen fertilizer
could be replaced by compost, because compost
improved the use efficiency of recommended nitrogen
fertilizer and reduced its cost. In this way, by carefully
managing N fertilization, less N may be needed while
grain wheat yields and protein may be maintained or
increased. In addition, less use of N fertilization will lead
to environmental conversation.
CONCLUSION
Intensive cultivation, misuse and excessive use of
chemical fertilizers may lead to loss of soil organic
matter, have adverse effects on the environment and can
threaten human and animal health as well as in food
safety and quality. Fertilizers are needed for high yields,
particularly in nutrient poor soils. With increasing fertilizer
prices and limited resources reserves, organic
amendments like compost and manure as a source of
nutrients and organic matter are considered an economic
and environmentally-friendly alternative. Compared to
plant residue and manure, composts release nutrients
more slowly and have longer- lasting effects. The slow
decomposition is more effective increasing soil organic
matter content of the soil, which plays a key role in soil
fertility by retaining nutrients, maintaining soil structure
and holding water. They also have other advantages
such as disposal and recycling of municipals solid wastes
there by reducing material going into landfill.
Caution must also be exercised in generalizing on the
Adugna 103
Treatment - Compost Application
Figure 9.Yield results from the dry season trial (spring harvest)
showing gradual increase as compost application rates were
increased from 0 to 120 tons per acre (Mohammad et al., 2004).
Treatment - Compost Application
Figure 10. Yield results from the wet season trial (fall harvest)
showing gradual increase as compost application rates were
increased from 0 to 120 tons per acre (Mohammad et al.,
2004).
effects of composts on soil health, fertility and crop
nutrition due to the variable nature of composts, and their
interactions with climatic, edaphic and crop properties.
While the general effects of compost application on soils,
have been well documented such as increasing soil
structural stability, improving water holding capacity and
plant water availability, decreasing leaching of nutrients
and reducing erosion and evaporation. However, the
effect of composts on soils is likely to be strongly
dependent on compost composition, which depends on
feedstocks, composting conditions and duration. In
addition, some studies have indicated that the effects of
compost application on soil and plant nutrients may be
modulated by soil type. Hence, the interactions between
compost type, soil properties, tillage and rotation are
needed to be well characterized.
Furthermore, organic manures like compost
discharge nutrients very slowly to the plants and
these nutrients are not directly absorb by the plants.
Therefore, plants are unable access required amount of
nutrients in the critical yield-forming period. Hence, an
integrated approach, combining application of compost
with an application of inorganic fertilizer is a good
strategy for increasing crop productivity. This will reduce
the cost of inorganic fertilizer and improve soil fertility.
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... Compost is also known to suppress soil pathogens and plant diseases [16]. Municipal solid waste compost (MSWC) contains large amounts of organic matter [19] and is a good nutrient source [23][24][25][26][27] which enhances net primary productivity. In addition, MSC produces marketable high-value products that can provide revenues for sustainable and financially viable waste management systems [28]. ...
... The synchronisation between nutrient availability and plant nutrient uptake is critical for improving nutrient use efficiency and minimising nutrient losses [30,31]. A severe short-term nutrient deficiency generated by adding enormous amounts of low-nutrient composts can prove fatal for new crops, and an initial planting might fail [23]. However, compost's slow nutrient release pattern enhances the net primary productivity and reduces the need for constant application of fertilisers [32]. ...
Article
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Background Deteriorating soil fertility is a major constraint to agricultural production and food security among smallholder farmers in Uganda and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of the population relies on subsistence farming for its livelihoods. Unfortunately, inorganic fertiliser used as a significant soil nutrient replenishment is unsustainable, causing adverse environmental effects, including soil acidification and pollution of water bodies. Therefore, finding alternative, more sustainable, low-cost nutrient management systems is vital. This study assessed the decomposition and nutrient release patterns of municipal solid waste compost (MSWC) in a 36 weeks litter bag experiment under field conditions in two agro-ecological zones (AEZs) of Uganda. Results We found a higher rate of decomposition in the South-western Grass Farmlands (SGF) agro-ecological zone (0.041 week⁻¹, with 20% of initial compost mass remaining after 36 weeks of decay) compared to Southern and Eastern Lake Kyoga Basin (SEKB) (0.043 week⁻¹, 32% of initial litter mass remaining). The half-life values were 16 and 17 weeks for SGF and SEKB AEZs, respectively. The nutrient release rates differed between the two study sites. The macronutrient release pattern in both sites followed the order K > P > N. The secondary macronutrients release followed the order Ca > Mg in the SGF, while in SEKB, the order was reversed. The micronutrients followed the order Cu > Mn > Fe > Zn and Cu > Mn > Zn > Fe in SGF and SEKB AEZs, respectively. The MSWC mass loss during decomposition was negatively correlated with rainfall in both AEZs and with temperature in SGF AEZ, while it was positively correlated with temperature in SEKB AEZ. However, the relationship with nutrient release rates was inconsistent in both AEZs. Conclusions Our results showed consistent release of nutrients in all AEZs throughout the study period, which coincides with the two cropping seasons in Uganda, suggesting that smallholder farmers can use MSWC as a soil amendment to address soil fertility decline and improve crop productivity. However, because most nutrients were released almost right away in both AEZs, planting should be done at the beginning of high rainfall months when soil moisture is high to synchronise nutrient release from MSWC with crop demand and maximise nutrient uptake by crops while minimising losses to the environment. Furthermore, the inconsistent relationships between the climatic variables and nutrient release suggest that other factors, such as site-specific microbial composition, influenced MSWC nutrient release. Therefore, long-term research is needed to examine other factors affecting nutrient release in these AEZs.
... The calcareous soil lacksorganic material necessary for plant growth.It is required to improve the nutritional management of cultivation of crops successfully in the soil of calcareousby the addition of organic amendments. The organic amendments improve the physical and chemical properties of soiland increase soil fertility (Getinet, 2016).The application of compost to calcareous soil increases the retained soil water, which improves water holding capacity and available water (Burgin and Groffman, 2012;Vengadaramana and Jashothan, 2012).The Compost provides available nutrients for uptake of plant and enhances microbial activity and carbon dioxide production, which decreasing pH of calcareous soil leads to nutrient availability in soil. Aboukilaet al.,(2018)found that the availableN, P and K increase by using compost in calcareous soil.Compost increased available micronutrients (Zn, Cu, Mn and Fe ) in soil (Bhanooduth, 2006). ...
... Compost is one of the factors that contribute to increasing soil fertility and crop productivity where it improves soil properties (physical, biological and chemical) and increases availability and organic matter in the soil (Getinet, 2016;Yumin and Pengcheng, 2016). Compost contains macronutrients (N, P, K, S, Mg and Ca) and micronutrients as well as organic matter (Agegnehu et al., 2014). ...
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Cultivation of calcareous soils faces many difficulties due to its properties, as it lacks organic matter, as well as low availability of nutrients, especially phosphorous. This study, using two cereal crops (wheat and barley) to study the effect of compost as a source of organic matter and nano- hydroxyapatite as a source of phosphorus onsome properties of calcareous soil and P content in plants. The main plots were compost (C) with three doses C0 (without C), C1 (12 ton/ha) and C2 (24 ton/ha), the sub plots were different sources of phosphorous [the traditional P CaH6O8P2 (S0) and nano-hydroxyapatite (nHAP) with two rates of S1 (1.5 g/L) and S2 (3 g/L)]. The nano-hydroxyapatite is characterized by X-ray powder diffraction (X-ray), scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Obtained results stated that the biological yield, grain and straw of both wheat and barley were significantly increased with treatments as compared to C0 and S0, especially with C2 and S2. In addition, there is a positive trend between treatments rate and P contentin straw and grain of both crops, the maximum increase was observed with C2 and S2.Also, the application of compost led to a change in soil chemical properties, pH wasdecreased at treatments applied and such decreases were proportional to treatments concentration increase. An opposite trend was observed with organic matter (OM) and available phosphorus. In addition, there is a positive and highly significant correlation between grain yield with P content in plants.
... The calcareous soil lacksorganic material necessary for plant growth.It is required to improve the nutritional management of cultivation of crops successfully in the soil of calcareousby the addition of organic amendments. The organic amendments improve the physical and chemical properties of soiland increase soil fertility (Getinet, 2016).The application of compost to calcareous soil increases the retained soil water, which improves water holding capacity and available water (Burgin and Groffman, 2012;Vengadaramana and Jashothan, 2012).The Compost provides available nutrients for uptake of plant and enhances microbial activity and carbon dioxide production, which decreasing pH of calcareous soil leads to nutrient availability in soil. Aboukilaet al.,(2018)found that the availableN, P and K increase by using compost in calcareous soil.Compost increased available micronutrients (Zn, Cu, Mn and Fe ) in soil (Bhanooduth, 2006). ...
... Compost is one of the factors that contribute to increasing soil fertility and crop productivity where it improves soil properties (physical, biological and chemical) and increases availability and organic matter in the soil (Getinet, 2016;Yumin and Pengcheng, 2016). Compost contains macronutrients (N, P, K, S, Mg and Ca) and micronutrients as well as organic matter (Agegnehu et al., 2014). ...
... Continuous application of MSW compost for 5 years remarkably altered soil structure and soil function such as increased soil water content and nutrient status and accessibility to plants compared to the control (Table 1) as previously reported by [29]. After Year 5, soil particle and bulk densities were significantly (p < 0.05) reduced in the annual plot (AN-soil) seconded by the biennial plot (BI-soil) and then the control plot (C-soil). ...
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The benefit sof municipal solid waste (MSW) compost on soil health and plant productivity are well known, but not its long-term effect on soil microbial and plant metabolic pathways. A 5-year study with annual (AN), biennial (BI) and no (C, control) MSW compost application were carried out to determine the effect on soil properties, microbiome function, and plantgrowth and TCA cycle metabolites profile of green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), lettuce (Latuca sativa) and beets (Beta vulgaris). MSW compost increased soil nutrients and organic matter leading to a significant (p < 0.05) increase in AN-soil water-holding capacity followed by BI-soil compared to C-soil. Estimated nitrogen release in the AN-soil was ca. 23% and 146% more than in BI-soil and C-soil, respectively. Approximately 44% of bacterial community due to compost. Deltaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes Bacteroidia, and Chloroflexi Anaerolineae were overrepresented in compost amended soils compared to C-soil. A strong positive association existed between AN-soil and 18 microbial metabolic pathways out of 205. Crop yield in AN-soil were increased by 6–20% compared to the BI-soil, and by 35–717% compared to the C-soil. Plant tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolites were highly (p < 0.001) influenced by compost. Overall, microbiome function and TCA cycle metabolites and crop yield were increased in the AN-soil followed by the BI-soil and markedly less in C-soil. Therefore, MSW compost is a possible solution to increase soil health and plants production in the medium to long term. Future study must investigate rhizosphere metabolic activities.
... Especially under O treatment, when the mean annual precipitation is 600-1000 mm, the yield is decreased significantly, while the inversely under <600 mm and >1000 mm conditions. Therefore, organic amendments can better balance the soil environment of water, nutrients, air and heat, thereby promoting the crop growth and development (Adugna, 2016). ...
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Cover crop can reduce the intensity of land use, and improve soil fertility and productivity in multiple-cropping systems. However, only a few studies have comprehensively evaluated soil health after cover crops in terms of management goal and soil multi-functionality. In this study, different minimum data set (MDS) methods were used to establish a soil health index (SQI) model to evaluate soil health of the winter smooth vetch-summer maize cropping system in southwest China. We analyzed thirty-five soil parameters (representing soil physical, chemical and biological properties) connected with the soil functions as potential soil health indicators in the phase of smooth vetch and maize under six management treatments (CK (control), N (N fertilizer), P (P fertilizer), NP (N and P fertilizer), NPW (N and P fertilizer + irrigation), CF (fallow)). Those managements were set in the smooth vetch phase (as a cover crop). The MDS using correlation analysis (cMDS), principal component analysis (pMDS) and random forest analysis (rMDS) from the total data set (TDS) were selected and then used for SQIs calculation, respectively. Cover crop by different management of irrigation and fertilization affected each soil property in different ways. All three SQIs were significantly correlated with SQI-TDS, validating the SQI models developed by three MDS methods (P < 0.05). Further, the SQI based on rMDS was the most accurate and sensitive, suggesting the RFA-based SQI reflects soil functions more adequately than the CA and PCA-based SQI. Cover crop by the management of fertilization or/and irrigation will not only improve soil health, but also enhance maize yield compared with fallow treatment, especially for NPW treatment. Fertilization treatments (N, P, NP and NPW) had higher soil health index, which was related to the better performance of soil in sustaining biological activity, physical stability and supporting function. In summary, the SQI model developed by the RFA method can provide a practical and robust tool for assessing soil health based on the management goal.
... This can be achieved through application of mineral fertilizers, retaining crop residues to soil, and reduced tillage. The improvement of physicochemical characteristics of soil would also lead to reduced erosion, improved soil water and nutrient retention, and increased crop productivity [1]. According to [2] land management practices such as tillage affect soil physicochemical and biological properties. ...
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No-till (NT) has been said to conserve soil moisture, maintain or increase organic matter (OM), and improve crop production compared to conventional tillage (CT). However, very few studies have explored the effect of these under dry-land agriculture with occasional tillage where ploughing is performed only after several years of NT, especially in KwaZulu–Natal. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of tillage and fertilizer application on selected physicochemical soil properties under rain-fed maize production. Soil samples from NT, conventional tillage in the 5th season (CT-Y5), and annual conventional tillage (CT-A) with 0, 60, 120, 240 kg N ha−1 were taken at 0–10, 10–20, and 20–30 cm and analysed for pH, EC, exchangeable acidity, exchangeable bases, C:N, gravimetric water content, bulk density, and soil texture. Results showed that NT at 0 and 60 kg N ha−1 in 0–10 cm had higher bases, gravimetric water content, pH, and EC compared CT-Y5 and CT-A (p < 0.05). At 10–20 cm depth, CT-Y5 had higher gravimetric water content (0.17 gg−1), followed by CT-A, (0.13 g g−1), while NT had the least (0.11 g g−1) (p < 0.05) in the control treatment. Again at 20–30 cm depth, NT had higher (p < 0.05) bases than CT-Y5 and CT-A tillage practices at 120 and 240 kg N ha−1 application rate. Regression analysis of fertilizer application rate with both bases and gravimetric water content showed a strong relationship under NT. Better soil properties under both NT and CT-Y5 was attributed to residue cover and minimum disturbance of the soil, which encouraged infiltration, thus reducing runoff and evaporation from the soil surface. Accumulation of residue under conservation tillage enhances OM, which subsequently improves soil quality, whereas ploughing aerates the soil causing oxidation of OM, thus releasing H+ ions. Again, fertilizer application induces mineralization of OM, thus, higher fertilizer application rates result in low levels of carbon. NT is well-recommended in conserving soil quality while sustaining crop productivity.
... It consists of relatively stable decomposed organic materials resulting from the accelerated biological degradation of organic materials under controlled aerobic condition. It is made from plant and animal remains for crop production [9]. ...
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Full-text available
There is global a demand for organic food due to perceived harmful effects of synthetic and chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to humans health. Owing to this, biofertilizer was produced from some selected organic waste materials through Conventional Compost and Vermicompost methods to determine their macro and micro mineral nutrients, also to ascertain their efficiency in organic farming. The Vermicompost was done with (Eisena fetilda) earthworm in an earthen pot with mixture of samples of farm and poultry droppings in the ratio of 5:1. Results of the compost and vermicompost of all the samples showed that macro mineral nutrients of samples A-C are as follows. Fe (24.00mg/kg-33.41mg/kg), Cu (26.01mg/kg-39.15mg/kg), Zn (4.91mg/kg-11.20mg/kg), Mn (27.50mg/kg-34.71mg/kg) while micro mineral nutrients are Mg (21.51mg/kg-4.19mg/kg), Ca (18.20mg/kg-25.51mg/kg) N (20.00mg/kg-29.41.00mg/kg) K (25.51mg/kg-32.01mg/kg) P (30.80mg/kg-38.51mg/kg). Comparatively Vermicompost had better macro and micro nutrient probably due to the action of Eisenia fetida which promotes mineralization. Vermicompost fertilizer promotes growth rate of Scent leave due to nutrient balance in organic manure which affects plant growth and development compared to conventional compost fertilizer. Vermicompost and conventional compost fertilizer samples can be utilized as organic fertilizer in crop production and could be commercialized. They can also be applied in waste management to promote healthy environment.
... Organic fertilizer increased soil organic carbon, N, P, K, and cation exchange capacity, and these invariably enhanced the H. annuus growth. 23,24 Co-application of organic and urea fertilizers had similar but lower effects on growth of the plant. However, application of urea alone from 400 mg Pb kg -1 resulted to about 100% death of H. annuus from 4 WAS, while 50% death of H. annuus occurred from 800 mg Pb kg -1 with organic + urea application. ...
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Full-text available
p> Background: Indiscriminate dumping of wastes, including heavy metals such as lead (Pb) on Nigerian soils is increasing. Helianthus annuus has been found to have ability to clean up contaminated soils, but with paucity of information on the effect of Pb stress on the plant’ antioxidant enzymes activities when fertilizers are applied as soil enhancers, hence this study. Methods: The experiment consisted of four levels (0, 400, 800, 1200 mg Pb kg<sup>-1</sup>) using [Pb (CH<sub>3</sub>COO)<sub>2</sub>.3H<sub>2</sub>O], three rates (0, 5 and 10 t ha<sup>-1</sup>) of organic and two rates (0 and 2 t ha<sup>-1</sup>) of urea fertilizers, and each treatment was replicated thrice to give a total of 72 experimental units in pot culture. Each pot contained 10 kg of sieved topsoil and arranged in a complete randomized design. The H. annuus seeds were sown, fertilizers were applied and stands of H. annuus were collected for antioxidant enzymes (SOD, CAT, POX and APX) activities determination in the roots and shoots using standard methods. Results: Soil pH was slightly acidic and soil texture was loamy sand. Biomass yield of H. annuus increased with increase in organic fertilizer, but decreased with increase in Pb contamination. There was significant (p<0.05) increase in detoxification responses in the shoots than the roots of H. annuus against oxidative stress caused by Pb toxicity when organic fertilizer was applied to soil. Conclusions: The study concluded that addition of organic fertilizer increased biomass yield and had superior enhancing detoxification responses on H. annuus against oxidative stress by Pb toxicity.</p
... Since then, compost has been widely applied in agricultural fields as a source of limiting nutrients for crops, such as nitrogen and phosphorus [62][63][64][65], amendments to reducing soil-borne crop diseases [66,67], and as a way of enhancing soil fertility by increasing natural nutrient cycling [68] in both conventional and organic agriculture [69]. The applications of compost have expanded to other fields, such as control of soil erosion [70], carbon sequestration [71], greenhouse gases biofiltration [72] and enhanced bioremediation [46,73]. Indeed, their application in bioremediation of organic contaminants has exponentially increased over the years [74,75]. ...
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Technical advances have converted bioremediation into a large-scale ecosystem service suitable for the treatment of polluted soils worldwide; however, its application in Chile is scarce. The main hurdles that must be addressed include the capacities of such approaches for the treatment of polluted soils, the lack of knowledge about key factors affecting bioremediation costs and the lack of a legal framework to regulate this activity. In this study, the economic performance of the bioremediation of chronically hydrocarbon-polluted urban soils based on bioaugmentation, biostimulation or the combination of both approaches projected to an industrial scale was evaluated. The cost of bioremediation ranged between USD 50.7 and USD 310.4 per m3 of contaminated soil. In addition, the items and activities that had the most significant impacts on the final bioremediation cost, such as compost for biostimulation and bacterial growth media for bioaugmentation-based approaches, were identified. The projected costs were compared against an extensive database of 130 soil bioremediation projects. The bioremediation treatment costs fell within the top 60% of the more expensive projects, highlighting the high effort involved in bioremediation of chronically contaminated soils. This framework can facilitate the decision making of entrepreneurs, consultants, researchers and governmental authorities when launching initiatives to develop a local bioremediation industry capable of cleaning up a high number of polluted sites in Chile.
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