Special Issue "Composting and Organic Soil Amendments"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Riccardo Scotti
Website
Guest Editor
University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0E, UK
Interests: organic agriculture; sustainable agriculture; soil fertility; soil quality; green waste recycling; compost; organic amendments; organic matter; soil organic carbon; soil enzymes; soil enzymatic activities; PGPR; microbial ecology; metagenomics; soil microbiome; plant-bacteria interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Compost is a stable organic matter derived from induced aerobic fermentation of different organic feedstocks. Composting is one of the most environmentally friendly technologies for biowaste management. It can be considered an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally safe biological process for recycling residual agricultural biomasses. Composting can contribute to solving the problem of disposing biomasses and green feedstock and, moreover, to providing a useful tool to improve soil quality.

Loss of soil quality due to organic matter depletion in agricultural soils has increased in the last decades. Soils under intensive agricultural management need an external supply of organic matter, as compost, in order to counteract progressive soil organic matter decline. Soil amendments can contribute to the general soil quality recovery and improvement of plant-growing conditions by providing numerous ecosystem services, including the replenishment of soil carbon stocks, increase of microbial activity, and biodiversity and restoration of plant nutrition and natural soil suppressiveness.

On these bases, the aim of this Special Issue is to cover the state-of-the-art and recent progress in different aspects related to the composting process and the use of soil organic amendments, composts, and compost-derivate substances, for increasing soil quality and sustainability in agriculture. All types of manuscripts (original research and reviews) bringing together new insights on microbiome composition, soil organic matter evolution, effects of organic amendments on soil properties, and on crops are welcome. 

Dr. Riccardo Scotti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Soil microbiome composition and activity
  • Soil fertility
  • Biowaste recycling
  • Soil organic matter

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Alpha and Beta-diversity of Microbial Communities Associated to Plant Disease Suppressive Functions of On-farm Green Composts
Agriculture 2020, 10(4), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10040113 - 04 Apr 2020
Abstract
Green waste composts are obtained from agricultural production chains; their suppressive properties are increasingly being developed as a promising biological control option in the management of soil-borne phytopathogens. The wide variety of microbes harbored in the compost ecological niches may regulate suppressive functions [...] Read more.
Green waste composts are obtained from agricultural production chains; their suppressive properties are increasingly being developed as a promising biological control option in the management of soil-borne phytopathogens. The wide variety of microbes harbored in the compost ecological niches may regulate suppressive functions through not yet fully known underlying mechanisms. This study investigates alpha- and beta-diversity of the compost microbial communities, as indicators of the biological features. Our green composts displayed a differential pattern of suppressiveness over the two assayed pathosystems. Fungal and bacterial densities, as well as catabolic and enzyme functionalities did not correlate with the compost control efficacy on cress disease. Differences in the suppressive potential of composts can be better predicted by the variations in the community levels of physiological profiles indicating that functional alpha-diversity is more predictive than that which is calculated on terminal restriction fragments length polymorphisms (T-RFLPs) targeting the 16S rRNA gene. However, beta-diversity described by nMDS analysis of the Bray–Curtis dissimilarity allowed for separating compost samples into distinct functionally meaningful clusters and indicated that suppressiveness could be regulated by selected groups of microorganisms as major deterministic mechanisms. This study contributes to individuating new suitable characterization procedures applicable to the suppressive green compost chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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Open AccessArticle
Microbiota Characterization of Agricultural Green Waste-Based Suppressive Composts Using Omics and Classic Approaches
Agriculture 2020, 10(3), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10030061 - 04 Mar 2020
Abstract
While the control of soil-borne phytopathogenic fungi becomes increasingly difficult without using chemicals, concern over the intensive use of pesticides in agriculture is driving more environmentally sound crop protection managements. Among these approaches, the use of compost to suppress fungal diseases could have [...] Read more.
While the control of soil-borne phytopathogenic fungi becomes increasingly difficult without using chemicals, concern over the intensive use of pesticides in agriculture is driving more environmentally sound crop protection managements. Among these approaches, the use of compost to suppress fungal diseases could have great potential. In this study, a multidisciplinary approach has been applied to characterize microbiota composition of two on-farm composts and assess their suppress and biostimulant activities. The on-farm composting system used in this study was able to produce two composts characterized by an antagonistic microbiota community able to suppress plant pathogens and biostimulate plant growth. Our results suggest a potential role for Nocardiopsis and Pseudomonas genera in suppression, while Flavobacterium and Streptomyces genera seem to be potentially involved in plant biostimulation. In conclusion, this study combines different techniques to characterize composts, giving a unique overview on the microbial communities and their role in suppressiveness, helping to unravel their complexity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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Open AccessArticle
Stepwise-Selected Bacillus amyloliquefaciens and B. subtilis Strains from Composted Aromatic Plant Waste Able to Control Soil-Borne Diseases
Agriculture 2020, 10(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10020030 - 23 Jan 2020
Abstract
In the present study, 133 bacterial isolates from 11 composted aromatic plant wastes were selected for their ability to inhibit the mycelial growth of the soil-borne phytopathogenic fungi Sclerotinia minor and Rhizoctonia solani. Successively, a subset of 35 from them were further [...] Read more.
In the present study, 133 bacterial isolates from 11 composted aromatic plant wastes were selected for their ability to inhibit the mycelial growth of the soil-borne phytopathogenic fungi Sclerotinia minor and Rhizoctonia solani. Successively, a subset of 35 from them were further characterized for their ability to control, in vivo, rocket damping-off caused by the two fungi. Moreover, the isolates were characterized for morphology of the colonies, Gram reaction, siderophore production, P-solubilization and for the presence of antimicrobial lipopeptide genes in the genome. The screening for the in vitro antagonisms showed a mycelial growth reduction ranging between 31.7% and 56.1% for R. solani and 34.4% and 59.4% for S. minor. All the isolates were not able to produce siderophores and some of them were able to solubilize P. The isolates contained two or more of the five lipoproteins coding genes investigated in this study. The most promising isolates were identified at species level by 16S-rRNA partial gene sequence analysis and were grouped in two main clusters related to Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens reference strains. Results indicated that Bacillus isolates from compost are good candidates for application in the biocontrol of cultivated plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring the Topics of Soil Pollution and Agricultural Economics: Highlighting Good Practices
Agriculture 2020, 10(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10010024 - 19 Jan 2020
Abstract
The evolution of the agricultural sector around the world has generated positive and negative externalities at social, economic and environmental levels. These impacts from the modernization of agriculture would not be, themselves, problematic if the global balance were positive, in sustainable development. However, [...] Read more.
The evolution of the agricultural sector around the world has generated positive and negative externalities at social, economic and environmental levels. These impacts from the modernization of agriculture would not be, themselves, problematic if the global balance were positive, in sustainable development. However, in some cases, the negative externalities overlap the positive outcomes, namely in soil pollution from the application of fertilizers and crop protection products. From this perspective, the main objective of this study is to explore the relationships between the two following topics: soil pollution and agricultural economics. For this a literature survey was performed from the Web of Science platform based on these two topics put together. From the Web of Science, 45 studies were found and were clustered and explored first through the software VOSviewer. The literature explored with this software was clustered into three groups and shows that the studies related with these topics highlight, namely, three aspects: the problem in question, the benefits and the losses. After this network analysis, the several documents were studied deeper through literature review. Agricultural policies, farmers perceptions, stakeholders’ involvement, farms’ multifunctionality, sustainability and adjusted agricultural practices are all questions to be taken into account in the feedback between soil pollution and agricultural economics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers on the Yield and Quality of Jalapeño Pepper Fruit (Capsicum annuum L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(10), 208; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9100208 - 21 Sep 2019
Abstract
Organic fertilizers were evaluated on jalapeno pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and on their effect on the soil content of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), electrical conductivity (EC), pH and organic matter (OM), at the Experimental Station of the Agriculture and Zootechnics Faculty (FAZ-UJED), [...] Read more.
Organic fertilizers were evaluated on jalapeno pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and on their effect on the soil content of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), electrical conductivity (EC), pH and organic matter (OM), at the Experimental Station of the Agriculture and Zootechnics Faculty (FAZ-UJED), Ejido Venecia, Durango, México. The assayed experimental fertilizers were vermicompost (VC) with 0 and 3 Mg ha−1, in factorial combination with solarized manure (SM), with 0, 40, 80, and 120 Mg ha−1, and an inorganic fertilization nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) at 150–100–00 Mg ha−1. Microbiological analyses were performed to evaluate the presence of Salmonella spp. The highest yield was 56.2 Mg ha−1 with 120 Mg ha−1 SM, which was statistically similar to 40 and 80 Mg ha−1; the highest P content (70.7 mg kg−1) and OM (3.7%) occurred with 120 Mg ha−1 SM. The inorganic fertilizer reflected the lowest OM (1.1%). Nutrients provided by SM were sufficient to satisfy the crop needs. Values of pH, EC and N were not affected by SM. The fruit quality was not affected by the organic fertilizers. Most fruits were classified as Second-Class Quality (60%), followed by First-Class Quality (25%). Microbiological analyses were negative for Salmonella spp., suggesting that the SM is effective in its elimination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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Open AccessArticle
Pongamia pinnata L. Leaves Biochar Increased Growth and Pigments Syntheses in Pisum sativum L. Exposed to Nutritional Stress
Agriculture 2019, 9(7), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9070153 - 11 Jul 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Pea (Pisum sativum L.) leaf chlorophyll and pigments syntheses are retarded under nutritional stress. Biochar has the potential to regulate soil nutrient supplies and optimize plant nutrient uptakes. We examine the role of Pongamia pinnata L. waste leaf biochar (PLB) in improving [...] Read more.
Pea (Pisum sativum L.) leaf chlorophyll and pigments syntheses are retarded under nutritional stress. Biochar has the potential to regulate soil nutrient supplies and optimize plant nutrient uptakes. We examine the role of Pongamia pinnata L. waste leaf biochar (PLB) in improving vegetative growth and leaf chlorophyll and accessory pigments of pea exposed to nutritional stress. Three PLB application rates (0, 1, and 2%) crossed with half (HF), and full NPK fertilizer (FF) recommended doses were applied to sandy soil field-pots (arranged in a completely randomized design). There were significant or maximum increases in plant vegetative or physiological traits, including the fresh or dry, above- and below-ground biomass weights, and photosynthetic pigments (chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, total chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanin) in response to a 2%PLB + FF application (p = 0.002). Trait values also responded to 2%PLB + HF, which signified the nutrient regulatory character of PLB (p = 0.038). The PLB-driven reduction in nutritional stress resulted in diminished lycopene (antioxidant) content (p = 0.041). Therefore, we suggest that the soil application of 2%PLB + FF has the greatest impact on pea vegetative growth and leaf chlorophyll, carotenoids, anthocyanin, and lycopene contents in Pisum sativum L. Further research is recommended to investigate the relationship of PLB with soil nutrient availabilities and plant nutrient concentrations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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Open AccessArticle
Ascorbic Acid, Sugars, Phenols, and Nitrates Concentrations in Tomato Grown in Animal Manure Amended Soil
Agriculture 2019, 9(5), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9050094 - 02 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
We studied the impact of animal manure that was mixed with biochar (a product of wood pyrolysis) on the nitrates (NO3), vitamin C, total phenols, and soluble sugars concentrations in tomato fruits (Solanum lycopersicum var. Marglobe) of plants that [...] Read more.
We studied the impact of animal manure that was mixed with biochar (a product of wood pyrolysis) on the nitrates (NO3), vitamin C, total phenols, and soluble sugars concentrations in tomato fruits (Solanum lycopersicum var. Marglobe) of plants that were grown in raised plastic-mulch of freshly tilled soils. Sewage sludge (SS), horse manure (HM), chicken manure (CM), vermicompost (worm castings), commercial inorganic fertilizer, commercial organic fertilizer, and bare soil used for comparison purposes were the soil amendments. Each of the seven treatments was mixed with 10% (w/w) biochar to make a total of 42 treatments. Chemical analysis of mature tomato fruits revealed that the fruits of plants grown in SS amended soil contained the greatest concentration of NO3 (17.2 µg g−1 fresh fruits), whereas those that were grown in SS biochar amended soils contained the lowest concentrations of nitrate (5.6 µg g−1 fresh fruits) compared to other soil treatments. SS that was amended with biochar increased vitamin C and total phenols in tomato (22 and 27 µg g−1 fresh fruits, respectively) when compared to SS alone (11µg g−1 fresh fruits). Growers and scientists are seeking strategies to increase antioxidants and reduce anti-nutritional compounds, like nitrates in food, while recycling animal waste. The results of this investigation revealed the role of biochar in reducing nitrates and optimizing the nutritional composition of tomato. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Composting and Organic Soil Amendments)
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