Recent Advances in Composting and Other Methods for Improving Soil Environment

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Soil and Plant Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2022) | Viewed by 21109

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Institute of Soil Science and Environmental Protection, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Grunwaldzka 53, 50-357 Wrocław, Poland
Interests: organic matter studies; humification; soil chemistry; organic amendments with particular emphasis on composting process
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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Management, Faculty of Management, Prešov University, Slovakia and National Agriculture and Food Centre, Soil Science and Research Institute, Slovakia
Interests: soil organic carbon/soil organic matter; sequestration of SOC; modelling of SOC; land use/land management changes; humic acid; agricultural soil

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Guest Editor
Institute of Soil Science and Environmental Protection, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Science, Wroclaw, Poland
Interests: composting; soil; sustainable agriculture; humic substances; environment; carbon sequestration; soil conservation; biofertilizers

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Soil management and utilization should result in the maintenance of soil quality, fertility and productivity. In the last decades there has been a growing interest in the use of alternative fertilizers such as composts produced from segregated biodegradable waste or biomass, vermicomposts as well as other organic amendments (e.g., biochar or sewage sludge) in agricultural and horticultural production. At present, biochar, which is rich in carbon and extremely resistant to decomposition, has a special position among soil amendments. In addition to improving chemical, physical and biological soil properties, biochar could be a means of climate mitigation. The application of biochar to the soil can successfully increase carbon sequestration and affect greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to making the immobilization of metals in soils more effective. Soil organic amendments are good sources of stable organic carbon and, due to the presence of good-quality nutrients, can be efficiently used to improve the balance of organic matter, enhance carbon sequestration and stimulate soil biodiversity. Additionally, due to the demand for alternative horticultural substrates in recent years, the concept of their production based on various biomass composts has arisen. Regardless of the type of fertilizer or soil substitutes used, they should improve the production and properties of soils. Therefore, it is necessary to set high quality requirements for products applied to the soil in order to achieve the expected beneficial effects. In particular, the degree of stability and maturity of composts need to be evaluated.

In this Special Issue, we encourage authors to present the latest research results on the use of composts and other various organic amendments improving the quality of the soil environment and enhancing soilless crop production.

Dr. Elżbieta Jamroz
Dr. Gabriela Barancikova
Dr. Jakub Bekier
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • composting
  • vermicomposting
  • organic amendments
  • organic matter stability
  • soil fertility
  • biochar
  • humic substances
  • quality of exogenous organic matter
  • compost maturity
  • soilless crop production

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 1318 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Rabbit-Manure-Derived Biochar Co-Application with Compost on the Availability and Heavy Metal Uptake by Green Leafy Vegetables
by Agnieszka Medyńska-Juraszek, Katarzyna Marcinkowska, Dariusz Gruszka and Kamila Kluczek
Agronomy 2022, 12(10), 2552; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12102552 - 18 Oct 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3589
Abstract
The use of organic amendments to enhance plant growth is increasing due to horticulture activities and vegetable cultivation in urban areas. Consequently, as organic amendments impact heavy metal solubility and plant uptake of unknown contaminants, the risk of human exposure to potentially toxic [...] Read more.
The use of organic amendments to enhance plant growth is increasing due to horticulture activities and vegetable cultivation in urban areas. Consequently, as organic amendments impact heavy metal solubility and plant uptake of unknown contaminants, the risk of human exposure to potentially toxic elements from contaminated soils and compost is increasing. Biochar co-application with compost may reduce the risk-related increased metal uptake by edible plants. To verify this thesis, a greenhouse experiment was established to examine the effects of rabbit-manure-derived biochar (RBC) on Cu, Cr, Cd and Pb uptake by five green leafy vegetables (lettuce—Lactuca sativa L., spinach—Spinacia oleracea L., corn salad—Valerianella locusta L., kale—Brassica oleracea L., mustard greens—Brassica juncea L.) cultivated in compost substrate and soil amended with a 30% (v/w) mix of compost and biochar. The results indicated that the addition of biochar decreased Cu, Cr, Cd and Pb availability in the tested substrates, reducing the uptake of Cd in spinach by 61% and Pb in mustard greens by 73%. The application of RBC also had some adverse effects, such as enhanced accumulation of Cr by kale, lettuce and mustard greens cultivated in compost. Compost co-application with biochar to soil decreased the availability of metals, reducing the content of Pb and Cd in tissues of the tested vegetables, while uptake of Cu and Cr was enhanced in spinach and lettuce by 20%. In conclusion, the application of compost and biochar can be beneficial in improving the quality of urban soil used for horticulture purposes. However, more attention by gardeners should be paid to soil and compost testing in terms of heavy metal contamination and possible adverse effects of organic amendments application for green leafy vegetable cultivation. Full article
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12 pages, 1122 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Agricultural Value of Composts Prepared from Municipal Biowastes in Different Conditions of Composting Process
by Monika Jakubus and Waldemar Spychalski
Agronomy 2022, 12(6), 1438; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12061438 - 16 Jun 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1614
Abstract
The increasing mass of organic waste as well as the assumptions of a circular economy enforce the rational management of this type of waste. One method of recycling is composting, which makes it possible to use waste efficiently as an organic fertilizer. This [...] Read more.
The increasing mass of organic waste as well as the assumptions of a circular economy enforce the rational management of this type of waste. One method of recycling is composting, which makes it possible to use waste efficiently as an organic fertilizer. This paper presents the results of a comparative study of six different composts in terms of their agricultural quality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the bioavailable amounts of metals using single extractions with DTPA solution and to characterize various humic compounds. Particular attention was paid to the amounts of labile carbon (LC), hot water-extractable carbon (HWC), and the quantity and quality of humus substances (HS). Regardless of compost types, they were characterized by a small share of easily decomposable compounds such as fulvic acids (FAs), LC, and HWC, which may indicate the low susceptibility of compost humic substances to microbiological degradation in soil. In general, the bioavailable metal amounts found in the analyzed composts were low; therefore, the tested composts applied to the soil can be considered safe for the environment. Full article
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15 pages, 3728 KiB  
Article
Grocery Waste Compost as an Alternative Hydroponic Growing Medium
by Christina Emmanouela Moschou, Dimitrios M. Papadimitriou, Fenia Galliou, Nikolaos Markakis, Nikolaos Papastefanakis, Georgios Daskalakis, Michael Sabathianakis, Eugenia Stathopoulou, Chryssa Bouki, Ioannis N. Daliakopoulos and Thrassyvoulos Manios
Agronomy 2022, 12(4), 789; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12040789 - 25 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4893
Abstract
Modern hydroponic substrates have contributed significantly to the popularity and progress of hydroponic cultivations worldwide, nevertheless, their development, transportation, and disposal often come at a significant environmental cost. Here we investigate the feasibility of partial to total replacement of conventional organic growing media [...] Read more.
Modern hydroponic substrates have contributed significantly to the popularity and progress of hydroponic cultivations worldwide, nevertheless, their development, transportation, and disposal often come at a significant environmental cost. Here we investigate the feasibility of partial to total replacement of conventional organic growing media constituents, such as cocodust (C), in a 20% perlite (P) and 80% cocodust substrate (hereafter control 8C), with compost from locally sourced grocery waste (W). For this purpose, four treatment mixtures were developed (6C:2W, 4C:4W, 2C:6W, 8W), with the grocery waste-compost fraction ranging from 20 to 80%, respectively (perlite constant at 20%). The new substrates were tested on hydroponic lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. Tanius) cultivation. During the 35-day experiment, lettuce physiology was evaluated using chlorophyll concentration [SPAD], chlorophyll fluorescence [Fv/Fm], number of leaves, and plant growth index. At harvest, the plant yield was evaluated using leaf area [cm2], leaf fresh and dry weight [g], as well as leaf firmness [g]. Results show that substrates with compost led to superior physiology and yield characteristics, with 8W inducing a significant increase in leaf area, chlorophyll concentration, dry weight, and firmness, by 11.6%, 5.4%, 19.8% and 12.8%, respectively, compared to the control treatment 8C. Results indicate that grocery waste-based compost is an excellent sustainable alternative for the soilless cultivation of lettuce. After its use in hydroponic cultivation, substrate material is safe to dispose of or be used as a soil amendment, thus contributing to a circular agro-food economy model. Full article
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14 pages, 1495 KiB  
Article
Soil Enzyme Activity Response under the Amendment of Different Types of Biochar
by Piotr Wojewódzki, Joanna Lemanowicz, Bozena Debska and Samir A. Haddad
Agronomy 2022, 12(3), 569; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12030569 - 24 Feb 2022
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3459
Abstract
Biochar (BC) is a material that finds many applications in agriculture and environmental activities. The aim of the study was to define the influence of biochar produced from various organic materials: mellow compost (MC), stabilized municipal sewage sludge (MSS), pine sawdust (PS), sycamore [...] Read more.
Biochar (BC) is a material that finds many applications in agriculture and environmental activities. The aim of the study was to define the influence of biochar produced from various organic materials: mellow compost (MC), stabilized municipal sewage sludge (MSS), pine sawdust (PS), sycamore sawdust (SS) and oak leaves (OL) on soil enzyme activity, as well as its relations with carbon and nitrogen content. After a 60-day incubation of soil and BC, the activity of dehydrogenases (DEH), catalase (CAT), alkaline (AlP) and acid (AcP) phosphatases was investigated. The basic parameters of soil were also determined: TOC, TN, DOM, pH in H2O, available phosphorus (AP). The highest AP content was obtained in the S + MSS, S + OL and S + MC variants. Enzyme activity was highest in soil with MSS BC, regardless of incubation time. After 60 days, the activity of soil enzymes was inhibited. The obtained results indicate that the response of enzymatic activity to biochar depends on the feedstock material and the incubation time. When using BC as an exogenous matter, it is necessary to determine the TOC/TN ratio. For the very wide range of this parameter, supplemental nitrogen fertilization or mixtures of different biochars should be applied. Full article
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15 pages, 3526 KiB  
Article
Cattle Manure Fermented with Biochar and Humic Substances Improve the Crop Biomass, Microbiological Properties and Nutrient Status of Soil
by Jiri Holatko, Lucie Bielska, Tereza Hammerschmiedt, Jiri Kucerik, Adnan Mustafa, Maja Radziemska, Antonin Kintl, Tivadar Baltazar, Oldrich Latal and Martin Brtnicky
Agronomy 2022, 12(2), 368; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12020368 - 31 Jan 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3970
Abstract
Co-composting of raw manure with other organic sources has recently gained the attention of the scientific community. In the present study, raw manure and manures enriched with humic substances (Humac) or biochar were co-composted to improve their physico-chemical properties. We conducted an experiment [...] Read more.
Co-composting of raw manure with other organic sources has recently gained the attention of the scientific community. In the present study, raw manure and manures enriched with humic substances (Humac) or biochar were co-composted to improve their physico-chemical properties. We conducted an experiment including variants consisting of soil amended with manure (M), manure + Humac (M + H), manure + biochar (M + B), and unamended (control). Soil physico-chemical, biological, and plant properties were assessed altogether. All matured manures differed from each other physico-chemically (nutrient content) and in microbial composition, and hence their effects on the observed parameters. Compared to control, the soil respiration and enzyme activities related to N and P mineralization were enhanced due to the amendment of either manure or enriched manures. The M + H treatment resulted in higher pH of the manures as compared to other treatments, whereas the M + B and M treatments revealed the highest Corg contents of the final product, which was negatively correlated with HA:FA. In the same manner, M + H and M + B were the most prominent treatments, causing higher variations in basal soil respiration. The same treatments resulted in the highest percent increase values of soil enzymes related to C, N, and P, which further show the potential of manure modification as a viable option to boost soil fertility and health. Full article
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16 pages, 853 KiB  
Article
Combining Willow Compost and Peat as Media for Juvenile Tomato Transplant Production
by Katarzyna Adamczewska-Sowińska, Józef Sowiński, Elżbieta Jamroz and Jakub Bekier
Agronomy 2021, 11(10), 2089; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11102089 - 19 Oct 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2452
Abstract
In 2019–2020, a study was conducted to evaluate the suitability of willow composts as a substrate or substrate component in tomato transplant cultivation. In 2019, 4-year-old chopped willow biomass (mostly chips <2 cm long) was formed into four compost prisms: S0—willow compost without [...] Read more.
In 2019–2020, a study was conducted to evaluate the suitability of willow composts as a substrate or substrate component in tomato transplant cultivation. In 2019, 4-year-old chopped willow biomass (mostly chips <2 cm long) was formed into four compost prisms: S0—willow compost without additives; SN—willow compost with the addition of nitrogen; SF—willow compost with the addition of wood-decaying mycelium; and SFN—willow compost with the addition of wood-decaying mycelium and nitrogen. Willow compost was rated as a homogeneous substrate (S0, SN, SF, and SFN) and as a substrate component with peat (P), mixed in willow:peat ratios such as 25:75, 50:50, and 75:25, in the variants S0:P, SN:P, SF:P, and SFN:P. For reference, deacidified peat was used as a homogeneous substrate. The study showed that willow compost could be used as a renewable plant material replacing peat. The best parameters (plant height, leaf span, number of leaves, and especially the highest weight) were found in tomato transplants grown in the SF:P and SFN:P substrates and at a 25:75 ratio. It was found that the addition of nitrogen to the compost, in order to obtain a wide C:N ratio, negatively affected the initial growth of tomato plants. Full article
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