Mineralization and n fertilizer equivalent value of composts as assessed by tall fescue (festuca arundinacea)

C. Bowden, J. Spargo, G. Evanylo

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16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The capability to determine nitrogen availability of composts is necessary to ensure that such materials will provide sufficient fertilization to the growing crop and cause minimal environmental degradation. A greenhouse study using tall fescue as a bioindicator was used to evaluate nitrogen availability of two biosolids composts, two mixed yard waste-poultry manure composts, and one commercially-processed poultry litter. Five inorganic nitrogen (as NH4NO3-N) treatments applied at 0, 22.5, 45, 67.7, and 90 mg N/kg soil were employed to establish an N calibration curve. Yield, fescue biomass total nitrogen (as total Kjeldahl N (TKN)), and soil TKN and KCl extractable NO3-N and NH4+-N concentrations of the organically amended treatments were compared to the inorganically fertilized treatments to determine amendment N mineralization rates and N fertilizer equivalent values (NFEV). Nitrogen mineralization rates were greatest in the poultry litter (21%) and Panorama yard waste compost (5%) amended pots. The NFEV of these amendments were 49% and 10%, respectively. Wolf Creek biosolids compost and Huck's Hen Blend yard waste compost immobilized N (−5% and 0.18%, respectively), and had percent NFEV of −0.66% and 0.19%, respectively. Rivanna biosolids compost immobilized N (−15%), but the NFEV was 30% due to the relatively high inorganic N content in the amendment. Nitrogen mineralization and NFEV were generally greater in amendments with greater total N concentrations and lower C:N values. The total N concentration and C:N values were less reliable variables in predicting N mineralization and percent NFEV when a significant portion of the total N was in the inorganic form. Nitrogen equivalency value and N mineralization for each amendment increased with time of sampling, indicating the potential for early season N insufficiency to plants fertilized with compost due to lack of synchrony between N mineralization and plant N needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalCompost Science and Utilization
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Soil Science

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