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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Modeling Carbon and Nitrogen Transformations for Adjustment of Compost Application with Nitrogen Uptake by Wheat


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 2, p. 664-675
    Received: Apr 26, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): abartal@volcani.agri.gov.il
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  1. J. Beraudac,
  2. P. Finea,
  3. U. Yermiyahub,
  4. M. Keinana,
  5. R. Rosenberga,
  6. A. Hadasa and
  7. A. Bar-Tal *a
  1. a Department of Soil Chemistry and Plant Nutrition, Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, The Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization, P.O.B. 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
    c Present address: Réseau des Missions Déchets, APCA-Chambres d'Agriculture 9, Avenue George V, F-75008 Paris, France
    b Agricultural Research Organization, Gilat Research Center, D.N. Negev 85280, Israel


Environmentally sound management of the use of composts in agriculture relies on matching the rate of release of available N from compost-amended soils to the crop demand. To develop such management it is necessary to (i) characterize the properties of composts that control their rates of decomposition and release of N and (ii) determine the optimal amount of composts that should be applied annually to wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Carbon and N mineralization were measured under controlled conditions to determine compost decomposition rate parameters, and the NCSOIL model was used to derive the organic wastes parameters that control the rates of N and C transformations in the soil. We also characterized the effect of a drying period to estimate the effects of the dry season on C and N dynamics in the soil. The optimized compost parameters were then used to predict mineral N concentration dynamics in a soil–wheat system after successive annual applications of compost. Sewage sludge compost (SSC) and cattle manure compost (CMC) mineralization characteristics showed similar partitioning into two components of differing ease of decomposition. The labile component accounted for 16 to 20% of total C and 11 to 14% of total N, and it decomposed at a rate of 2.4 × 10−2 d−1, whereas the resistant pool had a decomposition rate constant of 1.2 to 1.4 × 10−4 d−1 The main differences between the two composts resulted from their total C and N and inorganic N contents, which were determined analytically. The long-term effect of a drying period on C and N mineralization was negligible. Use of these optimization results in a simulation of compost mineralization under a wheat crop, with a modified plant-effect version of the NCSOIL model, enabled us to evaluate the effects of the following factors on the C and N dynamics in soil: (i) soil temperature, (ii) mineral N uptake by plants, and (iii) release of very labile organic C in root exudates. This labile organic C enhanced N immobilization following application, and so decreased the N available for uptake by plants.

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