1. bookVolume 70 (2022): Issue 1 (March 2022)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1338-4333
First Published
28 Mar 2009
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

Short-term effects of compost amendments to soil on soil structure, hydraulic properties, and water regime

Published Online: 12 Feb 2022
Volume & Issue: Volume 70 (2022) - Issue 1 (March 2022)
Page range: 74 - 88
Received: 06 Jul 2021
Accepted: 22 Dec 2021
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1338-4333
First Published
28 Mar 2009
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

Despite the increasing interest in applying composts as soil amendments worldwide, there is a lack of knowledge on short-term effects of compost amendments on soil structural and hydraulic properties. Our goal was to study the effect of compost and vermicompost-based soil amendments on soil structure, soil water retention characteristics, aggregate stability and plant water use efficiency compared to that of mineral fertilizers and food-waste digestate and examine if these effects are evident within a short time after application. We set up a pot experiment with spring wheat using a sandy and a loamy soil receiving either mineral fertilizer (MF); dewatered digestate from anaerobic digestion of food waste (DG), vermicomposted digestate (VC_DG); sewage sludge-based compost (C_SS) and sewage sludge-based vermicompost (VC_SS). We then monitored and calculated the soil water balance components (irrigation, outflow, evaporation, transpiration, and soil water content). At harvest, we measured shoot biomass, soil texture, bulk density, water retention characteristics and aggregate stability. The irrigation use efficiency (IE) and the plant water use efficiency (WUE) were calculated for each treatment by dividing the transpiration and the dry shoot biomass with the amount of water used for irrigation, respectively. For the sandy soil, we used X-Ray computed tomography to visualise the pore system after applying organic amendments and to derive metrics of the pore-network such as its fractal dimension, imaged macroporosity and critical pore diameter. X-Ray tomography indicated that composting and vermicomposting resulted in more complex and diverse porous system and increased soil macroporosity. The increased fractal dimensions also indicated that compost and vermicompost can contribute to structure formation and stabilization within a short time after their application. Despite the small application rate and short incubation time, the application of organic amendments to the two different soil types resulted in improved soil water holding capacity and water use efficiency. Composting and vermicomposting appeared to have the best effect at reducing the irrigation demand and evaporation losses and increasing the water use efficiency of the plant, likely through their effect on soil structure and the pore-size distribution.

Keywords

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