Nitrogen availability and leaching from soil amended with municipal solid waste compost

M. Mamo, C. J. Rosen, T. R. Halbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Beneficial use of municipal solid waste compost depends on identifying a management strategy that supports crop production and protects water quality. Effects of compost and N fertilizer management strategies on corn (Zea mays L.) yield and NO3--N leaching were evaluated in a 3-yr study on a Hubbard loamy sand soil (sandy, mixed, Udorthentic Haploboroll). Two composts were each applied at either 90 Mg ha-1 yr-1 from 1993 to 1995, or at 270 Mg ha-1 in one application in 1993. The compost and non-amended plots were sidedressed annually with N fertilizer as urea at 0, 125, and 250 kg ha-1. Biochemical properties of the compost as well as compost management strongly affected crop response and fate of N. Compost increased grain yield with no significant yield response to N fertilizer with the single compost application in Year 1 and the annual compost application in Year 3. Plant N uptake increased with N fertilizer rate, except in the 270 Mg ha-1 compost treatments in Year 1. Over the 3-yr period, NO3--N leaching with the 270 Mg ha-1 compost application was 1.8 times greater compared to that with the annual application. The estimated N mineralization ranged from 0 to 12% and 3 to 6% in the annual and single compost addition, respectively. Under the conditions of this study, annual compost application with reduced supplemental N fertilizer was the best management strategy to reach optimum crop yield while minimizing NO3--N leaching losses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1074-1082
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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