Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 59–68 | Cite as

Properties of anaerobically digested and composted municipal solid waste assessed by linking soil mesofauna dynamics and nitrogen modelling

  • Thomas LarsenEmail author
  • Jesper Luxhøi
  • Jakob Magid
  • Lars Stoumann Jensen
  • Paul Henning Krogh
Original Paper


We have studied the effect of anaerobically digested (ADMSW) and composted municipal solid waste (CMSW) on mineralization and foodweb dynamics to verify the hypothesis that ADMSW would immobilize N right after addition to soil in contrast to addition with CMSW. Another hypothesis was that the mesofauna (enchytraeids and microarthropods) would stimulate N release from the decomposer community. We measured excretion of \( {\text{NH}}^{{\text{ + }}}_{{\text{4}}} \)-N and urea-N from the mesofauna and hypothesized that enchytraeids would release urea. ADMSW and CMSW were amended to pots with sandy loam and barley. The pots were divided into treatments with or without mesofauna. Mesofauna, plant N and biomass, soil N and ergosterol (fungal biomass) were measured over a 113-day period of four equidistant samplings. Soil respiration, N mineralization and N release by the mesofauna were modelled from concurrent studies. ADMSW- and CMSW-treated soils initially (<20 days) immobilized N. The amendments did not increase plant growth substantially, and this was probably due to N-limitation in the early stages of plant growth. Enchytraeid abundance was about three times higher in ADMSW- than CMSW-treated soils, indicating that ADMSW contained more labile compounds, bacteria, and microfauna. The mesofauna did not affect N-content, but the cumulated \( {\text{NH}}^{{\text{ + }}}_{{\text{4}}} \)-N excreted by the mesofauna was estimated to be substantial and about one-fifth of total plant N in ADMSW. An explanation for this discrepancy might be that in the absence of the mesofauna, other members of the detrivore and microbivore community performed the mesofauna’s function. Neither enchytraeids nor microarthropods excreted urea.


Collembola Enchytraeid Enchytraeidae Mites Acari Ammonia Urea Excretion Barley Folsomia fimetaria Protaphorura armata Mesaphorura macrochaeta Proisotoma minuta Lepidocyrtus cyaneus Sinella curviseta Enchytraeus crypticus Hypoaspis aculeifer Microcosm 



This study was part of the research project “Closing the Rural–Urban Nutrient Cycle (CRUCIAL)” III.3,, supported by the Danish Research Center for Organic Farming, DARCOF. The authors thank the technical staff of the Soil Fauna Laboratory at NERI for their assistance with establishing and maintaining the microcosm experimental system. We are also thankful to the Marine Ecology Laboratory at NERI for analysing the \( {\text{NH}}^{{\text{ + }}}_{{\text{4}}} \) samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Larsen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jesper Luxhøi
    • 1
  • Jakob Magid
    • 1
  • Lars Stoumann Jensen
    • 1
  • Paul Henning Krogh
    • 2
  1. 1.Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility LaboratoryFaculty of Life Sciences, University of CopenhagenThorvaldsensvej 40Denmark
  2. 2.Department of Terrestrial EcologyNational Environmental Research InstituteVejlsøvej 25Denmark

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