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Slow-Release Nitrogen from Composts: The Bulking Agent is More Than Just Fluff

  • D. M. Sullivan
  • S. C. Fransen
  • A. I. Bary
  • C. G. Cogger

Abstract

One of the goals of byproduct co-utilization is to produce products with increased value, and the amount of slow-release nitrogen (N) supplied by composts for plant growth is one component of compost value. To evaluate the effect of bulking agents on the amount of slow-release N derived from composts, we conducted a three-year field trial with a forage-type tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb. ‘A.U. Triumph’). Composts were prepared for the field trial from mixtures of food residuals (vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, and bakery by-products) with three bulking agents. Food residuals (33 g N/kg) were bulked with yard trimmings (11 g N/kg), yard trimmings + mixed waste paper (7 g N/kg), and wood chips + sawdust (1 g N/kg). After mixing, the food residual/bulking agent mixtures were composted in a turned windrow supplied with forced air for 70 days, then cured without forced air for 36 days. At the end of curing, total N concentrations in screened compost (< 11 mm) were 17 g N/kg for yard trimmings, 14 g N/kg for yard trimmings + paper, and 8 g N/kg with wood chips + sawdust bulking agent. For the field trial, 155 Mg/ha of compost was incorporated to a depth of 10 cm in a sandy loam soil. Tall fescue was seeded the day after compost application and was harvested 15 times over a three-year period to measure compost effects on grass yield and N uptake. Composts consistently increased yield and grass N uptake in the second and third year after application, demonstrating their slow-release N value. Cumulative apparent N recovery (ANR) over the three-year trial ranged from 7 to 11 % of the compost total N applied. Cumulative ANR was 282 kg N/ha for yard trimmings, 242 kg N/ha for yard trimmings + paper, and 113 kg N/ha for wood chips + sawdust bulking agent. Replacement of wood chips + sawdust bulking agent with yard trimmings more than doubled compost slow-release N value. Thus, yard trimmings are a valuable feedstock when developing compost products with slow-release N value.

Keywords

Perennial Grass Ammonium Nitrate Wood Chip Tall Fescue Compost Application 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. M. Sullivan
    • 1
  • S. C. Fransen
    • 2
  • A. I. Bary
    • 2
  • C. G. Cogger
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Crop and Soil ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Crop and Soil SciencesWashington State UniversityPuyallupUSA

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