Effects of pulp mill solids and three composts on early growth of tomatoes.Bioresour Technol 2003; 89(3):297-305BT
Compost has been proposed as a means of simultaneously diverting organic materials from landfills while producing a valuable product that improves tilth, organic matter content and nutrient supply of agricultural soils. Composts manufactured from different source materials may have markedly different properties however, even if they meet all regulatory requirements. We compared the capacity of composts made from three different combinations of organic wastes (horse manure and bedding, mink farm wastes, municipal solid waste (MSW) and sewage sludge) along with clarifier solids from a chemo-thermomechanical pulp mill, to enhance the growth of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) seedlings grown in nutrient-poor organic potting soil. Germination and seedling emergence of tomatoes, cress (Lapidium sativum L.) or radish (Raphanus sativus L.) were tested to assess phytotoxicity of the four amendments. Mink farm compost and horse manure compost stimulated root and shoot growth of tomato seedlings but MSW compost and pulp mill solids were strongly inhibitory. MSW compost and unamended potting soil also inhibited seedling emergence and pulp mill solids produced stunting and deformities in radish and cress seedlings. Both toxic constituents and nutrient imbalances may be responsible for the growth-inhibiting effects of these amendments. Application of pulp mill solids to agricultural soil without composting may lead to deleterious effects on vegetable crops.