Fertilization of maize with compost from cattle manure supplemented with additional mineral nutrients.Waste Manag 2008; 28(8):1432-40WM
An alternative approach for cattle manure management on intensive livestock farms is the composting process. An industrial-scale composting plant has been set up in northwest Spain for producing compost from cattle manure. Manure composting involved an increase in pH, electrical conductivity (EC), cation exchange capacity (CEC) and NO3(-)--N concentration, and a decrease in temperature, moisture content, organic matter (OM) content, NH4+--N concentration and C/N ratio. Cu, Zn and Ni concentrations increased due to the reduction of pile mass during the composting process. The resulting compost was applied to a field to study the viability of applying this compost combined with a nitrogen mineral fertilizer as a replacement for the mineral fertilization conventionally used for maize (Zea mays L.). The thermophilic phase of the composting process was very prolonged in the time, which may have slowed down the decomposition of the organic matter and reduced the nitrification process, leading to an over-short maturation phase. The humification and respirometric indexes, however, determined immediately after compost application to the soil, showed it to be stable. Compost application did not decrease the grain yield. A year later, soil pH, OM content and CEC were higher with the compost treatment. Total P, K, Ca and Na concentrations in compost-amended plots were higher than in mineral-fertilized ones, and no significant differences between treatments were found in soil concentrations of NH4+--N,NO3- --N, available P, Mg and B. Compost caused no heavy metal pollution into the soil. Therefore, this compost would be a good substitute for the mineral fertilizers generally used for basal dressing in maize growing.