Evolution of organic matter fractions after application of co-compost of sewage sludge with pruning waste to four Mediterranean agricultural soils. A soil microcosm experiment.Waste Manag. 2010 Oct; 30(10):1957-65.WM
The effect of co-compost application from sewage sludge and pruning waste, on quality and quantity of soil organic carbon (SOC) in four Mediterranean agricultural soils (South Spain), was studied in soil microcosm conditions. Control soil samples (no co-compost addition) and soils treated with co-composts to a rate equivalent of 140 Mg ha(-1) were incubated for 90 days at two temperatures: 5 and 35 degrees C. The significances of incubation temperature and the addition of co-compost, on the evolution of the different fractions of SOC, were studied using a 2(3) factorial design. The co-compost amendment increased the amounts of humic fractions: humic acids (HA) (1.9 times), fulvic acids (FA) (3.3 times), humin (1.5 times), as well as the free organic matter (1.4 times) and free lipids (21.8 times). Incubation of the soils enhanced its biological activity mainly in the amended soils and at 35 degrees C, leading to progressive SOC mineralization and humification, concomitant to the preferential accumulation of HA. The incubation results show large differences depending on temperature and soil types. This fact allows us to select suitable organic amendment for the soil when a rapid increase in nutrients through mineralization is preferred, or in cases intending the stabilization and preservation of the SOC through a process of humification. In soils with HA of more than 5 E(4)/E(6) ratio, the incubation temperature increased rates of mineralization and humification, whereas lower temperatures limited the extent of both processes. In these soils the addition of co-compost in spring or summer is the most recommendable. In soils with HA of lower E(4)/E(6) ratio (<5), the higher temperature favoured mineralization but not humification, whereas the low temperature maintained the SOC levels and even increased the HA/FA ratio. In these soils the moment of addition of organic amendment should be decided depending on the effect intended. On the other hand, the lower the SOC content in the original soil, the greater are the changes observed in the SOC after amendment with co-compost. The results suggest that proper recommendations for optimum organic matter evolution after soil amendment is possible after considering a small set of characteristics of soil and the corresponding soil organic matter fractions, in particular HA.