Reduced turning frequency and delayed poultry manure addition reduces N loss from sugarcane compost

Sofie Bryndum, R. Muschler, Abebe Nigussie Nigatu, Jakob Magid, Andreas de Neergaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Composting is an effective method to recycle biodegradable waste as soil amendment in smallholder farming systems. Although all essential plant nutrients are found in compost, a substantial amount of nitrogen is lost during composting. This study therefore investigated the potential of reducing N losses by (i) delaying the addition of nitrogen-rich substrates (i.e. poultry manure), and (ii) reducing the turning frequency during composting. Furthermore, we tested the effect of compost application method on nitrogen mineralization. Sugarcane-waste was composted for 54days with addition of poultry manure at the beginning (i.e. early addition) or after 21days of composting (delayed addition). The compost pile was then turned either every three or nine days. Composts were subsequently applied to soil as (i) homogeneously mixed, or (ii) stratified, and incubated for 28days to test the effect of compost application on nitrogen mineralization. The results showed that delayed addition of poultry manure reduced total nitrogen loss by 33% and increased mineral nitrogen content by >200% compared with early addition. Similarly, less frequent turning reduced total N loss by 12% compared with frequent turning. Stratified placement of compost did not enhance N mineralization compared to a homogeneous mixing. Our results suggested that simple modifications of the composting process (i.e. delayed addition and/or turning frequency) could significantly reduce N losses and improve the plant-nutritional value of compost.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Pages (from-to)169-177
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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