Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 2011, Vol.144(1), pp.382-389
The objective of this study was to compare the effects of repeated field applications of three urban compost amendments and one farmyard manure amendment over a 9-year period on aggregate stability in a silty loam soil initially characterized by low clay and initial organic matter contents and poor aggregate stability. Three different aggregate stability tests with increasing disruptive intensities (fast wetting 〉 mechanical breakdown 〉 slow wetting tests) and different disaggregation mechanisms, were used. All of the amendments, which were applied at approximately 4 Mg C ha(-1) every other year, increased the organic carbon content and improved the stability of the aggregates against the disruptive action of water, as determined by each of the stability tests. However, the year-to-year variations in the aggregate stability that related to factors other than the organic inputs were greater than the cumulative increase in aggregate stability relative to the control. The positive effects of the tested amendments on aggregate stability were linked to their contribution to soil organic C contents (r=0.54 for the fast wetting test and r = 0.41-0.42 for the mechanical breakdown and slow wetting tests; p 〈 0.05). The addition of urban composts had a larger positive effect on aggregate stability than farmyard manure at the majority of sampling dates. The addition of biodegradable immature compost, such as municipal solid waste (MSW), improved the aggregate stability through an enhanced resistance to slaking. The addition of mature composts, such as the co-compost of sewage sludge and green wastes (GWS) or biowaste compost (BW), improved the aggregate stability by increasing interparticular cohesion. The MSW compost was the most efficient in improving aggregate stability during the first 6 years of the experiment (average improvements of +22%, +5% and +28% in the fast wetting, mechanical breakdown and slow wetting tests, respectively, compared to the control treatment); this result was likely due to the larger labile organic pool of the MSW compost that was highly effective at stimulating soil microbial activity. After the first 6 years, the two other composts, GWS and BW, became more efficient (average improvements of +25%, +61% and +33% in the fast wetting, mechanical breakdown and slow wetting tests, respectively, compared to the control treatment), which was probably linked to the greater increase in soil organic C contents. Therefore, the application of urban compost to silty soil that is susceptible to water erosion was effective at improving aggregate stability and thus could be used to enhance the resistance of soil to water erosion.
Life Sciences ; Ecology, Environment ; Compost ; Manure ; Long-Term Field Experiment ; Aggregate Stability ; Carbon Content ; Cohesion ; Expérimentation de Longue Durée ; Stabilité ; Agriculture ; Environmental Sciences
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