Compost use is increasingly proposed as a sustainable strategy to restore the fertility of degraded agricultural soils and to reduce landfill disposal of organic wastes. The effects of compost application on a variety of soil physico-chemical and biological properties have been widely investigated, but direct and/or indirect relationships among them are far less known. Here we performed a confirmatory path analysis to infer about the causal processes involving compost amendment, soil organic matter content, nutrient concentrations, microbial activity and soil contamination. Path analysis was performed on a dataset derived from a three-year field trial we carried out in a Mediterranean intensive agricultural system, where three doses of certified municipal solid waste compost were annually applied on different plots. The R programming language was used to build a script to test thirteen hypothetical models, against the observed data. Within the above-mentioned dataset, K and Zn available concentrations, microbial respiration and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations were selected as indicative of soil nutrient availability, microbial activity and organic contamination. Our approach highlights that compost amendment directly and indirectly affects all the other variables considered in this study and is the main determinant of the observed trends. The relationships among organic matter, nutrient availabilities, respiration and PAHs are the second most important determinant, followed by the temporal dynamics of each of these variables. Our model contributes to provide an integrated view of the causal processes induced by repeated compost amendments on agricultural soil properties.

Confirmatory path analysis to clarify the effects of compost amendments on soil chemical and biological properties

BELLINO, ALESSANDRO;BALDANTONI, Daniela;IOVIENO, PAOLA;ALFANI, Anna
2013

Abstract

Compost use is increasingly proposed as a sustainable strategy to restore the fertility of degraded agricultural soils and to reduce landfill disposal of organic wastes. The effects of compost application on a variety of soil physico-chemical and biological properties have been widely investigated, but direct and/or indirect relationships among them are far less known. Here we performed a confirmatory path analysis to infer about the causal processes involving compost amendment, soil organic matter content, nutrient concentrations, microbial activity and soil contamination. Path analysis was performed on a dataset derived from a three-year field trial we carried out in a Mediterranean intensive agricultural system, where three doses of certified municipal solid waste compost were annually applied on different plots. The R programming language was used to build a script to test thirteen hypothetical models, against the observed data. Within the above-mentioned dataset, K and Zn available concentrations, microbial respiration and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations were selected as indicative of soil nutrient availability, microbial activity and organic contamination. Our approach highlights that compost amendment directly and indirectly affects all the other variables considered in this study and is the main determinant of the observed trends. The relationships among organic matter, nutrient availabilities, respiration and PAHs are the second most important determinant, followed by the temporal dynamics of each of these variables. Our model contributes to provide an integrated view of the causal processes induced by repeated compost amendments on agricultural soil properties.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4091054
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