Compost use is increasingly proposed as a sustainable strategy to restore the fertility of degraded agricultural soils and to reduce landfill disposal or incineration of organic wastes. The effects of compost application on many soil physico-chemical and biological properties, as well as on soil contamination, have been investigated widely, but a model for the ecological interactions among them has never been developed. The aim of the present paper was to provide an integrated view of the causal processes induced by repeated compost amendments on agricultural soil properties. For this purpose, a confirmatory path analysis was performed to enable inferences to be drawn about the causal processes involving compost amendment, soil organic matter content, nutrient concentrations, microbial activity and soil contamination. The path analysis was performed on a dataset derived from a 3-year field trial carried out by the current authors in a Mediterranean intensive agricultural system, where 0, 15, 30 or 45 t/ha of certified compost from municipal solid wastes were annually applied. A script (‘cpa’) was developed using the R programming language and used to test 13 hypothetical models, expressed as directed acyclic graphs, against the observed data. Within the above-mentioned dataset, potassium and zinc available concentrations, microbial respiration and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations were selected as indicative of soil nutrient availability, microbial activity and organic contamination. The applied approach highlights that compost amendment directly influences all the other variables considered in the study and is the main determinant of the observed trends. Other important relationships are those among organic matter, nutrient availabilities, respiration and PAHs, as well as their temporal dynamics.

Compost amendments in agricultural ecosystems: confirmatory path analysis to clarify the effects on soil chemical and biological properties

BELLINO, ALESSANDRO;BALDANTONI, Daniela;IOVIENO, PAOLA;ALFANI, Anna
2015

Abstract

Compost use is increasingly proposed as a sustainable strategy to restore the fertility of degraded agricultural soils and to reduce landfill disposal or incineration of organic wastes. The effects of compost application on many soil physico-chemical and biological properties, as well as on soil contamination, have been investigated widely, but a model for the ecological interactions among them has never been developed. The aim of the present paper was to provide an integrated view of the causal processes induced by repeated compost amendments on agricultural soil properties. For this purpose, a confirmatory path analysis was performed to enable inferences to be drawn about the causal processes involving compost amendment, soil organic matter content, nutrient concentrations, microbial activity and soil contamination. The path analysis was performed on a dataset derived from a 3-year field trial carried out by the current authors in a Mediterranean intensive agricultural system, where 0, 15, 30 or 45 t/ha of certified compost from municipal solid wastes were annually applied. A script (‘cpa’) was developed using the R programming language and used to test 13 hypothetical models, expressed as directed acyclic graphs, against the observed data. Within the above-mentioned dataset, potassium and zinc available concentrations, microbial respiration and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations were selected as indicative of soil nutrient availability, microbial activity and organic contamination. The applied approach highlights that compost amendment directly influences all the other variables considered in the study and is the main determinant of the observed trends. Other important relationships are those among organic matter, nutrient availabilities, respiration and PAHs, as well as their temporal dynamics.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4412053
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 13
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 13
social impact