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Modelling the long-term effect of urban waste compost applications on carbon and nitrogen dynamics in temperate cropland

P.E. Noirot-Cosson, E. Vaudour, J.M. Gilliot, B. Gabrielle, S. Houot

Noirot-Cosson & al., 2016
Soil Biology and Biochemistry Volume 94, March 2016, Pages 138-153

The recycling in agriculture of Exogenous Organic Matter (EOM) issued from organic waste treatment is a promising way to restore soil organic matter (SOM) content in intensively managed soils. EOM applications to crop fields may also be used as substitute to synthetic fertilizers. These EOM have variable efficiencies at increasing SOC and enhancing N availability, depending especially on their biochemical characteristics and C and N contents [1] and on the pedo-climatic context of their application. The objectives were to study the effect of different EOM applications on C and N dynamics, in order to predict the C storage, the increase in N availability for crops and plant response and finally the N leaching risk by using a mechanistic model.

Main results

Low level of soil organic matter (SOM) in cropped soils has become a worldwide threat for soil sustainability, notably in Europe [2]. Increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) content may contribute to the carbon (C) storage into soils and the mitigation of climate change [3] while improving soil properties, therefore enhanced crop productivity [4]. One strategy to increase SOC is amending soils with exogenous organic matter (EOM) defined as organic residues issued from agriculture (manures, litters, slurries), from urban activities (sewage sludge, bio-waste composts, green waste composts), or from industries [5].

The CERES-EGC mechanistic model was used to simulate the effects of repeated applications of urban waste composts and manure over 13 years on both soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) dynamics in the soil-crop-water-air system of the long-term field experiment QualiAgro (figure 1).

Fig.1 Noirot-Cosson 2016

Figure 1: Schematic overview of the parameterisation methodology. NLR stands for Non-Linear-Regressions. Nmin and Nopt correspond to the minimal and optimal level of mineral fertilisation in the field experiment. PII stands for soil pool II, r and l for resistant and labile EOM pool. C, CN and k, the size, C/N ratio and decomposition rate of these pools, TOC the soil Total Organic Carbon content and CNTOC its associated C/N ratio. Till was set to 0 for field-scale and to 16% for lab-scale simulations.

Several EOMs were considered: farmyard manure, FYM; municipal solid waste compost, MSW; bio-waste compost, BIO; a co-compost of green waste and sewage sludge, GWS. Each EOM application brought the equivalent of 220-400 kg N ha-1. The sub-model NCSOIL was parameterized from C and N mineralization kinetics of EOMs measured during incubations of soil-EOM mixtures in controlled conditions. The simulation correctly reproduced the experimental kinetics. When transposing these parameters into the CERES-EGC model, C storage at the field scale was well simulated (figure 2), together with crop N uptake and yields, as well as soil mineral N contents despite a slight overestimation.

Fig.2 Noirot-Cosson 2016

Figure 2 :  Evolution of Soil Organic Carbon Content (mg C kg-1 soil), simulated (line) and measured (dots) in the different treatments of the Qualiagro field experiment. The rate of C storage i.e. slope of measured trend is expressed in mg C kg-1 yr-1.

The GWS compost generated the highest C storage over the 13 y-period and MSW the lowest with 65% and 36% of the Exogenous Organic Carbon (EOC) applied incorporated into the soil organic C, respectively. The GWS and MSW had the highest potential of N loss because of high mineral N content and a high potential of N mineralization, respectively in contrast to FYM and BIO. MSW had also the highest apparent N use efficiency (48.8%) thanks to a high potential of mineralization (76.3% of organic N applied). The achieved CERES-EGC parameterization offers promising prospects for predicting the effects of a larger panel of EOMs, and for further using this soil-plant-water-atmosphere model to manage EOM application practices at the regional scale in compliance with crop production and environmental aims.

References

1. Peltre, C., Christensen, B.T., Dragon, S., Icard, C., Katterer, T., Houot, S., 2012. RothC simulation of carbon accumulation in soil after repeated application of widely different organic amendments. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 52, 49-60.

2. Ciais, P., Wattenbach, M., Vuichard, N., Smith, P., Piao, S.L., Don, A., Luyssaert, S., Janssens, I.A., Bondeau, A., Dechow, R., Leip, A., Smith, P., Beer, C., Van Der Werf, G.R., Gervois, S., Van Oost, K., Tomelleri, E., Freibauer, A., Schulze, E.D., Carboeurope Synthesis Team, 2010. The European carbon balance. Part 2: croplands. Global Change Biology 16, 1409-1428.

3. Lal, R., Follett, F., Stewart, B.A., Kimble, J.M., 2004b. Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change and advance food security. Soil Science 304, 1623-1627.

4. Lal, R., Griffin, M., Apt, J., Lave, L., Morgan, M., 2004a. Managing soil carbon. Science 304, 393.

5. Marmo, L., Feix, I., Bourmeau, E., Amlinger, F., Bannick, C.G., De Neve, S., Favoino, E., Gendebien, A., Gibert, J., Givelet, M., Leifert, I., Morris, R., Rodriguez Cruz, A., Ruck, F., Siebert, S., Tittarelli, F., 2004. Taskgroup 4 Exogenous Organic Matter. In: Reports of the Technical Working Groups Established under the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection, vol. 3.

Affiliation

UMR ECOSYS, INRA, AgroParisTech, Universit e Paris-Saclay, 78850, Thiverval-Grignon, France

See also

Houot, S., Pons, M.-N., Pradel, M., Caillaud, M.-A., Savini, I., Tibi, A., 2014. Valorisation des matières fertilisantes d'origine résiduaire sur les sols à usage agricole ou forestier. Impacts agronomiques, environnementaux, socio-économiques. Expertise scientifique collective. INRA-CNRS-Irstea. Synthèse. 113 pp. http://institut.inra.fr/Missions/Eclairer-les-decisions/Expertises/Toutes-lesactualites/ Expertise-Mafor-effluents-boues-et-dechets-organiques#.