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Multi-criteria indices to evaluate the effects of repeated organic amendment applications on soil and crop quality

Fiona Obriot (a), Marie Stauffer (a), Yolaine Goubard (a), Nathalie Cheviron (b), Guénola Peres (c), Marie Eden (d), Agathe Revallier (e), Laure Vieublé-Gonod (a), Sabine Houot (a)

Obriot & al., 2016
Obriot & al., Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 232, (2016) , Pages 165-178

Regular applications of exogenous organic matter (EOM) to soil seems to bring lots of benefits for soils (soil fertility, restoring soil organic matter content in intensively managed cultivated soils, contributing to carbon (C) storage in soils [1], improving soil biodiversity and biological activities [2] …). However, negative impacts may occur and have also to be taken into account. Indeed EOM may contain contaminants [3] and EOM application may leads to modification of pH or an excessive input of nutrients. In the present work, the objective was to develop a multi-criteria tool to compare fertilizing practices either based on mineral fertilizers or repeated applications of EOM and considering the positive but also the negative impacts of these practices. The development of 7 different soil and culture quality indices was used to provide a quantitative tool for assessing the overall effects of recycling different types of EOM: soil fertility, soil biodiversity, soil biological activities, soil physical properties, two soil contamination states (considering total and available concentrations of contaminants) and crop quality.         

Main Results

The objective was to develop a multi-criteria tool to compare fertilizing practices either based on mineral fertilizer (CONT + N) or repeated applications of exogenous organic matter (EOM) and considering the positive but also the negative impacts of these practices.

Three urban composts (a municipal solid waste (MSW), a co-compost of sewage sludge and green waste (GWS), and biowaste (BIO)) and a farmyard manure (FYM) have been applied biennially over 14 years. Soils and crops were sampled repeatedly and >100 parameters measured. The development of different quality indices (QI) was used to provide a quantitative tool for assessing the overall effects of recycling different types of EOM. A minimum data set was determined and 7 indices of soil and crop quality were calculated : soil fertility, soil biodiversity, soil biological activities, soil physical properties, soil contamination (“available” and “total”) and crop productivity (figure 1). All QI varied between 0 and 1, 1 being the best score.

Fig.1 Obriot 2016

Figure 1 : Framework used for the development of the 7 quality indices (QI) (adapted from Andrews et al., 2004 and Bhardwaj et al., 2011). λj = squared eigenvectors, fj=selected principal component, Si = normalized indicator scores.

EOM amendments significantly increased soil biodiversity, biological activities and physical properties with intensity generally depending on their characteristics. FYM was the most efficient EOM to improve soil biological properties. EOM application lead to similar yields as mineral fertilizers but grain quality was slightly decreased. Thus, mineral fertilizers remained more efficient at improving crop productivity index (QI = 0.88) than EOM although BIO was not significantly different than CONT + N. All EOM improved soil fertility but only BIO was significantly higher (QI = 0.86). EOM added a range of nutrients but an excess of P (e.g. GWS) can negatively impact the soil fertility index. EOM negatively affected the soil contamination index when considering total concentrations but decreased available fractions and consequently the risks of transfer. BIO was the most efficient EOM for most indices including improving the index of “available” soil contamination. This study demonstrated the positive impact of repeated EOM applications on soil and crop quality in a loamy soil (figure 2).

Fig.2 Obriot 2016

Figure 2: Normalized quality indices (0–1) in the mineral and organic treatments. With BIO = biowaste compost (in red), GWS = co-compost of sewage sludge and green waste (in purple), FYM = farmyard manure (in green), MSW = municipal solid waste compost (in blue), CONT + N = mineral fertilization (in black). (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

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 Biol. Biochem. 52, 49–60. doi:http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.03.023.

2. Garcı’a-Gil, J., Plaza, C., Soler-Rovira, P., Polo, A., 2000. Long-term effects of municipal solid waste compost application on soil enzyme activities and microbial biomass. Soil Biol. Biochem. 32, 1907–1913. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0038-0717(00)00165-6.*

3. Belon, E., Boisson, M., Deportes, I.Z., Eglin, T.K., Feix, I., Bispo, A.O., Galsomies, L., Leblond, S., Guellier, C.R., 2012. An inventory of trace elements inputs to French agricultural soils. Sci. Total Environ. 439, 87–95. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.09.011.

Affiliations

a UMR ECOSYS, INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 78850, Thiverval-Grignon, France

b UMR ECOSYS, INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 78026, Versailles, France

c UMR SAS, INRA, Agrocampus Ouest, 35000 Rennes, France

d Technical University of Munich, Dept. of Geomorphology and Soil Science, D-85354 Freising, Germany

e Veolia Recherche & Innovation, Département Environnement et Santé, 78520 Limay, France