Know more

About cookies

What is a "cookie"?

A "cookie" is a piece of information, usually small and identified by a name, which may be sent to your browser by a website you are visiting. Your web browser will store it for a period of time, and send it back to the web server each time you log on again.

Different types of cookies are placed on the sites:

  • Cookies strictly necessary for the proper functioning of the site
  • Cookies deposited by third party sites to improve the interactivity of the site, to collect statistics

Learn more about cookies and how they work

The different types of cookies used on this site

Cookies strictly necessary for the site to function

These cookies allow the main services of the site to function optimally. You can technically block them using your browser settings but your experience on the site may be degraded.

Furthermore, you have the possibility of opposing the use of audience measurement tracers strictly necessary for the functioning and current administration of the website in the cookie management window accessible via the link located in the footer of the site.

Technical cookies

Name of the cookie


Shelf life

CAS and PHP session cookies

Login credentials, session security



Saving your cookie consent choices

12 months

Audience measurement cookies (AT Internet)

Name of the cookie


Shelf life


Trace the visitor's route in order to establish visit statistics.

13 months


Store the anonymous ID of the visitor who starts the first time he visits the site

13 months


Identify the numbers (unique identifiers of a site) seen by the visitor and store the visitor's identifiers.

13 months

About the AT Internet audience measurement tool :

AT Internet's audience measurement tool Analytics is deployed on this site in order to obtain information on visitors' navigation and to improve its use.

The French data protection authority (CNIL) has granted an exemption to AT Internet's Web Analytics cookie. This tool is thus exempt from the collection of the Internet user's consent with regard to the deposit of analytics cookies. However, you can refuse the deposit of these cookies via the cookie management panel.

Good to know:

  • The data collected are not cross-checked with other processing operations
  • The deposited cookie is only used to produce anonymous statistics
  • The cookie does not allow the user's navigation on other sites to be tracked.

Third party cookies to improve the interactivity of the site

This site relies on certain services provided by third parties which allow :

  • to offer interactive content;
  • improve usability and facilitate the sharing of content on social networks;
  • view videos and animated presentations directly on our website;
  • protect form entries from robots;
  • monitor the performance of the site.

These third parties will collect and use your browsing data for their own purposes.

How to accept or reject cookies

When you start browsing an eZpublish site, the appearance of the "cookies" banner allows you to accept or refuse all the cookies we use. This banner will be displayed as long as you have not made a choice, even if you are browsing on another page of the site.

You can change your choices at any time by clicking on the "Cookie Management" link.

You can manage these cookies in your browser. Here are the procedures to follow: Firefox; Chrome; Explorer; Safari; Opera

For more information about the cookies we use, you can contact INRAE's Data Protection Officer by email at or by post at :


24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

Menu Logo Principal logo SOERE PRO Logo CIRAD Logo AnaEE Logo IRD Logo Ouagadougou university

Home page

Increased nitrogen availability in soil after repeated compost applications: Use of the PASTIS model to separate short and long-term effects

Maha Chalhoub (a), Patricia Garnier (a), Yves Coquet (b), Bruno Mary (c), François Lafolie (d), Sabine Houot (a)

Chalhoub & al., 2013
Chalhoub & al., Journal: Soil Biology and Biochemistry Volume 65, October 2013, Pages 144-157

The recycling of urban composts on cropped soils has been shown to restore soil organic matter contents [1]. The related increase of organic nitrogen (N) affects the N dynamics in soil. The progressive release of mineralized N from both soil and compost organic forms makes the assessment of N availability for crops difficult and raises the environmental risks of groundwater contamination related to leaching of an excessive or unbalanced supply of nutrients [2]. To improve the uptake of N by crops and reduce N losses through leaching remains a challenge [3]. The first objective was to investigate how the repeated applications of the composts increased the N availability for crops in soil and to distinguish between the short term direct effect related to the last compost application, and the longer term, related to the repeated previous applications and increased soil organic nitrogen stocks. The second objective was to relate the differences in N availability to the compost organic matter stabilities and chemical characteristics.

Main results

The N availability in composts depends on the stability of their organic matter, thus on compost maturity and on their physico-chemical characteristics. The carbon to nitrogen ratio (C/N) has been discussed as a relevant indicator of compost maturity [4] and has been commonly used to predict N availability. Composts with high C/N ratio (>15) often limit N availability due to immobilization of N in the soil. The N dynamics in soil after compost incorporation can also be affected by environmental conditions (e.g., soil type, climate) and management practices (e.g., rate and frequency of compost application, crop rotation, etc), which makes the comparison of separate experiments difficult. Long-term experiments contribute to a better understanding of the effect of repeated compost applications on N dynamics and N release from accumulated organic matter [5]. Modelling is a powerful tool to understand the complex interactions between agricultural practices and N dynamics in the soil-plant-water system and predict the potential environmental impacts such as N leaching after compost application [6].

Our study investigated the performance of different types of urban composts at increasing soil organic N and N availability for crops. The potential contamination of groundwater through mineral N leaching was also evaluated. The N dynamics after compost application was simulated with the soil-plant model PASTIS (figure 1), based on data from a long-term field trial in which the different urban composts were compared. The use of the PASTIS model made possible the distinction of the N fluxes that would have been impossible to measure at the field scale.

Fig.1 Chalhoub 2013

Figure 1: Schematic overview of the measurements and modelling.

After five applications, total organic N increased in amended soils from 9 to 27% compared to control and the increase of soil organic N corresponded to 32-79% of total N brought by the amendments. The N availability increased in all treatments receiving organic amendments. The N availability in the soils amended with urban composts or manure was predominantly driven by the biodegradability of the organic amendments, their mineral N content and by the cropping conditions. Composts with high biodegradability exhibited higher proportion of N recovery by plants (21% for the municipal solid waste compost) during the year following their application, while more stabilized composts (biowaste compost, co-compost of sludge and green wastes) increased the N availability mainly through the increase of soil organic N content and mineralization after several compost applications (6-8% of the soil organic N increase). Mature composts behaved comparably to farmyard manure (FYM), except that for FYM very little N from the last application was available. Regular compost applications equivalent to 200 kg N ha-1 every other year could increase N availability for crops of 50-70 kg N ha-1 over the 2 years of the crop rotation. However, the most stabilized composts led to a higher crop N recovery but also to potential higher amounts of leached N compared to less mature composts (figure 2).

Fig.2 Chalhoub 2013

Figure 2: Crop N uptake from 5 previous and one last applications of composts and manure. The crop N uptakes were calculated and normalized for rates of amendment applications equivalent to 200 kg N ha-1.


1. Peltre, C., Christensen, B.T., Dragon, S., Icard, C., Kätterer, T., Houot, S., 2012. RothC simulation of soil carbon accumulation in four long-term field experiments with repeated applications of widely different organic amendments. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 52, 49-60.

2. Mamo, M., Rosen, C.J., Halbach, T.R., 1999. Nitrogen availability and leaching from soil amended with municipal solid waste compost. Journal of Environmental Quality 28, 1074-1082.

3. Singh, U., Giller, K.E., Palm, C.A., Ladha, J.K., Breman, H., 2001. Synchronizing N release from organic residues: opportunities for integrated management of N. Scientific World Journal 1, 880-886.

4. Cooperband, L.R., Stone, A.G., Fryda, M.R., Ravet, J.L., 2003. Relating compost measures of stability and maturity to plant growth. Compost Science & Utilization 11, 113-124.

5. Gutser, R., Ebertseder, T., Weber, A., Schraml, M., Schmidhalter, U., 2005. Short-term and residual availability of nitrogen after long-term application of organic amendments on arable land. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 168, 439-446.

6. Bruun, S., Hansen, T.L., Christensen, T.H., Magid, J., Jensen, L.S., 2006. Application of processed organic municipal solid waste on agricultural land - a scenario analysis. Environmental Modeling and Assessment 11, 251-265.


a INRA, UMR ECOSYS (previously EGC, Environnement et Grandes Cultures) INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 78850 Thiverval-Grignon, France

b AgroParisTech, UMR ECOSYS (previously EGC, Environnement et Grandes Cultures)  INRA-AgroParisTech, F-78850 Thiverval Grignon, France

c INRA, US 1158 Agro-Impact, F-02000 Barenton Bugny, France

d INRA, UMR1114 INRA-UAPV EMMAH, F-84914 Avignon, 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. Expertise-Mafor-effluents-boues-et-dechets-organiques#.