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Water and Bromide Dynamics in a Soil Amended with Different Urban Composts

Maha Chalhoub (a), Yves Coquet (b), Pierre Vachier (a)

Chalhoub & al., 2013
Chalhoub & al., (2013), Vadose Zone Journal, 12 (1)

Waste composting creates a relatively low-cost product that can be used in agriculture for agronomic, economic, and environmental advantages [1]. Like other organic amendments, urban waste compost tends to affect soil physical properties [2]. The reported effects of compost amendments on soil hydraulic conductivity and solute transport are poorly documented and sometimes contradictory. Here, we studied the water and bromide (Br-) dynamics in a soil amended with different urban composts.

Main results

Three types of urban waste composts, a biowaste compost (BIO), a municipal solid waste compost (MSW), and a co-compost of green waste and sewage sludge (GWS), were applied once every 2 years on a loamy soil for 10 years. The effects of the three composts on soil water and solute transport were tested. Soil matric head and water content were monitored using tensiometers and time domain reflectometry probes, respectively. A Br− tracerexperiment was also conducted to evaluate the effect of compost application on non sorbing solute transport. Water content measurements showed that the application of composts significantly (P < 0.05) affected soil water content in the plow layer, with average increases of 0.03 cm3 cm−3 for the GWS and MSW compost, and 0.015 cm3 cm−3 for the BIO compost compared with a control without organic amendment. Bromide tracing during the wetting period showed that the application of urban waste composts did not affect the soil’s potential for leaching (figure 1).

fig1 Chalhoub 2013

Figure 1. Bromide concentration profiles for the control (CONT), co-compost of green wastes and sewage sludge (GWS) and biowaste (BIO) compost treatements measured (dots) and simulated (lines) using the convection-dispersion equation (CDE) or the stochastic-convective model (SCM). Both models were fitted on date T1 (13 d after bromide application) and applied to dates T2 (56 d), T3 (99 d), T4 (125 d), and T5 (191 d). Note the increase in bromide concentration at the soil surface at date T5 due to soil evaporation.

The application of composts did reduce soil evaporation during the spring, however, which in turn favored downward Br− migration in the soil. Bromide transport in soil was better described using the stochastic-convective model, where soil dispersivity increases with the traveling distance of bromide, rather than the convective-dispersive model, where soil dispersivity is constant.

Full article: Click here


1. Hargreaves, J.C., M.S. Adl, and P.R. Warman. 2008. A review of the use of composted municipal solid waste in agriculture. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 123:1–14. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2007.07.004

2. Schneider, S., Y. Coquet, P. Vachier, C. Labat, J. Roger-Estrade, P. Benoit, et al. 2009. Effect of urban waste compost application on soil near-saturated hydraulic conductivity. J. Environ. Qual. 38:772–781. doi:10.2134/jeq2008.0098


a) UMR 1091 Environment and Arable Crops, INRA, BP 01, 78850 Thiverval-Grignon, France

b) UMR 1091 Environment and Arable Crops, AgroParisTech BP 01, 78850 Thiverval-Grignon, France

See also

Chalhoub, Maha. 2010. Effect of compost application on soil water transport, nitrogen availability for crop and nitrate leaching. Case of a cultivated loamy soil in the Parisian Bassin. Ph.D. thesis from the University Paris Sud Orsay in Earth Sciences. Defended on October the 4th, 2010. [In French]