The effect of compost and vermicompost of yard leaf manure on growth of corn

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African Journal of Agricultural Research Vol. 5(11), pp. 1317-1323, 4 June, 2010 Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJAR ISSN 1991-637X ©2010 Academic Journals Full Length Research Paper The effect of compost and vermicompost of yard leaf manure on growth of corn S. Kalantari*, S. Hatami, M. M. Ardalan, H. A. Alikhani and M. Shorafa Soil Science Department, Faculty of Soil and Water, Tehran University, Iran. Accepted 3 February, 2009 Yard leaf manure vermicompost (V) and comp
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  African Journal of Agricultural Research Vol. 5(11), pp. 1317-1323, 4 June, 2010Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJARISSN 1991-637X ©2010 Academic Journals   Full Length Research Paper  The effect of compost and vermicompost of yard leafmanure on growth of corn S. Kalantari*, S. Hatami, M. M. Ardalan, H. A. Alikhani and M. Shorafa Soil Science Department, Faculty of Soil and Water, Tehran University, Iran. Accepted 3 February, 2009 Yard leaf manure vermicompost (V) and compost (C) of 0,1,3,6 and 9% of pot weight and corn ( Zea mays  L.) seeds were grown in pots. Root and shoot dry matters (DM) were greatest in 1 and 3%vermicompost, respectively. Although a decrease in shoot DM was observed in pots containing 3, 6 and9% compost in comparison with V and control (0%). Macro (N, P, K, Ca, Mg) and micronutrients (Fe, Zn,Cu, Mn) concentrations in the aerial parts of the corn were significantly (P < 0.01) affected by thetreatments. The concentrations of N, P, K, Ca and Mg in the treatments were higher than in control (onlysoil). Fe and Mn concentrations in all treatments were significantly (P < 0.01) higher than control but theconcentration of Cu was not affected by the treatments. Zn concentration in treatments havingvermicompost was lower than in control. Physical properties of soil were affected by the application ofcompost and vermicompost.Key words: Compost, growth of corn, nutrients, physical properties, vermicompost. INTRODUCTION Vermicomposting, or composting with earthworms, is anexcellent technique for recycling food waste in theapartment as well as composting yard wastes in thebackyard (Bowen, 1969). Earthworm castings containabundant essential elements that plants need for healthygrowth (http://www.louisvillehydroponics.com/organic.html). Analysis of earthworm castings revealthat they are richer in nutrients than surrounding soils,often having 3 times more calcium, and several timesmore nitrogen , phosphorus, and potassium(http://www.earthwormvietnam. com/ index.html).Application of both compost and vermicompostdecreased soil bulk density and increased in water-holding capacity of media and this was also significantand proportional to the rate of compost application (Smithet al., 2000). There is a close relationship between thenutrient status of soil and organic matter content.Researches have shown that the addition of farm yard *Corresponding author. E-mail: kalantari.2000@gmail.com.Tel: +98 0912 641 2564. manure raises soil fertility and yields to levels greater than those under synthetic fertilizer treatments. In addition  to directly supplying nutrients from the mineralization oforganic matter, the mechanisms of higher availability ofnutrients with soils of higher organic matter contents aremultiple (Chong, 2005). Orozco et al. (1996) reportedthat, in addition to increased N availability, C, P, K, Caand Mg availability in the casts is also greater than in thestarting feed material. Domiguez et al. (1997) reportedthat solid wastes may be converted into useful productsby composting and/or vermicom-posting. Chaoui et al.(2003) defines vermicomposting as the digestion oforganic materials by earthworms known as casts. Cooket al. (1994) showed that the addition of compost to soilgenerally improves tilth, soil structure, infiltration,drainage, and water-holding capacity. Perz-Murcia et al.(2006) observed significant increases in N, P and Kcontents in cucumber, tomato and strawberry grown inpeat-sewage sludge compost media. Renato et al. (2003)reported that the supply of cattle manure vermicomposthas become a profitable activity for many producers. Thecontents of available P and exchangeable K, Ca and Mgincreased linearly as the vermicompost rates increased,  1318 Afr. J. Agric. Res. Table 1. Chemical properties of compost and vermicompost. Properties Compost Vermicompost pH 7.16 7.72EC (dSm -1 ) 3.65 6.88OC (%) 20.5 17.3Total N (%) 2.42 3.5Total P (%) 0.88 0.71Total K( mgkg -1  ) 653.5 950.5Total Ca (%) 2.9 3.5Total Mg (%) 1.5 2.8Total Fe ( mg kg -1  ) 4467 6045Total Zn ( mg kg -1  ) 115.5 189.5Total Cu ( mg kg -1  ) 59 38Total Mn ( mg kg -1  ) 221.25 344.15C:N 8.47 5.51 regardless of liming. Subler et al. (1998) showed that thebest plant growth responses with all essential mineralnutrients supplied occurred when vermicompostsconstituted a relatively small proportion (10 - 20%) of thetotal volume of container medium mixture. MATERIAL AND METHODSCompost and vermicompost Compost and vermicompost were provided by the biology group ofthe Department of Soil Science Engineering, University of Tehran.The pH was measured in 1:5 (w/v) suspension of compost andvermicompost in de-ionized water (Thomas, 1996) and electricalconductivity in 1:5 (w/v) of H 2 O extract (Rhoades, 1996). Total Nwas measured by the Kjeldahl method. Total organic carboncontent was determined by the Walky and Blank method Nelsonand Sommers (1996), total K by flame photometer and total Ca andMg by the complexometry method. Total Fe, Zn, Mn, and Cu weredetermined by atomic absorption (Wright and Stuezynski, 1996).Selected chemical properties of compost and vermicompost areshown in Table 1. Characterization of soil Selected characteristics of the soil used for the potting mixture weredetermined and are shown in Table 2. The pH and EC in saturatedextract were determined, total N by the regular Kjeldahl method(Miller, 1954). Available P was determined by the Olsen method;available K by flame photometer (Jones, 2001); and available Fe,Mn, Zn and Cu in AB-DTPA entract by atomic absorption (Jones,2001). Determination of potting mixes physical properties Some physical properties of potting mixes used in the study weredetermined; bulk density (BD) by measuring the weight of 100 cm 3  of mixes; particle density (PD) by the pycnometer method (Agnewand Leonard, 2003); total porosity (%) v/v = (1-B.D/P.D) × 100;water holding capacity (WHC) by measuring the water content ofmixes at 1/3 bar potential using a pressure plate apparatus Agnewand Leonard (2003). Greenhouse trial A pot experiment was conducted in the greenhouse at theDepartment of Soil Science Engineering of Tehran University inIran. 5 - 6 corn seeds (single cross 704) were put in 3 kg pots filledwith 4 rates of compost and vermicompost (0, 1, 3, 6 and 9% of potweight). A total of 9 treatments in 3 replicates were used in arandomized complete design. Pots were watered to keep moistureclose to field capacity (FC) level based on pot weight. Plants(shoots and roots) were harvested after 2 months, dried at 65°C for72 h, weighed, ground and sieved through a 40 mm mesh screen(Jones, 2001). Total content of macro and micronutrients (N, P, K,Ca, Mg Fe, Zn, Cu and Mn) in plants (total aerial parts) weredetermined. Data were analyzed by one way ANOVA in a generallinear model, using Duncan’s Multiple Range Test and SASstatistical software.   RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Table 1 shows that compost had a lower pH, EC, P andCu, compared to vermicompost (V) but other solublenutrients were higher in V. The vermicompost containedhigh concentrations of organic material, silt and clay andwas also rich in many soil nutrients such as, nitrogen,sulphur, potash, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, e.t.c.Vermicompost was also rich in growth hormones andvitamins and thus acts as a powerful biocide againstdiseases and nematodes(http://www.tribuneindia.com/20010305/ agro.html).Addition of C and V caused a decrease in bulk andparticle densities and as a result, caused an increase inthe total porosity of potting mixes. The changes weresignificant as compared to the control (Figures 1, 2 and3). Decrease in BD was highest at 9% C and lowest at1% C and 1% V treatments. Hashemimajd et al. (2004)showed that the application of both compost andvermicompost decreased soil bulk density and particledensity. Increase in water-holding capacity of media wasalso significant. The highest increase was observed at9% C and lowest at 1% V treatments (Figure 4). Theanalysis of the physical properties of the potting mixeswas significantly different at the 1% level (Table 2). Theanalysis of shoot and root dry matter production, weresignificant at the 1% level (Table 2). Treatments thatreceived V had significantly greater biomass than thetreatments containing C and control. Very low DMproduction of compost was probably due to lower levelsof available plant N in these treatments (Figures 5 and 6).Nitrogen plays an important role in growth and increaseof plant yields. Lui et al. (1991) reported that earthwormcast amendment has been shown to increase plant dryweight. Atiyeh et al. (2000a) reported that the greatestplant growth responses and largest yields have usuallyoccurred when vermicomposts constituted only a volumeof a greenhouse container medium mixture. The 3%mixing proportion of vermicompost generally produced  Kalantari et al. 1319 Table 2 . Analysis of variance of physical properties of potting mixes, shoot and root dry matter. Dependent variable   Model Error   DF Mean square DF Mean squareBulk density 8 0.098 a 18 0.0021 a  Particle density 8 0.097 a 18 0.0016 a  Porosity 8 37.97 a 18 4.93 a  Waterholding capacity 8 41.52 a 18 0.0027 a  Shoot dry matter 8 10.22 a 18 0.2 a  Root dry matter 8 4.81 a 18 0.15 a   bacdebbccd00.20.40.60.811.21.41.61.8blank1% C 3% C 6% C 9% C 1% V3% V 6%V 9% V Treatment    B   u   l   k   d   e   n   s   i   t   y   (   g .   c   m   -   3    )   Figure 1. The effect of compost and vermicompost on Bulk density; C = compost; V =vermicompost). Means with the same letter are not significantly different. acdedefbbcde00.511.522.53blank1% C 3% C 6% C 9% C 1% V3% V 6%V 9% V Treatment    p   a   r   t   i   c   l   e   d   e   n   s   i   t   y   (   g .   c   m   -   3    )   Figure 2. The effect of compost and vermicompost on particle density; C = compost; V =vermicompost. Means with the same letter are not significantly different.  1320 Afr. J. Agric. Res. ababcbcbcaabbccc05101520253035404550 blank1% C 3% C 6% C 9% C 1% V3% V 6%V 9% V Treatment    T  o   t  a   l   P  o  r  o  s   i   t  y   (   %   Figure 3. The effect of compost and vermicompost on total porosity; C = compost; V =vermicompost. Means with the same letter are not significantly different. bdehacfgi02468101214161820blank1% C 3% C 6% C 9% C 1% V3% V 6%V 9% V Treatment    W  a   t  e  r   h  o   l   d   i  n  g  c  a  p  a  c   i   t  y   (  g   /  g   )   Figure 4. The effect of compost and vermicompost on water holding capacity; C = compost V= vermicompost. Means with the same letter are not significantly different. C=Compost V=Vermicompost dddcbbab c01234567blank 1%V 3%V 6%V 9%V 1%C 3%C 6%C 9%C Treatment    D  r  y  m  a   t   t  e  r  g  r   Figure 5. The effect of compost and vermicompost on plant yield and growth; C = compost; V =vermicompost. Means with the same letter are not significantly different.
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