Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems


Springer Netherlands

Publication Date



Compost plays a central role in organic soil fertility plans but is bulky and costly to apply. Determining compost carryover is therefore important for cost-effective soil fertility planning. This study investigated two aspects of nutritive carryover [nitrogen and phosphorus (P)], and an indicator of non-nutritive carryover [soil organic matter (SOM)] to determine the residual effect of a one-time compost application applied at four rates in a corn-squash rotation. Crop yield was measured as an integrated carryover indicator of nutritive and non-nutritive effects. Functional groups of compost and SOM were investigated using FT-IR spectroscopy and soil organic carbon (SOC). While year to year variability was great, compost had a persistent positive effect on crop yields, evident 3 years after application with no reduction in magnitude over time. Soil nitrate was low, and additions of compost at any rate generally did not increase levels beyond the year of application, with the exception of year four. Olsen P was also low, yet was higher in amended soils than in non-amended soils 3 years after application. Pronounced polysaccharide peaks, evident in compost spectra and absent in control soil, were apparent in compost-amended soils 3 years after compost treatment and SOC was greater 2 years afterwards. Compost carryover was most pronounced in year four following the incorporation of a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. These results show that compost can influence nutritive and non-nutritive soil properties many years after incorporation, thereby reinforcing the importance of including compost in organic fertility plans despite the unpredictability of year-to-year response.