Assessing Soil Nutrient Additions through Different Composting Techniques in Northern Ethiopia
The use of vermi-compost in northern Ethiopia is not a common practice. It is, therefore, important to understand the possible impediments through studying its chemical and biological properties and its extra contribution compared to other composting techniques. Four compost types (vermi-compost, conventional compost, farmers’ compost and community nursery compost) with three replications were used in this study. The farmers’ and community nursery compost samples were collected from different places in Tigray; whereas, the vermi- and conventional composts were prepared at Mekelle University following a standard composting procedure. Six major composting materials were identified in the visited sites from farmers’ and community nursery foremen’s interview. These composting materials were also used for the vermi- and conventional composting. Twelve composite compost samples were taken for analysis of macro- and micro-nutrients. The results of the experiment showed that for all treatments, despite of having high content of total C (5.04 – 10.67%), the C/N ratio (12.19 – 12.22) was low. This suggests that as the C/N ratio is lower than the threshold (< 30), mineralization is faster, nutrients eventually become available and a large amount of N is lost. Soil pH, exchangeable Magnesium (ex.Mg), exchangeable Potassium (ex.P), available Phosphorus (ava.P), and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) showed significant differences among the different composting techniques. Among the selected compost types, ex.Mg, ex.Ca and av.P were higher for vermi-compost. The lowest was recorded in community nursery compost. The use of vermi-compost is, therefore, very helpful in terms of providing beneficial soil nutrients as compared to other compost types.
Keywords: Conventional compost, Vermi-compost, farmers’ compost, Nursery compost, Macro-nutrients, Micro-nutrients.
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