Sandy soils, with low productivity, could be improved by compost application to sustain crop production. This study aimed to examine the effect of three compost types (vegetable, fruit and yard waste compost, garden waste compost, and spent mushroom compost) on basic properties of a loamy sand and greenhouse tomato productivity. Disturbed and intact soil samples were taken from a decade-long compost field experiment on loamy sand with three compost types at application rate of 30 m3 ha-1 yr-1 (7.5 ton ha-1 yr-1). The soils were characterized for chemical and physical properties. Tomato was planted in a greenhouse using soil samples from the field and vegetative and yield parameters (plant height, stem diameter, leaf number, and fruit yield), water productivity, and harvest index were evaluated. All compost types significantly increased soil total carbon, total nitrogen, pH, electrical conductivity and significantly decreased bulk density, with no effect on plant available water compared to the control. Fresh and dry fruit weights were significantly increased after compost addition. Plant height, leaf number, stem diameter, and total biomass did not significantly improve after compost addition. Spent mushroom compost had greater effect in improving tomato productivity. A decade-long application of composts on loamy sand improved basic chemical and physical properties which were reflected in increased fruit yield in tomato. Since no negative effect of compost was observed, we suggest that sandy soils may serve as a safe end use option for these composts and potentially support crop growth.
Compost Science and Utilization, 2012, Vol 20, Issue 4, p. 215-221