Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium uptake by wheat and their distribution in soil following successive, annual compost applications

J Environ Qual. 2004 Sep-Oct;33(5):1855-65. doi: 10.2134/jeq2004.1855.


The overall objective of the present study was to determine the loading limits of composts that should be applied annually to irrigated wheat. We conducted a container experiment in a greenhouse during four years. It included eight treatments: sewage sludge compost (SSC) and cattle manure compost (CMC), each applied annually to a sandy soil, at rates equivalent to 3, 6, and 12 kg m(-2), and two controls, one fertilized and one unfertilized. Total dry matter (DM), grain production, and the amount of N, P, and K taken up by plants increased with increasing compost rate. Nitrogen uptake by the plants of the fertilized control was much higher than by the plants of the highest compost rate. Phosphorus and K uptake by the plants amended with the highest compost rate was much higher than by the fertilized control plants. Inorganic N quantity in the soil increased with increasing compost rate and with successive applications. The net N mineralization during the first year of wheat growth was very low, less than 3.5% of the applied organic N under all compost application rates. The contribution of the organic N mineralization increased during the second and third years. Most of the N increase in the compost treatment was found in the upper layer of 0 to 15 cm, whereas in the fertilized treatment N accumulated from the surface to the bottom of the container, 0 to 55 cm. The successive application of high rates of composts resulted in P and K accumulation in the soil profile.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Fertilizers
  • Nitrogen / pharmacokinetics*
  • Phosphorus / pharmacokinetics*
  • Potassium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Refuse Disposal
  • Soil
  • Triticum / chemistry*


  • Fertilizers
  • Soil
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen
  • Potassium