Compost supplementation with nutrients and microorganisms in composting process

Waste Manag. 2017 Nov:69:136-153. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.08.012. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


The composting is an aerobic, microorganism-mediated, solid-state fermentation process by which different organic materials are transformed into more stable compounds. The product obtained is the compost, which contributes to the improvement of physical, chemical and microbiological properties of the soil. However, the compost usage in agriculture is constrained because of its long-time action and reduced supply of nutrients to the crops. To enhance the content of nutrients assimilable by the plants in the compost, its supplementation with nutrients and inoculation with microorganisms have been proposed. The objective of this work was to review the state of the art on compost supplementation with nutrients and the role played by the microorganisms involved (or added) in their transformation during the composting process. The phases of composting are briefly compiled and different strategies for supplementation are analyzed. The utilization of nitrogenous materials and addition of microorganisms fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere or oxidizing ammonia into more assimilable for plants nitrogenous forms are analyzed. Several strategies for nitrogen conservation during composting are presented as well. The supplementation with phosphorus and utilization of microorganisms solubilizing phosphorus and potassium are also discussed. Main groups of microorganisms relevant during the composting process are described as well as most important strategies to identify them. In general, the development of this type of nutrient-enriched bio-inputs requires research and development not only in the supplementation of compost itself, but also in the isolation and identification of microorganisms and genes allowing the degradation and conversion of nitrogenous substances and materials containing potassium and phosphorus present in the feedstocks undergoing the composting process. In this sense, most important research trends and strategies to increase nutrient content in the compost are provided in this work.

Keywords: Compost supplementation; Composting; Nitrogen conservation; Nitrogen-transforming microorganisms; Phosphorus solubilization; Potassium solubilization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Composting / methods*
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Phosphorus / analysis
  • Refuse Disposal
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Microbiology*


  • Soil
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen