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Structural changes of plant residues during decomposition in a compost environment

Dresbøll, Dorte Bodin and Magid, Jakob (2006) Structural changes of plant residues during decomposition in a compost environment. Bioresource Technology (97), pp. 973-981.

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We investigated the actual degradation of plant material during composting by qualitative methods using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) combined with quantitative chemical methods. Decomposition of Mischanthus (Mischanthus oogiformis L.), hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) straw was observed by placing litterbags containing these materials in compost piles. Hemp and Mischanthus straw were more stable than the wheat straw, but the two materials differed in the way they were degraded despite similar chemical composition. Hemp straw was broken down in more flexible structures compared to the rigid breakdown of Mischanthus straw. We concluded that the anatomical arrangement of the tissue is just as an important part of the decomposition rate as the content of recalcitrant compounds. Thus, when using composted plant materials as growing medium the choice of material must depend not only on nutritional quality but also on structural quality. This study indicates that hemp material might be a good structural component in a compost to be used as a growing medium.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:plant residues; decomposition; compost; growing medium; Scanning Electron Microscopy; anatomical arrangement
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Composting and manuring
Research affiliation: Denmark > KU - University of Copenhagen > KU-LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences
Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > I. 1 (ORTCTOM) Organic production of cucumber and tomato
Denmark > SOAR - Research School for Organic Agriculture and Food Systems
Deposited By: Dresbøll, Dorte Bodin
ID Code:3456
Deposited On:30 Sep 2004
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:29
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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