P.J. Stoffella, Z.L. He, S.B. Wilson, M. Ozores-Hampton, N.E. Roe
Worldwide production and utilization of composts have dramatically increased over the past two decades, due to year-round ‘locally’ available feedstocks, more effective and economically viable production systems, continued improvement of commercial compost product(s) for specific horticultural industries, improved horticultural crop quality or yield, and advancements in ‘green’ technology that are more favorable toward the environment. Composts are generated from various combinations of feedstocks such as; yard wastes (YW), biosolids (BS), municipal solid waste (MSW), animal manures, and other biodegradable waste by-products. The physical (moisture content, bulk density, water holding capacity, and particle size), chemical (carbon, macro- and micro-nutrients, pH, soluble salts, cation exchange capacity), and biological properties (microbial biomass) of composts vary widely, based on composition, processing, and maturity.
Commercial compost production systems have varied from inexpensive long-term static piles or windrows, to very costly short-term computerized in-vessel systems. Regardless, these systems have generated quality compost product(s) for an array of horticultural industries. The private or public (municipalities) sectors have utilized the majority of biodegradable wastes for production of compost, and/or recycled materials. This reduction has led to an expanded lifespan of existing private or municipal landfills.
Composts have been used by the citrus, vegetable, ornamental/landscape/ nursery, and turf and golf course industries in subtropical areas of Florida. Soils are generally sandy, infertile, easily leached, and of poor quality. Therefore, substantial quantities of inorganic nutrients are routinely used to produce high-value, high quality crops. Research-based best management practices (BMPs) have incorporated composts as partial substitutes for inorganic nutrients, thereby reducing nutrients, particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P), leaching into ground water or into surface water runoff from vegetable, citrus, or nursery production systems. Application of immature compost between bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) beds not only eliminated the need for chemical weed control in the alleys between the beds, but in the following season, crops were successfully grown on raised beds with the compost that subsequently matured. Compost has been successfully used as a complete or partial substitute for peat in containerized ornamental crop production. Composts, particularly in volumes up to 50%, have resulted in containerized plants with equivalent or higher quality for a variety of herbaceous and woody ornamental species. Although composts have numerous beneficial properties, potential precautions are; heavy metals concentrations, pathogens, weed seeds, and phytotoxicity. The purpose of this review is to provide information on compost utilization methods in subtropical horticultural cropping systems.
Stoffella, P.J., He, Z.L., Wilson, S.B., Ozores-Hampton, M. and Roe, N.E. (2014). COMPOST UTILIZATION IN SUBTROPICAL HORTICULTURAL CROPPING SYSTEMS. Acta Hortic. 1018, 95-108
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2014.1018.7
feedstocks, biodegradable waste, yard waste, biosolids, best management, practices (BMP's), vegetable, fruit, ornamental crops

Acta Horticulturae