Quality assessment of composts officially registered as organic fertilisers in Spain

Belén Puyuelo, Joseba S. Arizmendiarrieta, Ignacio Irigoyen, Ramón Plana


Composting of organic wastes is a management strategy linked to circular economy models through the transformation of these wastes into an organic product, compost, which can be used as fertiliser, soil amendment or growing media. However, the concept of ‘compost quality’ is not enough defined to take a technical decision about which is its best use or application. In the last decade, different guidelines and regulations about organic fertilisers have been developed. For instance, in Spain the Fertilisers Regulation categorises compost under five kinds according to the raw materials used - organic amendment compost (OaC), manure compost (MaC), green compost (GrC), vermicompost (VC), ‘alperujo’ compost (AlC) -, and under three quality levels (A, B or C) depending exclusively on the heavy metals content. This work analyses the national database of all composts (307) marketed in Spain, considering the analytical parameters declared, with the objective of proposing a methodology to define a global quality index. For this assessment, two indicators are employed: a fertility indicator, related to the nutrients content, and a clean indicator, related to the heavy metals content. Results show an average compost formulation 2.5:2.5:2.5 (N:P2O5:K2O). MaC and OaC present the highest fertility indicator, whereas VC the lowest. Regarding the clean indicator, GrC, MaC and VC are cleaner than OaC. In the future, this new quality assessment should be completed by including other indicators related to physical and biological characteristic (e.g. porosity, stability/maturity, phytotoxicity) that could determine the most proper use of compost.


compost quality; heavy metals; macronutrients; maturity; fertility indicator; clean indicator

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2019171-13853