Short-term impact of spent coffee grounds over soil organic matter composition and stability in two contrasted Mediterranean agricultural soils

  • Francisco Comino
  • Ana Cervera-MataEmail author
  • Victor Aranda
  • Juan Manuel Martín-García
  • Gabriel Delgado
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



Spent coffee grounds (SCG) is a biowaste which arouse great interest as soil organic amendment due to the huge amount produced around the world. However, the impact of this residue on soil organic matter (SOM) functionality and stability has been barely studied. Thus, the aim of this work is to study the short-term effects of SCG on the quantity and quality of SOM in two Mediterranean agricultural soils (Vega soil, SV and Red soil, SR) in microcosm conditions.

Materials and methods

The in vitro assay was performed with two fresh SCG doses (2.5 and 10% w/w), two incubation times (30 and 60 days) and two agricultural soils (SV and SR). SOM fractionation to obtain total extractable carbon, humic acids, fulvic acids, humins and hot water soluble carbon (HWSC) was determined. Spectroscopic UV-Vis and Mid-IR, thermogravimetric and simultaneous differential thermal analysis, as well as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), were also applied in this study.

Results and discussion

SCG increased all SOM fractions, especially the levels of more labile SOM (HWSC, increased 600–700%) and total extractable carbon (increased to around 200%). SCG also increased humic acids and fulvic acids around 200%, but the functionality of humic acids was affected by a reduction of the functional groups with more recalcitrant and stable character. The tested soils are different from each other (the SV has a more clayish texture and a higher smectite clay content than the SR) which made the behaviour of these soils different. The degree of incorporation of SCG into the soils structure and the interaction between soil and SCG particles (observed by SEM) affected carbon retention under stable forms, increasing carbon stabilization in SV with respect to SR.


The short-term effect of SCG on SOM composition and functionality demonstrate that this bioresidue could be used as soil organic amendment, being a valuable alternative use of a polluting waste. Soil type is a key factor since it influences the soil-SCG interaction and consequently SOM stability. To deepen the study of those effects, it would be necessary to analyze the long-term effects, field studies and to test in a greater number of soil types.


Carbon stock Organic amendment Soil improvement Waste revalorization 



F. Comino thanks the Universidad de Jaén (Spain) for his Ph.D. fellowship.

Funding information

This work was supported by project AGL2014-53895-R from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and by the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER). PAIDI funded the research groups RNM-127 and FQM-363. Technical support was provided by the Universidad de Jaén and Scientific-Technical Instrumentation Center (Funding by Universidad de Jaén, MINECO, Junta de Andalucía and FEDER).

Compliance with ethical statement

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical and Analytical ChemistryUniversidad de JaénAndalucíaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Facultad de FarmaciaUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Geology, Soil Science SectionUniversidad de JaénAndalucíaSpain

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