, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 815–830 | Cite as

Characterization of different compost extracts using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and thermal analysis

  • Teresa Carballo
  • Ma Victoria Gil
  • Xiomar Gómez
  • Fernando González-Andrés
  • Antonio Morán
Original Paper


Compost extract or “compost tea” is a liquid extract of compost obtained by mixing compost and water for a defined period of time. Compost tea contains nutrients and a range of different organisms and is applied to the soil or directly to plants with the principal aim of suppressing certain plant diseases. In addition, the application of compost tea supplies nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Thermal analysis and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) are two widely applied analytical techniques for establishing the stability of compost, and although numerous studies have evaluated the capacity of compost tea to suppress plant diseases, there are no studies employing these techniques to characterize compost-tea. For the present study, 12 compost extracts were produced under varying conditions in a purpose-built reactor. Two different composts, an stable compost produced from manure and an unstable compost produced from municipal solid waste, respectively, two aeration systems (aerated and non-aerated extracts) and three temperatures (10, 20 and 30°C) were used in these experiments. The extracts were freeze-dried and subsequently analysed, together with the two composts, by means of FTIR and thermal analysis. Extracts produced from high stability compost, independently of the conditions of aeration and temperature, showed very similar results. In contrast, differences among extracts produced from the unstable compost were more noticeable. However, the different conditions of aeration and temperature during the production of the extracts only explained partially these differences, since the transformations undergone by compost over the 3 months that the experiments lasted were also reflected in the composition of the extracts. In spite of everything, extraction process favoured the degradation of easily oxidizable organic matter, which was more abundant in unstable compost. This degradation was more intense for non-aerated processes, probably due to the longer duration of these (10 days) with respect to aerated extractions (2 days). The effect of temperature was not clear in these experiments, although high temperatures could increase micro organism activity and consequently favour the degradation of easily oxidizable organic matter.


Compost tea Compost extracts FTIR DTG DTA 



This research was made possible through Project: ENE2005-08881-C02-01, supported by the Education and Science Ministry with ERDF funds.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa Carballo
    • 1
  • Ma Victoria Gil
    • 1
  • Xiomar Gómez
    • 1
  • Fernando González-Andrés
    • 1
  • Antonio Morán
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Natural ResourcesUniversity of LeonLeonSpain

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