The properties of a fresh refuse compost were monitored during a storage period of 16 weeks. Samples of refuse compost were withdrawn at regular intervals and tests on the effects of compost extracts on seed germination and root growth of Brassica chinensis were conducted. The organic carbon, C/N ratio and water extractable NH₃, ethylene oxide and heavy metals decreased, while the total N and total heavy metals increased, during the storage period. The changes in properties were accompanied by a decrease in phytotoxicity, as indicated by the improved seed germination and root growth of B. chinensis. Based on the present results, it is concluded that a period of at least 4 weeks of stabilization of the fresh refuse compost is necessary to ensure a better quality, and lower toxicity, for use as a soil additive.
Root clongation tests using sensitive plant indicators such as B. chinensis are recommended to test the maturity of refuse compost. Copyright © 1985 Published by Elsevier Ltd.