Producing sufficient food for the growing human population is one of the many causes of soil degradation and water pollution. Mitigating the damage requires sustainable approaches and the goal of this study was to assess the quality of compost (GC compost) produced in Georgia College & State University’s (GCSU) rotary digester. The study was first initiated in GCSU’s greenhouse in Milledgeville, GA, in March 2021, using Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme (cherry tomato). Garden soils were first amended by adding GC compost obtained from a pile roughly 10 months old and averaging 27°C. The garden soil and compost mix (2:1 ratio) was then used to pot 16 established tomato seedlings. For comparison, 15 seedlings were potted in garden soils amended with a commercial compost (peat and organic matter) in the same ratio. A control group of 15 plants potted in unamended garden soils was also included. This manipulation was replicated in a local garden beginning in May 2021 to see how plants performed under field conditions. Measurements including plant height, leaf size, flowering, fruiting, and fruit weight were recorded weekly. Standard soil analyses of before and after soil samples and X-ray florescence analysis of heavy metals were conducted. Results from one-way ANOVA showed that the GC compost treatment produced significantly larger plants and more fruit than both the commercial amendment and control groups in both replications. The commercial compost group of plants performed the worst in both replicates. Potted soil with GC compost contained significantly higher P, Mn, Na, and CEC. Additionally, soil from GC compost treatments in both replicates had significantly lower pH. Our findings demonstrate the potential for GCSU’s compost to provide a sustainable approach to boosting productivity while reducing the amount of landfill-bound waste. For future studies, we would like to test the performance of GCSU’s compost against artificial fertilizers.


GCSU Dept. of Biological & Environmental Sciences

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