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Research article2012Peer reviewed

Potential methods for estimating nitrogen fertilizer value of organic residues

Nyberg, Anna; Stenberg, Bo; Delin, Sofia


New organic fertilizers based on waste products are continually being introduced in agriculture. Their nitrogen (N) fertilizer value of their total N and mineral N content varies widely, creating a demand for standardized laboratory methods. This study evaluated some potential methods for estimating the N fertilizer value of different kinds of organic fertilizers. The methods were evaluated against the N fertilizer value obtained from a ryegrass pot experiment. Fifteen fertilizers were tested, including different kinds of manure, powders from meat, bone, blood and feathers, rapeseed cake, lucerne pellets, sewage sludge, biogas residue, vinasse and mussel compost. Mineral fertilizer equivalents (MFE) were calculated as the fraction of total N (MFE) or organic N (MFEorg) out of total N that has the same availability to plants as inorganic N. Mineral N content (% of total N added with organic residue) after 4 weeks of incubation of soil was correlated to MFE (r2 = 0.78), but was on average 17% lower. Warm water-extractable N, amino acid N and crude fibre analysis all proved to be unsatisfactory as methods for estimating MFE or MFEorg. However, the carbon/nitrogen ratio accurately reflected short-term plant-available N through a negative linear relationship (r2 = 0.83) and would thus be a very useful method for estimating MFE, with MFE decreasing by 5% per unit increase in C/N ratio. The results also indicated that the analysis of near infrared reflectance (NIR) spectra can be an even quicker and cheaper method to estimate MFE of organic residues, but this issue requires further research.


Analytical Methods; fertilizer; manure; nitrogen N; nitrogen uptake; organic wastes

Published in

Soil Use and Management
2012, Volume: 28, number: 3, pages: 283-291

      SLU Authors

      • Sustainable Development Goals

        End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Soil Science
        Agricultural Science

        Publication identifier


        Permanent link to this page (URI)