Evaluation of Organic Matter Stability in Wood Compost by Chemical and Thermogravimetric Analysis

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa

2 School of Environmental Sciences and Development, North-West University, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa

3 Potsdam University, Karl-Liebknecht Strasse 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany


This study investigated maturation and stability levels during composting of Quercus robur
(QR) woodchips mixed with different nitrogen sources (horse manure, HM and lake mud, LM) for potential agronomic utilisation. The woodchips were mixed with HM and LM, respectively, at mixing ratios of 1QR:2HM or 1QR:2LM. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse over 100 days. During composting, organic carbon and its fractioning and humification constituents were quantified. In the final compost product, pH, organic matter (OM), cation exchange capacity (CEC) and selected available nutrients were measured. Thermostability of compost, compared with that of soil and compost mixed with charcoal were also quantified. Results showed OM evolution during the composting process with total organic and extractable carbons and humification indices decreasing, while the degree of humification increased. Compost produced from the
1QR:2HM mix resulted in the highest available nutrients, CEC and OM content values in the final product. Thermogravimetric profiles indicated that compost OM thermostability was higher than that in soil and higher for the 1QR:2HM than the 1QR:2LM mix. Application of charcoal revealed no additional stabilising effect of OM in wood compost.