Stability and maturity of biowaste composts derived by small municipalities: Correlation among physical, chemical and biological indices

E. R. Oviedo-Ocaña, P. Torres-Lozada, L. F. Marmolejo-Rebellon, L. V. Hoyos, S. Gonzales, R. Barrena, D. Komilis, A. Sanchez

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36 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Stability and maturity are important criteria to guarantee the quality of a compost that is applied to agriculture or used as amendment in degraded soils. Although different techniques exist to evaluate stability and maturity, the application of laboratory tests in municipalities in developing countries can be limited due to cost and application complexities. In the composting facilities of such places, some classical low cost on-site tests to monitor the composting process are usually implemented; however, such tests do not necessarily clearly identify conditions of stability and maturity. In this article, we have applied and compared results of stability and maturity tests that can be easily employed on site (i.e. temperature, pH, moisture, electrical conductivity [EC], odor and color), and of tests that require more complex laboratory techniques (volatile solids, C/N ratio, self-heating, respirometric index, germination index [GI]). The evaluation of the above was performed in the field scale using 2 piles of biowaste applied compost. The monitoring period was from day 70 to day 190 of the process. Results showed that the low-cost tests traditionally employed to monitor the composting process on-site, such as temperature, color and moisture, do not provide consistent determinations with the more complex laboratory tests used to assess stability (e.g. respiration index, self-heating, volatile solids). In the case of maturity tests (GI, pH, EC), both the on-site tests (pH, EC) and the laboratory test (GI) provided consistent results. Although, stability was indicated for most of the samples, the maturity tests indicated that products were consistently immature. Thus, a stable product is not necessarily mature. Conclusively, the decision on the quality of the compost in the installations located in developing countries requires the simultaneous use of a combination of tests that are performed both in the laboratory and on-site.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-71
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Composting
  • Correlation
  • Low-cost
  • Maturity
  • Stability


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