Economical and environmental implications of solid waste compost applications to agricultural fields in Punjab, Pakistan

M. Akram Qazi, M. Akram, N. Ahmad, Janick F. Artiola, M. Tuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Application of municipal solid waste compost (MSWC) to agricultural soils is becoming an increasingly important global practice to enhance and sustain soil organic matter (SOM) and fertility levels. Potential risks associated with heavy metals and phosphorus accumulations in surface soils may be minimized with integrated nutrient management strategies that utilize MSWC together with mineral fertilizers. To explore the economic feasibility of MSWC applications, nutrient management plans were developed for rice-wheat and cotton-wheat cropping systems within the Punjab region of Pakistan. Three-year field trials were conducted to measure yields and to determine the economic benefits using three management strategies and two nutrient doses. Management strategies included the application of mineral fertilizers as the sole nutrient source and application of mineral fertilizers in combination with MSWC with and without pesticide/herbicide treatments. Fertilizer doses were either based on standard N, P and K recommendations or on measured site-specific soil plant available phosphorus (PAP) levels. It was found that combining MSWC and mineral fertilizer applications based on site-specific PAP levels with the use of pesticides and herbicides is an economically and environmentally viable management strategy. Results show that incorporation of MSWC improved soil physical properties such as bulk density and penetration resistance. The PAP levels in the surface layer increased by the end of the trials relative to the initial status. No potential risks of heavy metal (Zn, Cd, Cr, Pb and Ni) accumulation were observed. Treatments comprised of MSWC and mineral fertilizer adjusted to site-specific PAP levels and with common pest management showed highest cumulative yields. A basic economic analysis revealed a significantly higher cumulative net profit and value-to-cost ratio (VCR) for all site-specific doses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2437-2445
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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