Explore how research indicates soil health is affected by the use of various vegetable crop waste methods.


Soil health is the basis of all crops and feeds, so there are always advancements in soil health research being made. We’ve shared summaries of two research studies from a Growing Produce article. See the details of a third, which studied how different methods of processing vegetable crop wastes impacted soil carbon and nitrogen.

Soil Health and Processing Vegetable Crop Waste


A research team from Belgium and Denmark compared three conservation and valorization methods — co-ensiling, co-composting, and anaerobic co-digestion, all methods of processing vegetable crop waste — for fresh crop residues. The goal was to look for how those different methods would impact soil carbon and nitrogen.

According to the article, “leaving nitrogen-rich vegetable crop residues in the field after harvest may result nitrogen losses during autumn. A better method is to remove the unharvested crop remains and conserve them in order to reuse in the field.” The article maintained that some sort of processing is required to “improve recycling of nutrients.”

Results included:

  • Ensiling: “resulted in highly biodegradable products with a low pH (between 4.2 and 5.2) and more ammonium nitrogen (NH4+N) compared to composts. As a result, there was higher net carbon mineralization, microbial biomass carbon), and a temporary nitrogen immobilization.”
  • Digestates and Composts: “led to lower carbon mineralization rates and microbial biomass carbon. And there was no net nitrogen immobilization nor mineralization. Applying digestates resulted in high mineral nitrogen content and a decrease of the soil pH.”
  • “Short-term N2O losses after soil application were very small for all.”

Read the complete report here: “Co-Ensiling, Co-Composting and Anaerobic Co-Digestion of Vegetable Crop Residues: Product Stability and Effect on Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics.”

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Image courtesy of Alan Levine.