Introduction

Many agricultural operations produce waste byproducts. Animal manure is an example of a waste byproduct that can be used as a plant nutrient. Properly managed and utilized agricultural wastes are a natural resource that can produce economic returns. Waste management systems properly planned, designed, installed, and maintained prevent or minimize degradation of soil, water, and air resources while providing chemical elements essential for plant growth.

The objectives of a complete system approach to waste management are to design a system that

• recycles nutrients in quantities that benefit plants,

• builds levels of soil organic matter,

• limits nutrient or harmful contaminant movement to surface and ground water,

• does not contaminate food crops with pathogens or toxic concentrations of metals or organics, and

• provides a method in the soil environment to fix or transform nonessential elements and compounds into harmless forms.

This chapter will provide the reader with an appreciation for the plant's role in management of nutrients in an agricultural waste management system. The function and availability of plant nutrients as they occur in agricultural wastes are discussed, and the effects of trace elements and metals on plants are introduced. General guidance is given so the components of the waste can be converted to plant available form and the nutrients harvested in the crop can be estimated. The impact of excess nutrients, dissolved solids, and trace elements on plants is given in relationship to agricultural waste application.

Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

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