The objective of this study was to evaluate a variety of maturity indices and heavy metal concentrations in the composting process. A full-scale study was performed on animal manures (dairy:beef:swine = 50%:30%:20%, w/w) mixed with sawdust using a self-screwed turner over a time period of 63 days. Several chemical compost characteristics and germination indices were monitored on samples collected weekly at a prototype composting facility. NH4-N concentrations decreased during the composting time, on the contrary NO3-N concentrations increased sharply after 30 days. As composting proceeded, the humic acids content increased from 1.45% to 2.70% of the organic carbon content, whereas the fulvic acids content decreased gradually. Temperature in the compost pile and concentration of NH3 averaged 32.4 ??C and 12.9 ppm at the initial composting phase and 69.5 ??C and 47.3 ppm at the active bio-oxidation composting phase, respectively. Seed germination and germination index (GI) increased during the composting process, and the compost samples at the end of composting phase had GI values greater than 120. Among the composting processes, there were significant differences (p < 0.05) in concentration of Zn, Cu and Pb in the compost. In conclusion, the suggested maturity parameter values and metal concentrations of composted animal manures can provide better understanding of maturation process of animal manure compost. ?? 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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