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    In-situ composting is an efficient method for the dispose of crop residues. However, the high organic carbon content and low water-holding capacity of corn (Zea mays L.) straw can easily result in a slow composting process with high nutrient loss. In this study, compressed corn straw blocks was a control (S), straw mixed with earthworm casts (SE), straw mixed with biochar (SB), straw mixed with earthworm casts and biochar (SEB) were treatments to determine their effects on in-situ composting performance. In general, compared with S, the thermophilic period was extended by 14, 13 and 3 days in SE, SB and SEB, respectively, reduced nutrient loss, the water holding porosity of SE and SEB increased by 28.67% and 24.03%. Besides, the bacterial Shannon and Pielou's indices of SEB increased by 9.42% and 9.33%, respectively, and the relative abundance of Acinetobacter was increased in SB and SEB. Amino acid metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism were the most abundant metabolic processes in composts. SEB showed not only the highest cucumber yields, but also the highest OQI. The OQI of the CCSBs was significantly and positively correlated with cucumber yields (P < 0.001). These results indicated that the combination of earthworm casts and biochar was more effective than each single additive during in-situ composting of corn straw blocks, and emphasized that the overall quality of CCSBs played pivotal roles in determining the agronomic performance of CCSBs. In addition, the in-situ composting of corn straw blocks could be used to produce high-quality cultivation substrates. Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


    Wende Zheng, Yongjie Ma, Xiaodong Wang, Xingyi Wang, Jianshe Li, Yongqiang Tian, Xueyan Zhang. Producing high-quality cultivation substrates for cucumber production by in-situ composting of corn straw blocks amended with biochar and earthworm casts. Waste management (New York, N.Y.). 2022 Feb 15;139:179-189

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    PMID: 34973573

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