The Role of Compost in Stabilizing the Microbiological
and Biochemical Properties of Zinc-Stressed Soil
Received: 21 June 2017 /Accepted: 11 August 2017
The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication
Abstract The progressive development of civilization
and intensive industrialization has contributed to the
global pollution of the natural environment by heavy
metals, especially the soil. Degraded soils generally
contain less organic matter, and thus, their homeostasis
is more often disturbed, which in turn manifests in
changes in biological and physicochemical properties
of the soil. Therefore, new possibilities and solutions for
possible neutralization of these contaminations are
sought, inter alia, through reclamation of degraded land.
At present, the use of additives supporting the reclama-
tion process that exhibit heavy metal-sorbing properties
is becoming increasingly important in soil recovery.
Research was conducted to determine the role of com-
post in stabilizing the microbial and biochemical bal-
ance of the soil due to the significant problem of heavy
metal-contaminated areas. The study was conducted on
loamy sand, to which zinc was applied at the following
doses: 0, 250, 500, 750, 1000, and 1250 mg Zn
DM of soil. Compost was introduced to the appropriate
objects calculated on the basis of organic carbon content
in the amount of 0, 10, and 20 g C
DM of soil.
The study was conducted over a period of 20 weeks,
maintaining soil moisture at 50% capillary water capac-
ity. Zinc significantly modified soil microbiome status.
The abundance of microorganisms and their biological
diversity and the enzymatic activity of the soil were
affected. The negative effects of contaminating zinc
doses were alleviated by the introduction of compost
into the soil. Organic fertilization led to microbial
growth intensification and increased biochemical activ-
ity of the soil already 2 weeks after compost application.
These effects persisted throughout the experiment.
Therefore, it can be stated that the use of compost is
an appropriate method for restoring normal functions of
soil ecosystems contaminated with zinc.
Microorganisms and enzymes
The intense growth of the human population entails the
need to increase agricultural production and crop area.
Therefore, modern agriculture is facing the great chal-
lenge of providing sufficient quantity and quality of
food for humanity. In turn, the increase of urbanization
and the diversity and growth dynamics of contamina-
tions present in the soil environment endanger both crop
yields and their wholesomeness. Particular attention is
paid to the heavy metal contents of the soil due to their
persistence in the environment, as evidenced by works
on the role of trace elements in the soil environment and
their penetration into the trophic chain (Verma and
Dwivedi 2013;Vrščaj et al. 2008; Wyszkowska et al.
2013). Some of these elements are essential for the
correct growth of plants and the functioning of complex
systems of biological processes that could not exist
Water Air Soil Pollut (2017) 228:349
J. Wyszkowska (*)
Department of Microbiology, University of Warmia and Mazury in
Olsztyn, Plac Łódzki 3, 10-727 Olsztyn, Poland