Vegetable, fruit and garden waste compost Boutersem, Belgium

Local identifier
gft Boutersem
Years operational
This long-term study addresses five research questions related to vegetable, fruit and garden waste compost: 1. What is the fertilization value (N, P, K, Mg, Ca, Na) of VFG compost for arable crops?, 2. What is the long-term effect of applying VFG compost on chemical soil fertility (N, P, K, Mg, Ca, Na), soil acidity (pH), humus content (%C) and salt concentration ?, 3. What is the effect of the different applications in dose and time of VFG compost on the status, yield and quality of arable crops?, 4. What is the effect of multi-year VFG compost application on soil physical properties?, 5. What is the effect of multi-year VFG waste compost application on soil biological properties?
Data Access Statement
Available to collaborators only
Data license
Don't know
Data policy
Bodemkundige Dienst van België vzw (Soil Service of Belgium)
research organisation
Dr. Ir. Annemie Elsen
principal investigator
Bodemkundige Dienst van België vzw (Soil Service of Belgium)
Ir. Stijn Martens
experiment manager
Bodemkundige Dienst van België vzw (Soil Service of Belgium)
Dr. Ir. Mieke Verbeeck
Bodemkundige Dienst van België vzw (Soil Service of Belgium)

Site: gft Boutersem

farmer field
Geographic location
50.81986, 4.81032
© OpenStreetMap contributors
81 Metres
(Northeast (NE) facing)
Visits permitted?
Soil type
Haplic Luvisol
Climatic type
temperate humid continental climate
Climate description
Cfb, temperate, no dry season, warm summer

Design period: (1997—)

Design Type
Randomized complete block design
Design description
The treatments consist of an unfertilised control treatment, a control treatment with only mineral fertilisation, an unfertilised fallow plot and nine compost treatments, with those in a full-factorial design with 2 factors, i.e., compost dose at three levels (15, 30 en 45 ton/ha) and rate at three levels (yearly, 2-yearly and 3-yearly application). Starting from 1998, in 2 treatments (respectively 45 tonnes VFG/ha 3-yearly and yearly), the plant cover (crop and weeds) was removed in part of the plots (5×5 m²) resulting in 2 x 4 replicated additional fallow mini-plots. Initially, the compost treatments received no mineral nitrogen fertilisation during the first trial years (1997 – 2002). Starting from 2003, the expected amount of nitrogen released by the applied compost during the growing season was supplemented each year with mineral N fertiliser up to the recommended level.
Number of plots
Number of replicates
Number of harvests per year
CropYears grown
winter wheat
sugar beet
Factor name
Factor levels
natural fertilizer exposure
Compost dose.
natural fertilizer exposure
Compost application rate.
soil mineral NSoilmg/kgseveral times per yearnitrate and ammonium, in 3 soil layers (0-30, 30-60, 60-90)
soil organic carbonSoil%annually
yieldAll cropst/haannually
nutrient contentAll cropsannually

Related publications

  • De Clercq, T., Heiling, M., Dercon, G., Resch, C., Aigner, M., Mayer, L., Mao, Y., Elsen, A., Steier, P., Leifeld, J., & Merckx, R. (2015). Predicting soil organic matter stability in agricultural fields through carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 88, 29–38.
  • De Clercq, T., Merckx, R., Elsen, A., & Vandendriessche, H. (2016). Impact of long-term compost amendments on soil fertility, soil organic matter fractions and nitrogen mineralization. Acta Horticulturae, 1146, 79–86.
  • Tits, M., Elsen, A., Bries, J., & Vandendriessche, H. (2014). Short-term and long-term effects of vegetable, fruit and garden waste compost applications in an arable crop rotation in Flanders. Plant and Soil, 376(1), 43–59
  • Panagea, I. S., Berti, A., Čermak, P., Diels, J., Elsen, A., Kusá, H., Piccoli, I., Poesen, J., Stoate, C., Tits, M., Toth, Z., & Wyseure, G. (2021). Soil water retention as affected by management induced changes of soil organic carbon: Analysis of long-term experiments in europe. Land, 10(12).
  • Hannula, S. E., Di Lonardo, D. P., Christensen, B. T., Crotty, F. V., Elsen, A., van Erp, P. J., Hansen, E. M., Rubæk, G. H., Tits, M., Toth, Z., & Termorshuizen, A. J. (2021). Inconsistent effects of agricultural practices on soil fungal communities across 12 European long-term experiments. European Journal of Soil Science, 72(4), 1902–1923.