Maturity test for composts: Verification of a test scheme for assessing maturity

Merja Itävaara (Corresponding Author), Minna Vikman, Liisa Maunuksela, A. Vuorinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Increased recycling of organic wastes has raised concern about the quality of compost end products. In addition to the limit values for heavy metals and impurities including weeds and pathogens, the quality criteria for compost products should also include criteria for maturity. There is a tremendous number of maturity assays, developed earlier by several authors, and recommended to be used to evaluate maturity of composts. Because no such single test alone reliably demonstrates the complex properties occurring during maturization of compost, we developed a fast and easy-to-use two-phase test scheme for the assessment of maturity. In the first phase the degradation phase e.g. stability of compost samples is evaluated by using a carbon dioxide evolution test and/or determination of the NO3-N/NH4-N ratio by simple test strips. In the second phase, the toxicity of the compost is evaluated by a plant growth test, germination tests and/or the Flash bioluminescence test. Eleven plants composting sewage sludge, source-separated biowaste, manure or a combination of these raw materials were sampled after 1-3 weeks of composting and when the compost was considered “ready for use”. Chemical and physical analyses were considered useful as additional information when evaluating maturity especially when the results were not conclusively clear. This fast and easy-to-use test scheme was designed especially for the composting plant operators and official laboratories responsible for evaluating compost quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-183
JournalCompost Science and Utilization
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • composting
  • maturity
  • ecotoxicity


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