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Comparison of composted manure and plant based organic fertilizer

Long-term experiment at IBDF Darmstadt (since 1996)

Subject, design, site conditions

with information about fertilization and crop rotation

Animal husbandry is an essential element of biodynamic agriculture. The positive effects of farmyard manure on soil life and soil fertility have been carefully demonstrated in a number of investigations. However, it is unknown whether plant based organic fertilizers have comparable effects in the long run. Thus, important information is lacking to evaluate the feasibility of stockless organic farming in the long run.

Since 1996 this experiment compares plant based organic fertilizers, farmyard manure and inorganic fertilizers in a rotation with 4 crops. The organic treatments are applied both with and without biodynamic preparations. The 7 fertilization treatments are arranged in a randomized block design with 6 replications:

Acronym Fertilization Nitrogen
(kg ha-1 N)
CM1 composted manure and urine 100 
CMBD1 composted manure and urine with all biodynamic preparations 100 
PO plant based organic fertilizer 100 
POBD plant based organic fertilizer with all biodynamic preparations 100 
MIN mineral fertilizer 100 
CM2 composted manure, high rate 170 
CMBD2 composted manure with all biodynamic preparations, high rate 170 

Site conditions:
49° N, 8° E; 100 m above sea level; annual means: 9,5°C and 590 mm precipitation; Eutric Cambisol.

This table shows the cultivated crops and the plant based fertilizers used in all years.

Year Crop Plant based fertilizer
1996 Lupine, L. angustifolius ---
1997 Fallow with vegetation cover --- 
1998 Winter rye  Maltaflor 
1999 Clover grass ley --- 
2000  Spring wheat  Maltaflor 
2001 Potato  Dried legume meal 
2002 Winter rye  Dried legume meal 
2003 Clover grass ley --- 
2004 Spring wheat  Faba bean meal
2005 Potato Faba bean meal
2006  Winter rye Faba bean meal
2007 Red clover ---
2008 Red clover ---




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