Monitoring the ability of compost to provide sufficient nitrogen to a bell pepper crop under drip irrigation

This project was designed to evaluate inputs of various rates of compost on the yield and nitrogen status of a crop of peppers. The grower-cooperator on this project makes his own compost and, for the last two years, he has applied from three to ten tons of compost (along with other nitrogen inputs such as cover crops, feather meal and sodium nitrate) to provide for the nitrogen need of his pepper crops.

Unfortunately the amount of nitrogen from the compost has not been sufficient to build up his soil to the point were the crop is receiving sufficient nitrogen nutrition. It was hoped that through this project we could determine if it was possible to build up the soil nitrogen levels with compost to provide for the needs of the crop. This project came about as the result of the concern from the growers over the long term effects of the use of sodium nitrate and in addition their concern over ways that they can improve nitrogen fertilizer practices on peppers. This research was initiated by the growers and the growers and the researcher will work together closely in carrying out this project. 


This study was designed to evaluate the effect on the nitrogen status and yield of bell peppers of various rates of compost applied to a commercial bell pepper field. We planned to accomplish the following:

1. Establish a plot where we evaluated various rates of compost applied to a pepper crop for their effectiveness in providing the nitrogen needs of the crop.

2. Monitor the soil and pepper petiole nitrogen levels over the course of the season to evaluate the sufficiency of the applied nitrogen for the crop. Yield evaluations were also conducted.

3. Upon evaluating the yield, soil and tissue evaluations we hoped to better understand the dynamics of compost in building up the soil and providing for the nitrogen needs of a long-season, high-nitrogen demanding vegetable crop, such as bell pepper.