Composted tobacco waste increases the yield and organoleptic quality of leaf mustard
Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) waste is produced in many countries and is phytotoxic due to the alkaloid content; in Vietnam the waste is usually burned causing air pollution. We composted tobacco waste with chicken manure in different proportions—1 t of waste ± accelerant (C1 and C2); 0.8 t of waste + 0.2 t of chicken manure ± accelerant (C3 and C4); and 0.7 t of waste + 0.3 t of chicken manure ± accelerant (C5 and C6)—for 30 d in covered heaps. Three mixtures containing the accelerant (C2, C4, and C6) reached temperatures of ∼55 °C, that 5s, hot enough to suppress disease and weeds. Composting decreased the alkaloid content from ∼6,000 to ∼200 mg kg−1, and C4 with a C/N ratio of 19:1, was used in a field trial. The compost treatments (0, 10, 15, and 20 t ha−1) were combined fertilizer with phosphorus (40 kg ha−1), nitrogen (60 kg ha−1) and potassium (90 kg ha−1) for leaf mustard (Brassica integrifolia). The yield increased from ∼17 to ∼29 t ha−1 with the amount of compost applied, and the nitrate concentration decreased concomitantly from ∼67 to ∼42 mg NO3–N kg−1 fresh weight, presumably due to ongoing composting (nitrogen drawdown). Organoleptic evaluation showed a preference for the crops grown with the compost amendments. Whether remains to be seen whether one‐off compost applications >20 t ha−1 and repeated, large applications provide additional, long‐term production benefits, or if the benefits may be outweighed by the accumulation of persistent, phytotoxic alkaloids.