Recycling nutrient-rich hop leaves by composting with wheat straw and farmyard manure in suitable mixtures uri icon


  • The harvesting of hops (Humulus lupulus L.) generates large amounts of nutrient-rich leaves that can be used in composting mixtures to add value to other organic resources on the farm. In this study, hop leaves were mixed with cow manure and wheat straw in several combinations with the aim of establishing guidelines on how farmers can manage the raw materials and better use these valuable organic resources. The composting process was monitored and the quality of the composts evaluated in relation to the effects on lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) grown in pots over two consecutive cycles. The mixture of hop leaves with cow manure produced a stable compost after nine months of composting which may be used in horticultural crops, irrespective of the proportion of raw materials, due to their low and similar C/N ratios. However, when using mixtures of leaves and straw in proportions of less than 2:1, the composts did not mature properly, showing high C/N ratios. Their application to the soil led to a strong reduction in plant tissue N concentrations, due to biological N immobilization, which significantly reduced lettuce dry matter yield. Thus, to reduce composting time and increase the quality of the compost, the ratio leaves/straw should be as high as possible, at least 2:1. Alternatively, either the composting process should take longer, or the poorly-matured compost be applied far in advance of sowing a crop so that complementary biological processes can take place in the soil, as recorded in the second cycle of lettuce. Ash from hop stems did not benefit the composting process and proved itself not to be worth using in mixtures.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021