Agricultural use of organic residues offers an attractive method for their safe disposal and a valuable source of organic amendments and nutrients. A field experiment was conducted to investigate the influences of 0, 25, 50 and 100 t/ha spent mushroom compost (SMC), forced aeration compost (FAC) and inorganic fertilizer on soil properties and yield of barley (Hordeum vulgare). The considered soil properties (0-15 cm), after a growing season, included pH, EC, available P, Kjeldahl N, available cations, DTPA extractable elements, soil OC content, and bulk density and grain yield was also determined. Application of organic materials increased organic status of the soil and nutrient content. The effectiveness of the two composts on improving the productivity of the soil varied. SMC produced strongest correlations between soil nutrient levels and plant yield. Neither compost raised soil copper and zinc to levels that were of concern and high application rates decreased iron content. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.