Nitrogen and phosphorus release from organic wastes and suitability as bio-based fertilizers in a circular economy

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The drive to a more circular economy has created increasing interest in recycling organic wastes as bio-based fertilizers. This study screened 15 different manures, digestates, sludges, composts, industry by-products, and struvites. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) release was compared following addition to soil. Three waste materials were then ‘upgraded’ using heating and pressure (105°C at 220 kPa), alkalinization (pH 10), or sonification to modify N and P release properties, and compared in a second soil incubation. Generally, maximum N release was negatively correlated with the CN ratio of the material (r = −0.6). Composted, dried, or raw organic waste materials released less N (mean of 10.8 ± 0.5%, 45.3 ± 7.2%, and 47.4 ± 3.2% of total N added respectively) than digestates, industry-derived organic fertilizer products, and struvites (mean of 58.2 ± 2.8%, 77.7 ± 6.0%, and 100.0 ± 13.1% of total N added respectively). No analyzed chemical property or processing type could explain differences in P release. No single upgrading treatment consistently increased N or P release. However, for one raw biosolid, heating at a low temperature (105°C) with pressure did increase N release as a percentage of total N added to soil from 30% to 43%.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)701-715
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • biosolid, Compost, digestate, manure, N mineralization, P release, struvite

ID: 193508916