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Tuesday, 17 December 2013 00:00

A new process of organic waste recycling increases the fertility of agricultural soils

Experts of the research group Development of Research Microbiological Techniques for the Improvement of Agricultural soils of the University of Almería (UAL) have identified the key factors that take part into the improvement and control of the process of agricultural residues composting. This technique is commonly used in agriculture to biologically transform organic waste into homogeneous nutrients assimilable by plants.

In the article 'Tracking microbiota and organic matter dynamics During the stages of lignocellulosic waste composting' , published in Bioresource Technology Journal , researchers have described the mechanisms involved in the biodegradation of organic matter, an analysis that allowed us to determine the parameters that contribute more effectively in the composting process. "We have identified the critical steps and the specific ones to this type of waste, as well as the most suitable operation for each of them. Therefore, control is more precise, improving effectiveness and obtaining higher quality compost, "explains this researcher at the University of Almería María José López to Descubre Fundation.

Firstly, the team of experts from the Agrifood Campus of International Excellence (ceiA3) prepared the required amount of vegetal waste to start with the composting trial that took place in the province of Almería. "The process, which lasted for six months, began in our research group’s pilot plant, which has automated controls of the most important parameters involved (temperature, aeration, etc.), explains the researcher. He adds that "At every stage or critical phase of the biodegradation process we collected different samples in which bacteria and fungi were quantified and its effect was analyzed in the transformation of organic matter, thus allowing to identify the key factors."

A sustainable system

The current work focuses on a new approach to the study of the parameters that makes the composting process easier. This is a new process that provides researchers with a new material that will improve physical, chemical and biological characteristic of the soil. "The product obtained from our study is very valuable from an agricultural point of view, as it promotes the safe organic waste recycling generated in agriculture and allow their reintroduction to the system now converted into a high quality fertilizer" says Lopez.

In fact, the results obtained have allowed the team of experts to open new lines of research with the aim of expanding the applicability of the microorganism collected from the composting of several industrial, agrifood and evironnmental processes. "The data allow us to analyze its influence in many areas, such as the treatment of textile materials, biofuels, environmental bioremediation, biological monitoring or improving food, among others," he concludes.

These are results of the project “Design of inoculation composting processes of vegetable waste” and “Biological characterization capabilities present in the micro biota  associated with the composting process”, sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and developed by the Research Group Development of Microbiological Techniques for Improving Agricultural Land Interests, Department of Biology and Geology, University of Almería.

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