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A comparative study of thermally and chemically treated dairy waste: Impacts on soil phosphorus turnover and availability using 33P isotope dilution

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-24, 08:04 authored by Olha KhomenkoOlha Khomenko, Owen Fenton, JAMES J LEAHYJAMES J LEAHY, Karen Daly

Dairy processing sludge (DPS) and DPS-derived secondary products such as struvite, biochar, hydrochar and ash (collectively known as SRUBIAS) are emerging as alternatives to fertilizers produced from mined rock phosphate. However, little is known about how these products affect soil P availability and daily P turnover rates.. A lack of such information prevents precision nutrient management planning using these products out on farms. This study used a novel isotope dilution technique (IPD) with 33P as a tracer to compare P turnover in soils amended with chemically (alum-treated DPS and struvite) and thermally (biochar, hydrochar, ash) treated DPS. Results showed that thermally treated products exhibited poor agronomic performance as P fertilizers, potentially inhibiting P availability when applied to soils. For example, a P deficient soil amended with hydrochar treatment at the highest application rates did not record a build-up of available P to agronomic target values. In ash and biochar treated P deficient soils, available P increased but only with very high application rates of 150 and 80 mg P kg −1. The application of these products as fertilizers could have negative implications for both environmental and agronomic goals. Conversely, chemically treated fertilisers demonstrated better agronomic performance. The same agronomic target value was reached with application rates of only 20 mg P kg −1 soil for DPS and 50 mg P kg −1 soil for struvite. However, the techniques deployed revealed that these products exhibited slower rates of available and exchangeable P build-up when compared with chemical fertilisers. This suggests that these bio-based alternatives require higher application rates or earlier application times compared to conventional chemical fertilizers. Regulations providing advice on P use in agricultural soils need to account for slower P turnover in soils receiving recycled fertilizers. The IPD technique is transferrable to all wastes to examine their performance as fertilizers.


Phosphorus REcovery for FertiLisers frOm dairy processing Waste

European Commission

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Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 326, Part B, 116702



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