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Sorbents can tailor nitrogen release from organic wastes to match the uptake capacity of crops

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Chin, A., Schmidt, S., Buckley, S., Pirie, R., Redding, M., Laycock, B., Luckman, P., Batstone, D. J., Robinson, N. and Brackin, R. (2018) Sorbents can tailor nitrogen release from organic wastes to match the uptake capacity of crops. Science of The Total Environment, 645 . pp. 1474-1483. ISSN 0048-9697

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.135

Publisher URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969718326196


Delivering nutrients from mineral or organic fertilizers out of synchrony with crop uptake causes inefficiencies and pollution. We explore methodologies for evaluating sorbents as additives to organic agricultural wastes to retain nitrogen in an exchangeable form and deliver at rates that approximate the uptake capacity of roots. Focussing on ammonium (NH4+) as the main inorganic nitrogen form in the studied wastes (sugarcane mill mud, poultry litter), we tested geo-sorbents and biochar for their ability to retain NH4+. Sorption capacity was ranked palagonite < bentonite, biochar, vermiculite < chabazite, clinoptilolite (5.7 to 24.3 mg NH4+ g−1 sorbent). Sorbent-waste formulations were analysed for sorption capacity, leaching and fluxes of NH4+. Ammonium-sorption capacity broadly translated to sorbent-waste formulations with clinoptilolite conferring the strongest NH4+ attenuation (80%), and palagonite the lowest (7%). A 1:1 ratio of sorbent:waste achieved stronger sorption than a 0.5:1 ratio, and similar sorption as a 1:1.5 ratio. In line with these results, clinoptilolite-amended wastes had the lowest in situ NH4+ fluxes, which exceeded the NH4+ uptake capacity (Imax) of sugarcane and sorghum roots 9 to 84-fold, respectively. Less efficient sorbent-waste formulations and un-amended wastes exceeded Imax of crop roots up to 274-fold. Roots preferentially colonized stronger sorbent-waste formulations and avoided weaker ones, suggesting that lower NH4+ fluxes generate a more favourable growth environment. This study contributes methodologies to identify suitable sorbents to formulate organic wastes as next-generation fertilizers with view of a crop's nutrient physiology. Efficient re-purposing of wastes can improve nutrient use efficiency in agriculture and support the circular nutrient economy.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:Ammonium Circular nutrient economy Microdialysis Nutrient fluxes Organic wastes Sorbents
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural chemistry. Agricultural chemicals
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Fertilisers
Plant culture
Plant culture > Field crops
Live Archive:12 Feb 2019 02:56
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:44

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