Special Issue "Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 August 2015).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Stephen R. Smith
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.
Interests: agricultural utilisation; biosolids; biowaste; fertiliser value; environmental impact; human health
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agricultural recycling of organic wastes (including the residuals from municipal or industrial biodegradable waste treatment and biosolids from municipal wastewater treatment) enables the beneficial recovery of essential plant nutrients to maintain agronomic productivity, and of organic matter, to improve soil physico-chemical properties. As nutrient sources, these materials provide effective fertilizer replacements, and their agricultural utilization contributes to the development of a circular economy for nutrients. For instance, recycling organic wastes in agriculture conserves finite phosphate resources and the embodied energy from industrial nitrogen fixation, thus supporting the goal of sustainable food production. Organic wastes, such as waste wood and paper sludge, also provide alternative types of livestock bedding. The agricultural uses of municipal and industrial wastes are regulated to protect human health and the environment. Source-separated materials may be eligible for end-of-waste status if they meet recognized quality criteria, in which case they become fully recovered products. In some jurisdictions, however, treated residuals derived from mixed waste streams, such as compost or digestates from mechanically segregated biodegradable municipal solid waste, may be considered unsuitable for end-of-waste status or for agricultural use altogether due to quality concerns, despite them potentially achieving relatively similar standards. Without a sound scientific rationale, policy development to agricultural recycling becomes confused and illogical, restricting the opportunities for beneficial use. Understanding the fundamental agronomic properties of different types of organic waste materials applied to land is essential for the development of appropriate fertilizer guidance and best management practices. These need to consider not only phosphate losses and nitrate leaching, but also the relationships between waste and soil properties and possible denitrification mechanisms and nitrous oxide production as a potential greenhouse gas emission source. The survival of infectious microorganisms, the consequences for the food chain and the environment of the long-term accumulation of potential toxic elements in soil and of organic contaminants in organic residuals, and potential odor emissions, are further important challenges to agricultural recycling. However, these can also be managed and addressed by sound scientific understanding.

This Special Issue invites contributions from authors of original research or review articles on any aspect of agricultural recycling of organic wastes, including, for example, fertilizer use efficiency, nutrient transformations and transport, denitrification, best management practices, effects on soil physical properties, crop production and quality, potentially toxic elements, organic contaminants, microbial pathogens, odour control, livestock bedding materials and environmental risk assessment.

Stephen R Smith
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


Keywords

  • biowaste
  • biosolids
  • nutrients
  • fertilizer value
  • soil quality
  • organic matter
  • pathogens
  • potentially toxic elements
  • organic contaminants
  • plant uptake
  • food chain
  • nitrogen
  • phosphorus
  • odour
  • denitrification
  • nitrous oxide
  • livestock bedding

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Tackling Uncertainty through Business Plan Analysis—A Case Study on Citrus Waste Valorisation in the South of Italy
Agriculture 2016, 6(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture6010005 - 19 Jan 2016
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3440
Abstract
The paper addresses issues related to the citrus waste valorisation process and its inherent uncertainties from the perspective of a new and innovative firm. Thus, we investigate the relevance/role of a business plan analysis in developing a new business (new biobased value chains) [...] Read more.
The paper addresses issues related to the citrus waste valorisation process and its inherent uncertainties from the perspective of a new and innovative firm. Thus, we investigate the relevance/role of a business plan analysis in developing a new business (new biobased value chains) in the case of citrus waste valorisation. We look primarily at the inherent uncertainty associated with the start-up phase of a new business aimed at producing and wholesaling semi-finished products derived from the recovery of citrus waste in southern Italy. In order to do so, we use a qualitative case study approach focusing on a small citrus waste valorisation firm located in Calabria, using Agro Management Development (AMD) as a unit of analysis. The choice of this research setting is not random, given the fact that many companies from the Mediterranean are trying to engage in activities to valorise citrus waste deriving from production value chains. The main findings of our analysis can be summarized as follows: (i) focusing primarily on one area of uncertainty (i.e., market uncertainty) might undermine chances of success, as it could indicate an incomplete business strategy to stakeholders, hence hindering their willingness to commit to a new entrepreneurial initiative; (ii) although a business plan could be an effective way to narrow down uncertainty for a new innovative firm, it should be properly customised in order to address all relevant dimensions of uncertainty. Indeed, an insufficiently developed plan might be counterproductive, revealing (for instance, to possible investors) an inadequate strategy for facing and solving emerging problems, therefore putting the whole business project at risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Relationship between Mineral Soil Surface Area and the Biological Degradation of Biosolids Added to Soil
Agriculture 2016, 6(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture6010001 - 25 Dec 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2840
Abstract
Geochemical and biological processes that operate in the soil matrix and on the soil surface are important to the degradation of biosolids in soil. Due to the large surface area of soils it is assumed that the microbial ecology is associated with mineral [...] Read more.
Geochemical and biological processes that operate in the soil matrix and on the soil surface are important to the degradation of biosolids in soil. Due to the large surface area of soils it is assumed that the microbial ecology is associated with mineral soil surface area. The total mineral surface areas were determined for soils from eight different fields selected from a long term study (1972–2006) of annual biosolids application to 41 fields in central Illinois varying in size from 3.6 to 66 ha. The surface areas for the soils varied from 1 to 9 m2/g of soil. The biological degradation rates for the eight soils were determined using a biological degradation rate model (DRM) and varied from 0.02 to 0.20/year−1. Regression analysis revealed that the degradation rate was positively associated with mineral soil surface area (1 m2/g produces 0.018 year−1 increase in the degradation rate). The annual soil sequestration rate was calculated to increase from 1% to 6% when the soil total surface area increased from 1 to 9 m2/g of soil. Therefore, land application of biosolids is an effective way to enhance carbon sequestration in soils and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Organic Contaminant Content and Physico-Chemical Characteristics of Waste Materials Recycled in Agriculture
Agriculture 2015, 5(4), 1289-1328; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5041289 - 17 Dec 2015
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3672
Abstract
A range of wastes representative of materials currently applied, or with future potential to be applied, to agricultural land in the UK as fertilisers and soil improvers or used as animal bedding in livestock production, were investigated. In addition to full physico-chemical characterization, [...] Read more.
A range of wastes representative of materials currently applied, or with future potential to be applied, to agricultural land in the UK as fertilisers and soil improvers or used as animal bedding in livestock production, were investigated. In addition to full physico-chemical characterization, the materials were analysed for a suite of priority organic contaminants. In general, contaminants were present at relatively low concentrations. For example, for biosolids and compost-like-output (CLO), concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were approximately 1−10 and 5–50 times lower, respectively, than various proposed or implemented European limit values for these contaminants in biosolids or composts applied to agricultural land. However, the technical basis for these limits may require re-evaluation in some cases. Polybrominated, and mixed halogenated, dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans are not currently considered in risk assessments of dioxins and dioxin-like chemicals, but were detected at relatively high concentrations compared with PCDD/Fs in the biosolids and CLOs and their potential contribution to the overall toxic equivalency is assessed. Other ‘emerging’ contaminants, such as organophosphate flame retardants, were detected in several of the waste materials, and their potential significance is discussed. The study is part of a wider research programme that will provide evidence that is expected to improve confidence in the use of waste-derived materials in agriculture and to establish guidelines to protect the food chain where necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
Open AccessArticle
Effects of Olive Mill Wastewater on Soil Microarthropods and Soil Chemistry in Two Different Cultivation Scenarios in Israel and Palestinian Territories
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 857-878; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030857 - 18 Sep 2015
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3344
Abstract
Although olive mill wastewater (OMW) is often applied onto soil and is known to be phytotoxic, its impact on soil fauna is still unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate how OMW spreading in olive orchards affects Oribatida and Collembola communities, [...] Read more.
Although olive mill wastewater (OMW) is often applied onto soil and is known to be phytotoxic, its impact on soil fauna is still unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate how OMW spreading in olive orchards affects Oribatida and Collembola communities, physicochemical soil properties and their interdependency. For this, we treated plots in two study sites (Gilat, Bait Reema) with OMW. Among others, the sites differed in irrigation practice, soil type and climate. We observed that soil acidity and water repellency developed to a lower extent in Gilat than in Bait Reema. This may be explained by irrigation-induced dilution and leaching of OMW compounds in Gilat. In Bait Reema, OMW application suppressed emergence of Oribatida and induced a community shift, but the abundance of Collembola increased in OMW and water-treated plots. In Gilat, Oribatida abundance increased after OMW application. The effects of OMW application on soil biota result from an interaction between stimulation of biological activity and suppression of sensitive species by toxic compounds. Environmental and management conditions are relevant for the degree and persistence of the effects. Moreover, this study underlines the need for detailed research on the ecotoxicological effects of OMW at different application rates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Organic Cultivation of Tomato in India with Recycled Slaughterhouse Wastes: Evaluation of Fertilizer and Fruit Safety
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 826-856; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030826 - 16 Sep 2015
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3181
Abstract
Environmental and health safety of recycled slaughterhouse wastes-derived fertilizer and the produce obtained through its application is not well understood. Waste bovine blood and rumen digesta were mixed, cooked and sun-dried to obtain bovine-blood-and-rumen-digesta-mixture (BBRDM, NPK 30.36:1:5.75). 1.26 ± 0.18 log CFU mL [...] Read more.
Environmental and health safety of recycled slaughterhouse wastes-derived fertilizer and the produce obtained through its application is not well understood. Waste bovine blood and rumen digesta were mixed, cooked and sun-dried to obtain bovine-blood-and-rumen-digesta-mixture (BBRDM, NPK 30.36:1:5.75). 1.26 ± 0.18 log CFU mL−1 fecal coliforms were recovered in BBRDM. E. coli O157:H7, Mycobacteria, Clostridium sp., Salmonella sp., Bacillus sp. and Brucella sp. were absent. No re-growth of pathogens was observed after 60 days storage in sealed bags and in the open. However, prions and viruses were not evaluated. Heavy metals (Pb, Cr, Cd, Cu, Zn, As, Ni, Mn) concentrations in BBRDM were within internationally permissible limits. BBRDM was applied for field cultivation of tomato during 2012–2013 and 2013–2014. Lycopene and nitrate contents of BBRDM-grown tomatoes were higher than Diammonium phosphate (DAP) + potash-grown tomatoes because BBRDM supplied 2.5 times more the amount of nitrogen than DAP (NPK 18:46:0) + potash (NPK 0:0:44). Heavy metals and nitrate/nitrite concentrations in tomatoes were within internationally acceptable limits. BBRDM-grown tomatoes showed no mutagenic activity in the Ames test. Sub-acute toxicity tests on Wistar rats fed with BBRDM-grown tomatoes did not show adverse clinical picture. Thus, no immediate environmental or health risks associated with BBRDM and the tomatoes produced were identified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Additives and Fuel Blending on Emissions and Ash-Related Problems from Small-Scale Combustion of Reed Canary Grass
Agriculture 2015, 5(3), 561-576; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5030561 - 24 Jul 2015
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 3219
Abstract
Agricultural producers are interested in using biomass available on farms to substitute fossil fuels for heat production. However, energy crops like reed canary grass contain high nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), potassium (K) and other ash-forming elements which lead to increased emissions of gases [...] Read more.
Agricultural producers are interested in using biomass available on farms to substitute fossil fuels for heat production. However, energy crops like reed canary grass contain high nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), potassium (K) and other ash-forming elements which lead to increased emissions of gases and particulate matter (PM) and ash-related operational problems (e.g., melting) during combustion. To address these problematic behaviors, reed canary grass was blended with wood (50 wt%) and fuel additives (3 wt%) such as aluminum silicates (sewage sludge), calcium (limestone) and sulfur (lignosulfonate) based additives. When burned in a top-feed pellet boiler (29 kW), the four blends resulted in a 17%–29% decrease of PM concentrations compared to pure reed canary grass probably because of a reduction of K release to flue gas. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions varied according to fuel N and S contents. This explains the lower NOx and SO2 levels obtained with wood based products and the higher SO2 generation with the grass/lignosulfonate blend. The proportion of clinkers found in combustion ash was greatly lessened (27%–98%) with the use of additives, except for lignosulfonate. The positive effects of some additives may allow agricultural fuels to become viable alternatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Fermented Apple Pomace as a Feed Additive to Enhance Growth Performance of Growing Pigs and Its Effects on Emissions
Agriculture 2015, 5(2), 313-329; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5020313 - 08 Jun 2015
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3262
Abstract
Apple pomace is a by-product from the apple processing industry and can be used for the production of many value-added compounds such as enzymes, proteins, and nutraceuticals, among others. An investigation was carried out to study the improvement in the protein content in [...] Read more.
Apple pomace is a by-product from the apple processing industry and can be used for the production of many value-added compounds such as enzymes, proteins, and nutraceuticals, among others. An investigation was carried out to study the improvement in the protein content in apple pomace by solid-state fermentation using the fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium by tray fermentation method. The effect of this protein in terms of how it enriched apple pomace as animal feed for pigs has also been studied. There was a 36% increase in protein content in the experimental diet with 5% w/w fermented apple pomace. The efficiency of conversion of ingested food was increased from 43.5 ± 2.5 to 83.1 ± 4.4 in the control group and the efficiency of conversion of feed increased from 55.4 ± 4.5 to 92.1 ± 3.6 in the experimental group during the animal feed experiment. Similarly, the effect of a protein enriched diet on odor emission and greenhouse gas emission has also been studied. The results demonstrated that the protein enrichment of apple pomace by solid state cultivation of the fungus P. chrysosporium makes it possible to use it as a dietary supplement for pigs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Date Palm Cultivar, Particle Size, Panel Density and Hot Water Extraction on Particleboards Manufactured from Date Palm Fronds
Agriculture 2015, 5(2), 267-285; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5020267 - 18 May 2015
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3080
Abstract
The objective of this work was to evaluate some of the important physical and mechanical properties of particleboard panels manufactured from three different cultivars of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) fronds, namely Saqui, Barhi and Sukkari. Experimental panels were manufactured from hot [...] Read more.
The objective of this work was to evaluate some of the important physical and mechanical properties of particleboard panels manufactured from three different cultivars of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) fronds, namely Saqui, Barhi and Sukkari. Experimental panels were manufactured from hot water extracted and non-extracted, and fine and coarse particles of the raw material under two target panel densities of 650 and 750 kg/m3. Bending properties and internal bond strength, along with dimensional stability in the form of thickness swelling, water absorption, and linear expansion of the samples was tested. Based on the findings of this work, panels manufactured from high density level and Saqie cultivar, as well as fine particles, had better performance for their mechanical properties. The effect of hot water-treatment had less robust mechanical and physical properties. It appears that date palm fronds are underutilized resources that have the potential to be used in the manufacture of value-added panel products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Fruit and Vegetable Co-Products as Functional Feed Ingredients in Farm Animal Nutrition for Improved Product Quality
Agriculture 2015, 5(4), 1020-1034; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5041020 - 21 Oct 2015
Cited by 43 | Viewed by 4034
Abstract
There are significant environmental, economic and social factors favoring the reutilization of fruit and vegetable processing co-products in farm animal nutrition. Current evidence shows that fruit and vegetable processing co-products can be effectively used in farm animal nutrition as functional feed ingredients for [...] Read more.
There are significant environmental, economic and social factors favoring the reutilization of fruit and vegetable processing co-products in farm animal nutrition. Current evidence shows that fruit and vegetable processing co-products can be effectively used in farm animal nutrition as functional feed ingredients for the production of food products of improved quality. These ingredients comply with consumer requests for the production of “clean,” “natural” and “eco/green” label food products. The main parameters affecting extensive application of fruit and vegetable processing by-/co-products as functional feed ingredients in livestock nutrition are related to animal factors, logistics, and commercial value. Further research is needed to enable the commercial application of these products to livestock nutrition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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Open AccessReview
Effectiveness of Organic Wastes as Fertilizers and Amendments in Salt-Affected Soils
Agriculture 2015, 5(2), 221-230; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture5020221 - 24 Apr 2015
Cited by 48 | Viewed by 4064
Abstract
Excessive salt rate can adversely influence the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils, mainly in arid and semi-arid world regions. Therefore, salt-affected soils must be reclaimed to maintain satisfactory fertility levels for increasing food production. Different approaches have been suggested to solve [...] Read more.
Excessive salt rate can adversely influence the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils, mainly in arid and semi-arid world regions. Therefore, salt-affected soils must be reclaimed to maintain satisfactory fertility levels for increasing food production. Different approaches have been suggested to solve these issues. This short review focuses on selected studies that have identified organic materials (e.g., farmyard manures, different agro-industrial by-products, and composts) as effective tools to improve different soil properties (e.g., structural stability and permeability) in salt-affected soils. Organic fertilization is highly sustainable when compared to other options to date when taken into consideration as a solution to the highlighted issues. However, further experimental investigations are needed to validate this approach in a wider range of both saline and sodic soils, also combining waste recycling with other sustainable agronomic practices (crop rotations, cover crops use, etc.). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling Organic Wastes in Agriculture)
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