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Assessing the Quality of Compost Produced from Human Hair and Pet Fur Waste

Composting is an effective waste management alternative that creates a horticultural and agricultural based resource. Globally, large quantities of human hair and pet fur from salons, barber shops, and groomers are disposed of, ultimately ending up in landfills. Thus, incorporating human hair and pet fur into compost is a potential approach for waste diversion. Human hair and pet fur are organic substances that contain nutrients essential for plant growth, have moisture retention properties, and can insulate and stabilize soil. Cumulatively, these properties suggest that hair and fur could be composted to create a valuable product. However, human hair and pet fur also have the capacity to contain heavy metals and/or chemicals from treatments. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of composting human hair and pet fur as an alternative waste management option without sacrificing compost quality standards or safety. To achieve this, compost piles were created using 25% human hair or pet fur, 40% wood chips, and 35% food waste. Piles were mixed twice weekly and monitored every 5–7 days for proper moisture and temperatures in accordance with industry standards. In-vessel composters were used. Piles cured for 4–8 weeks and the entire composting process lasted 5 months. Samples were composited and tested by the Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory’s U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Approval Program at Pennsylvania State University. In this pilot study, high quality composts were created, indicating that waste management industries can potentially utilize human hair and pet fur as feedstocks to create desirable compost for the horticultural and agricultural industries.

Effect of Coffee Pulp Compost and P Fertilizer on Yield and Yield Components of Maize (Zea mays L.) in Gedeo Zone, Southern Ethiopia

Agricultural waste utilization in the form of compost is a sustainable alternative to fertilizer for increasing crop yield in smallholder farms. A study was conducted to investigate the effect of coffee pulp (CP) compost, phosphorus (P) fertilizer, and their combination on yield and yield components of maize in the Gedeo Zone, Southern Ethiopia, under rainfed conditions using maize variety BH140 as a test crop. The treatments consisted of four CP compost levels (0, 2.5, 5 and 7.5 t/ha) and four P levels (0, 10, 20 and 30 kg/ha) laid out in a factorial arrangement using a randomized complete block design with three replications. The analysis of variance revealed that there were significant (p ≤ 0.05) differences among the different levels of CP compost on tasseling date, ear length, 1000 seed weight, grain yield, biomass production, and harvest index of maize. P application had also a significant (p ≤ 0.05) effect on all measured yield components and final grain yield. Sole application of CP at the rate of 2.5 t/ha increased maize grain yield by 19% compared to control plots. Integration of CP compost at the rate of 2.5 t/ha with 30 and 20 kg P/ha increased maize grain yields by 63 and 60.85% compared to control plots, respectively. Thus, the integration of compost at the rate of 2.5 t/ha with 20 kg P/ha could be recommended for maximum grain yield. Farmers who cannot afford fertilizer would be encouraged to use CP compost at the rate of 2.5 t/ha.

Importance of Vermicompost in Tomato Plant Cultivation and Improvement of Some Soil Properties

Vermicompost is a material whose popularity is rapidly growing. However, information about the usage amount and mineralization in the soil, and the state of the emergence of plant nutrients is quite limited. In this study, it was aimed to determine the effects of different vermicompost doses at different incubation periods on the soil properties and nutrient concentrations of the tomato plant. For this purpose, increased doses of vermicompost (0, 20, 40, and 60 t ha−1) were mixed into the soil, and effects of them on soil properties at different incubation periods (0, 15, 30, 45, 60 and 90 days) were determined. At the end of the incubation period, the tomato plant was grown. At the end of the cultivation phase, the residual effect of vermicompost on soil properties were determined. Vermicompost doses and the increase in incubation period increased the amount of soil organic matter. With the direct and residual effects of increased vermicompost doses, the total concentration of N, av-P, ex-K, ex-Ca, ex-Mg and av-Zn in the soil increased. Prolongation of the incubation period caused fluctuation of nutrient concentrations. Increased vermicompost doses positively affected the N, P, and K concentrations of the tomato plant, and negatively affected the Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn, and Mn concentrations of it. As a result, it was found that vermicompost improved the chemical properties of the highly calcareous Mediterranean region soils, but it was not sufficient for adequate and balanced feeding in plant production, and it must necessarily be supplemented by chemical feeding.

Influence of Degradation of PLA with High Degree of Crystallinity on Fungal Community Structure in Compost

Degradation rate of poly(lactic acid) (PLA), a compostable plastic, is affected by its physical properties and environmental conditions. Since PLA with different physical properties enter composting systems, investigation of degradation of PLA with strong physical properties in compost at different temperatures and its influence on compost fungal community structure are the main concerns of this study. To determine the effect of slow PLA degradation on fungal communities, PLA granules with high degree of crystallinity, 60%, were incubated in compost at 25 °C and 50 °C for 4 months at 0, 10, 25 and 50% (w/w) concentrations; their degradation rates were compared and impact of PLA degradation on compost fungal communities was examined by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP). PLA granules in compost at 25 °C showed no physical changes but at 50 °C physical disintegration occurred after 4 months. TRFLP revealed that fungal community profiles in compost were affected by PLA, particularly at 50 °C where PLA degraded. Compost fungal communities in the presence of PLA at 50 °C had more variation, 63%, than at 25 °C (52%). Incubation time affected fungal community structure as during 2nd month, community structure changed specifically at 50 °C and at 50% (w/w) PLA, however, became similar to that in the absence of PLA at the end of 4th month at both temperatures indicating PLA with a high degree of crystallinity causes a temporal perturbation in compost fungal communities. In compost containing PLA at 50 °C, abundance of certain TRFs representing fungal populations increased to 30% which may involve in PLA utilization.