Improve Composting of Green Waste with Natural Zeolite

Green compost is an amazing way to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. A common problem that compost faces are the traces of heavy metals, which limit land application.  In findings by Singh, J., & Kalamdhad, a year ago, they assessed the bioavailability of heavy metals using cattle manure, with and without natural zeolite.

They now take their research further, seeking to find the optimum dose of natural zeolite in composting that leads to a better composting product suitable for agricultural or other purposes. In green waste compost the application of natural zeolite is studied, they record the temperature, pH and organic matter degradations on speciation of heavy metals.

The compost of the water hyacinth is contained in a rotary drum. Using the Tessier sequential extraction method, and ratios of 6:3:1 was mixed with 5, 10, and 15% natural zeolite by weight. The addition of natural zeolite increased the pH in the feed mixture and organic matter, and consequently, the heavy metals were influenced. Results showed the success in reducing the bioavailability of heavy metals significantly due to the combined effects of the best quantity of natural zeolite mixed with cattle manure and sawdust used in the rotary drum.

Singh, J., & Kalamdhad, A. S. (2013). Assessment of bioavailability and leachability of heavy metals during rotary drum composting of green waste (Water hyacinth). Ecological engineering, 52, 59-69.

Singh, J., & Kalamdhad, A. S. (2014). Influences of natural zeolite on speciation of heavy metals during rotary drum composting of green waste. Chemical Speciation & Bioavailability, 26(2), 65-75.

Zeolite + Food & Municipal Solid Waste

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Food waste is a substantial part of municipal solid waste. The average American is throwing way more than 38 million tons of food per year, and most of it is not reused. Composting provides an environmental technology to reuse food waste, turning it into valuable fertilizer-rich soil.

This study highlights how zeolite used in composting helps reduce the loss of nutrients and eliminates odor at the same time. Struite composting is a technique in composting that is used to eliminate nitrogen loss. When you compost food waste, intense acidification becomes a problem, which is commonly fixed with alkaline materials, for example, a lime. However what is actually happening when using these methods, is 50% of initial nitrogen is lost as ammonia and reduces nutritional value for organic fertilizer (Xuan 2015).  

What scientists are finding is that nitrogen loss can be reduced up to 18% through the addition of zeolite in the struvite composting process.

Citations:

Chan, M. T., Selvam, A., & Wong, J. W. C. (2016). Reducing nitrogen loss and salinity during ‘struvite’ food waste composting by zeolite amendment. Bioresource Technology, 200, 838–844. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2015.10.093

How Much Food is Wasted in America? (2017, September 18). Retrieved November 9, 2018, from https://foodforward.org/2017/09/how-much-food-is-wasted-in-america/

Wang, X. (n.d.). Nitrogen conservation by struvite formation during the composting process with food wastes, 258. https://repository.hkbu.edu.hk/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1200&context=etd_oa

Agriculture & Our Environment

Of all the air pollutants, the agricultural industry is the most “Ideally positioned to fight climate change,” and here is how. Check out this very informative illustration of how interconnected agricultural practices are to our environment.

Study Shows Ammonia Reduction with Zeolite

An on-farm study was conducted to record the effect of adding natural zeolite to compost in Southern Idaho with 100 Jersey cows. Complete manure and compost nutrient lab analyses were performed.

These results demonstrate that the addition of natural zeolites has a positive effect on reducing ammonia emissions during the composting process and increasing the conversion to nitrates, retaining nitrogen in the compost in a form that is more available to crops.

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windrow turning compost
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What do the experts tell us about how composting works? What can and can not be composted? Composting is a very powerful and complex natural process.

Under ideal conditions organic matter is broken down through the help of microorganisms, bacteria, temperature and moisture, read this article find out more about how it works. Zeolite is a powerful composting ingredient, harboring microbial life,  maintaining a balanced pH and storing plant-accessible nutrients.

Stormwater Pollution

Stormwater management is a very recent term based on regulations passed in the 1990’s. American businesses such as scrap metal yards, gas stations & even car washes must comply with runoff water regulations, and must find innovative and cost effective ways to remove high PPM counts of harmful heavy metals such as lead, mercury, zinc, copper, cadmium, thallium and others; as well as fuel-based contaminants such as ammonium.

A recent court case in Oregon has resulted in new special protections for contaminated rivers and will now require more than 800 industrial sites such as lumber yards, scrap metal yards and truck depots to report their stormwater pollution four times per year instead of once.

Even now the recent Carr fires in Northern California are threatening the Sacramento River watershed.

Zeolite has been a proven heavy metal sequestration media for many years, and has been identified as a powerful filtration tool in the real world. In laboratory research, clinoptilolite has been shown to have a high absorption capacity, able to trap and adsorb harmful metals.