Producing organic amendments: physicochemical changes in biowaste used in anaerobic digestion, composting, and fermentation

Vania Chavez, Paul Bodelier, M.H.A. van Eekert, V. Sechi, A. Veeken, Cees Buisman

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Organic amendments (OAs) produced via composting, anaerobic digestion, or lactic acid fermentation, can be used to replenish soil carbon. Not all OAs production technologies preserve C and nutrients in the same way. In this study, we compared the influence of these technologies (i.e., treatments) on C and nutrient preservation and OAs chemical composition after production. We produced compost, digestate, and lactic-acid fermentation product using the same biowaste-resembling model substrate using three reactors under laboratory conditions. We compared the chemical conversions and end-products using mass balances over C, N, and P. Overall results show that losses are minimal under reducing production conditions. Fermentation and digestion conserved 99% and 64% of C; and 93% and 100% of N, respectively. While compost conservation of nutrients was limited to 25% of C and 38% of N. Digestate had the highest concentrations of C, N, and P in the water-soluble phase, enabling their accessibility for soil microbes. Concentrations in the fermentation product were one order of magnitude lower but still higher than in compost. The treatments also influence the final availability of C, N, and P, which could potentially improve the fertilising and soil-improving properties of produced OAs. Our results show that under reducing conditions, losses of C, N, and P can be decreased while increasing OAs applications in terms of sources for soil-microbial development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-185
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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