COMPOSTING AS A WAY TO CONVERT CELLULOSIC BIOMASS AND ORGANIC WASTE INTO HIGH-VALUE SOIL AMENDMENTS: A REVIEW

Martin A. Hubbe, Mousa Nazhad, Carmen Sánchez

Abstract


Plant-derived cellulosic materials play a critical role when organic wastes are composted to produce a beneficial amendment for topsoil. This review article considers publications dealing with the science of composting, emphasizing ways in which the cellulosic and lignin components of the composted material influence both the process and the product. Cellulose has been described as a main source of energy to drive the biological transformations and the consequent temperature rise and chemical changes that are associated with composting. Lignin can be viewed as a main starting material for the formation of humus, the recalcitrant organic matter that provides the water-holding, ion exchange, and bulking capabilities that can contribute greatly to soil health and productivity. Lignocellulosic materials also contribute to air permeability, bulking, and water retention during the composting process. Critical variables for successful composting include the ratio of carbon to nitrogen, the nature of the cellulosic component, particle size, bed size and format, moisture, pH, aeration, temperature, and time. Composting can help to address solid waste problems and provides a sustainable way to enhance soil fertility.

Keywords


Composting; Soil; Cellulosic biomass; Biodegradation; Carbon; Nitrogen; Humus; Odor control; Recalcitrance; Aeration; Bacterial succession

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Welcome to BioResources! This online, peer-reviewed journal is devoted to the science and engineering of biomaterials and chemicals from lignocellulosic sources for new end uses and new capabilities. The editors of BioResources would be very happy to assist you during the process of submitting or reviewing articles. Please note that logging in is required in order to submit or review articles. Martin A. Hubbe, (919) 513-3022, hubbe@ncsu.edu; Lucian A. Lucia, (919) 515-7707, lucian.lucia@gmail.com URLs: bioresourcesjournal.com; http://ncsu.edu/bioresources ISSN: 1930-2126