Speciation of P in solid organic fertilisers from digestate and biowaste

Regelink, Inge C.; Egene, Caleb E.; Tack, Filip M.G.; Meers, Erik


Phosphorus (P) is a finite resource and its reuse in organic fertilisers made from biowaste and manure should therefore be encouraged. The composition of solid organic fertilisers (SOFs) depends on the type of feedstock and processing conditions, and this may affect P speciation and hence P availability. Phosphorus speciation was assessed in eighteen different SOFs produced from biowaste and digestate. Available P was determined in 10 mM CaCl2 extracts at a fixed pH of 5.5 and at a fixed total P concentration in the suspension. P was dominantly present as inorganic P (>80% of total P). There was a strong variation in the Fe content of the SOFs and hence in the fraction of P bound to reactive Fe/Al-oxides (PFe). The fraction of total P soluble at pH 5.5 correlated negatively with PFe pointing to fixation of P by metal salts added during processing, or by soil mineral particles in case garden waste was processed. Therefore, the use of iron salts in processing plants should be avoided. In addition, the presence of P in poorly soluble precipitates lowered the fraction of easily available P. Overall, this study shows that Pt alone is not a good indicator for the agronomic efficiency of SOFs due to large differences in P speciation among SOFs.