Source: NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
ORGANIC WASTE UTILIZATION OF NEW MEXICO
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0221317
Grant No.
2010-34358-20679
Project No.
NM-GHASSEMI-10G
Proposal No.
2010-01369
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
LE
Project Start Date
May 15, 2010
Project End Date
Nov 30, 2011
Grant Year
2010
Project Director
Ghassemi, A.
Recipient Organization
NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY
1620 STANDLEY DR ACADEMIC RESH A RM 110
LAS CRUCES,NM 88003-1239
Performing Department
Institute for Energy and Environment
Non Technical Summary
IEE/WERC, in partnership with the NMSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics, through the NIFA Organic Waste Utilization project of New Mexico, is addressing the reduction/elimination of observed near and long term impacts of improper manure management in dairy related confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) in New Mexico. This research is designed to eliminate or reduce degradation of water resources and agricultural land that could result from improperly managed waste manures. Traditional windrow composting of dairy wastes have previously presented multiple problems: large specialized equipment expenditures, offensive odors and associated insect infestation, volatilization and/or leaching of nutrients, long composting cycles (up to a year and longer in the desert), large water usage requirements, and most have resulted in an immature, highly saline compost end product (18-25 mS/cm2) that is not beneficial for use in agriculture or viable as a marketable product. This research is addressing the initial problems that exist in traditional composting practices and has now developed a new composting methodology to address these problems. This composting technology (Johnson/Su bioreactor) has little to no investment in specialized equipment (materials for the bio-reactor process cost less than $35.00/unit), produces no odors or commonly associated insects problems, amenable to scaling up, reduces volatilization and leaching of nutrients to minimal amounts, reduces the composting time cycle up to 75%, reduces water usage by a factor of 6, and results in a low salinity (2-3 mS/cm2), nutrient rich, high-microbial-biodiversity compost. This research has also demonstrated that adjustments in substrate composition in the reactors and modification of process temperature regimes effect the end product quality, determining salinity and microbime diversity. These compost products will be designed to fulfill crop nutrient requirements, promote soil health, and contribute towards a reduction in agricultural energy inputs, all important subcomponents of promoting a sustainable agriculture initiative.
Animal Health Component
(N/A)
Research Effort Categories
Basic
75%
Applied
25%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
4030199202050%
1040210202030%
1123499202010%
1334099106010%
Goals / Objectives
IEE/WERC, in partnership with the NMSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics will perform research and evaluation addressing utilization of dairy waste with other high-carbon wastes from agriculture and industry towards practical, effective and economical reduction of improper manure management practices through deployment of a unique composting process, development of reliable compost maturity indicators, and compost application protocols through: Objective 1: Improvement of composting end-product quality and reduction of salinity through modification of: compost process temperature, leaching processes, substrate composition and/or amendment addition. Objective 2: Development of a reliable and inexpensive indicator for assessing compost maturity and compost quality determined by quantitative and qualitative analysis of the compost microbiome. Objective 3:Deployment of this composting process and the observed associated benefits derived from product usage though: land application trials, technology demonstrations, conference presentations, and assisting agricultural professionals to adopt lessons learned from this research.
Project Methods
Research in 2010 will continue to explore manipulations in composting methodology and compost substrates towards production of a high nutrient quality, low salinity, biologically diverse compost end-product. Methodology 1:Further exploration into modification of system parameters to determine component contributions through: a)separate composting of the substrates to understand the individual contributions each substrate adds to the process, b) quantify process results with amendment adjustments of co-substrates c) quantify biological parameters that contribute to substrate decomposition and final compost product quality, d)continued analysis of potential leaching processes. These optimizations will explore production of compost products that possess: high non-transient nutrient content, beneficial microbial profiles, and low sodicity primarily increasing marketability. Methodology 2: Compost microbiome assessments, both quantitative and qualitative, will be implemented for determining compost quality. 2009 compost assessment studies indicated a 99.9+% positive correlation when comparing plant growth to biological parameters and recent developments in sequencing technologies now offer access to investigative windows to view these microbial population interactions. Medium diversity microbiome surveys produce reliable, reproducible, and inexpensive microbiome assessments, and analysis of results will be conducted to determine if correlations of the compost microbiome will be a reliable indicator of plant growth and compost maturity. Methodology 3: The high microbial content compost from this unique composting process results in a compost product, possessing traits that support increased plant growth and plant health. Compost microbial population counts (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes) from this process demonstrate an average of 4.5X to 18X the values considered optimal for normal quality compost. Research will concentrate on determing the causal factors of the observed beneficial growth effects and transfer of this knowledge to field trials for benefit confirmation and potential technology deployment with the area and regional agricultural professionals.

Progress 05/15/10 to 11/30/11

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Activities: The Organic Waste Utilization project has conducted composting processes utilizing dairy wastes with other agricultural wastes to determine the optimum composting substrate ratios, evaluated maturation time for compost mixes, and evaluated chemical, physical and microbial assays for determination of compost maturity/fertility toward determination of composting best practices. Evaluation of the effects of compost produced in this research regarding nutrient uptake, soil changes and irrigation requirements are expected outputs. Development of a Microbiome analysis tool for determining compost maturity and fertility was implemented. Improvements of composting technologies as well as application and benefits of use have been taught to local farmers and interested individuals as well as presentation of methodologies and results at an international conference. Composting methodologies and benefits were posted on a major social network and resource for making information available to the general public. PARTICIPANTS: Dr. David C. Johnson is a molecular biologist working on sustainable agriculture and carbon sequestration at New Mexico State University. davidcjohnson@nmsu.edu TARGET AUDIENCES: Target audiences for this project have Federal and State officials, public and private sector corporations, agricultural and environmental educational undergraduate to graduate level, growers and composting professionals local, national and international. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Not relevant to this project.

Impacts
An innovative composting process was developed which reduces salinity of compost end-product solving the main marketing issue in producing compost with dairy manure. The Johnson/Su composting process is a no-turn low input composting process that can be conducted in any environment with minimal investment which consistently produces high quality/high fertility compost. The process significantly reduces: 1) labor input by requiring no large machinery or windrow turning equipment, 2) reduces operational costs through reduction in machinery costs and no fuel costs for same, 3) reduces water usage by 80 percent when compared to windrow techniques in a desert environment, 4) eliminates odors and insect problems due to aeration characteristics of the bioreactor allowing no anaerobic process to occur 4) cuts down process time by 60% through development of a beneficial environment for biological breakdown of substrates. Exploration of new analysis techniques of the compost produced from this process has opened new fundamentals for methodologies to determine compost quality/fertility. Direct epifluorescent microscopy, measuring soil foodweb characteristics (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematode) produced a reliable metric with which to predict plant growth for compost amendments ((r2 =0 .87-0.94). Ten different compost products were subjected to and 8 week growth test with chiles in a greenhouse setting. The only metric to successfully predict plant growth in this study was Fungal to Bacterial Ratio (r2 = 0.87). Other metrics, i.e. standard soil test for macro and micro nutrients, demonstrated no correlation with observed plant growth and N, P and K demonstrated r2 below 0.041. Microbiome analysis with 16S rRNA bacteria Tag Encoded FLX Amplicon Pyrosequencing (bTEFAP) indicates potential development of a quick, inexpensive and powerful diagnostic tool capable of predicting compost maturity. Pyrosequencing of the compost process revealed changes at both the phyla and species level. Nine separate species, both fungal and bacterial correlated (both negative and positive) with the change in temperatures throughout the composting process (r2 = 0.81-0.93). With both negative and positive correlations on bacterial and fungal species compost maturity assessment may be accomplished for as little and $100. This procedure is also able to determine presence/absence of pathogens and could be tailored to determine parasite populations also. These findings have also opened a window into understanding plant/soil/microbiome relationships and opened inroads into understanding and promoting a logical and economically viable sustainable agriculture platform. Adoption of the methodologies in composting and use of products and techniques developed in this research will result in improvements in farm profitability by reducing or eliminating reliance on expensive synthetic fertilizers, reduce water usage, and reduce or eliminate expensive and time consuming agricultural practices.

Publications

  • 2011,The results of this research were presented to state officials. NM Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Environment demonstrating the improved composting technology, results from compost application. The effects of implementing of a novel inexpensive compost analysis method assessing soil and compost microbiomes has been presented in soil biology and environmental engineering classes. 2011, The composting process was posted on YouTube.com to facilitate improved technology transfer through social networking. Adoption of this technology will also reduce or eliminate impacts that are detrimental to our environment; reduction of land filled wastes implemented as soil carbon amendments, reduction in pollution in streams, ground water, estuaries and oceans resulting from excess fertilization, pesticides and herbicides. Lessons learned from this research also indicate potential for sequestration of significant amounts of carbon through application of these technologies and farming methodologies along with added improvements in food supply, quality and safety.


Progress 05/15/10 to 05/14/11

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Activities: The Organic Waste Utilization project has conducted composting processes utilizing dairy wastes with other agricultural wastes to determine the optimum composting substrate ratios, evaluated maturation time for compost mixes, and evaluated chemical, physical and microbial assays for determination of compost maturity/fertility toward determination of composting best practices. Evaluation of the effects of compost produced in this research regarding nutrient uptake, soil changes and irrigation requirements are expected outputs. Development of a Microbiome analysis tool for determining compost maturity and fertility was pursued. Improvements of composting technologies as well as application and benefits of use have been taught to local farmers and interested individuals as well as presentation of methodologies and results at an international conference. Composting methodologies and benefits were posted on a major social network and resource for making information available to the general public. PARTICIPANTS: David C. Johnson Ph.D. was the individual working on this project during this reporting period. Results from this research were taught as a special topics class in an agricultural soil biology class at NMSU. Training from this research was also relayed to area farmers Wes Eaton and Dosi Alvarez as well as area row-crop and truck-farm farmers. TARGET AUDIENCES: Target audiences and efforts to relay findings from this research included junior and senior level undergraduates, area farmers, collaborators on associated projects, extension personnel, and professor associates. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
An innovative composting process was developed which reduces salinity of compost end-product solving the main marketing issue in producing compost with dairy manure. The Johnson/Su composting process is a no-turn low-input composting process that can be conducted in any environment with minimal investment which consistently produces high quality/high fertility compost. The process significantly reduces: 1) labor input by requiring no large machinery or windrow turning equipment, 2) reduces operational costs through reduction in machinery costs and no fuel costs for same, 3) reduces water usage by 80 percent when compared to windrow techniques in a desert environment, 4) eliminates odors and insect problems due to aeration characteristics of the bioreactor allowing no anaerobic process to occur 5) cuts down process time by 60% through development of a beneficial environment for biological breakdown of substrates. Exploration of new analysis techniques of the compost produced from this process has opened new fundamentals for methodologies to determine compost maturity/quality/fertility. Microbiome analysis with 16S rRNA bacteria Tag Encoded FLX Amplicon Pyrosequencing (bTEFAP) indicates potential development of a quick, inexpensive and powerful diagnostic tool capable of predicting both compost maturity as well as plant response to composts. These findings have also opened a window into understanding plant/soil/microbiome relationships and opened inroads into understanding and promoting a logical and economically viable sustainable agriculture platform. Adoption of the methodologies in composting and use of products and techniques developed in this research will result in improvements in farm profitability by reducing or eliminating reliance on expensive synthetic fertilizers, reduce water usage, and reduce or eliminate expensive and time-consuming agricultural practices. Adoption of this technology will also reduce or eliminate impacts that are detrimental to our environment; reduction of land filled wastes implemented as soil carbon amendments, reduction in pollution in streams, ground water, estuaries and oceans resulting from excess fertilization, pesticides and herbicides. Lessons learned from this research also indicate potential for sequestration of significant amounts of carbon through application of these technologies and farming methodologies along with added improvements in food supply, quality and safety. The results of this research were presented at an international composting conference organized by the US Composting Council held in February of 2010 demonstrating the improved composting technology, results from compost application and the effects of implementing of a novel inexpensive compost analysis method assessing soil and compost microbiomes. The composting process was posted on YouTube.com to facilitate improved technology transfer through social networking.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period