Two-phase olive mill waste composting: enhancement of the composting rate and compost quality by grape stalks addition.Biodegradation. 2010 Jun; 21(3):465-73.B
Two-phase olive mill waste (TPOMW) is a semisolid sludge generated by the olive oil industry. Its recycling as a soil amendment, either unprocessed or composted, is being promoted as a beneficial agricultural practice in the Mediterranean area. One of the major difficulties when composting TPOMW is the compaction of the material due to its dough-like texture, which leads to an inadequate aeration. For this reason, the addition of bulking agents is particularly important to attain a proper composting process. In this study we followed the evolution of two composting mixtures (A and B) prepared by mixing equal amounts of TPOMW and sheep litter (SL) (in a dry weight basis). In pile B grape stalks (GS) were added (10% dry weight) as bulking agent to study their effect on the development of the composting process and the final compost quality. The incorporation of grape stalks to the composting mixture changed the organic matter (OM) degradation dynamics and notably reduced the total amount of lixiviates. The evolution of several maturation indices (C/N, germination index, water soluble carbon, humification indices, C/N in the leachates) showed a faster and improved composting process when GS were added. Moreover, chemical (NH4+, NO3(-), cation exchange capacity, macro and micronutrients, heavy metals) and physical properties (bulk and real densities, air content, total water holding capacity, porosity) of the final composts were analysed and confirmed the superior quality of the compost where GS were added.