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Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2011 Sep;165(1):270-8. doi: 10.1007/s12010-011-9249-4. Epub 2011 May 3.

Turnover of carbohydrate-rich vegetal matter during microaerobic composting and after amendment in soil.

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TGA LLC, 13851 Verte Court, Lake Oswego, OR 97034, USA.


We propose that microaerobic composting (MC) can be used to decompose vegetal matter with a short turnover time and large carbon (C) recycling potential. We used a novel method for measuring the degree of fragmentation of water-insoluble acid-soluble (WIAS) polysaccharides as a proxy in tracking their relative degree of degradation (i.e., fragmentation endpoint index). Oak leaves and food scrap processed by MC reached a fragmentation end point within 2 weeks. After amending the MC products into soil, the half-life of the polysaccharide residues was ~6-7 times longer (~100-110 days) than that measured during MC. The main products given up during MC were volatile organic acids (VOAs), alcohols and soluble carbohydrates in the compost tea, and CO(2). These products accounted for about 2% of the initial carbon in the feedstock. Very small amounts of VOAs, particularly butyric acid, were formed in the amended soil. Based on a residence time of materials in fermentors of 2 weeks, a ~100-m(3) capacity MC facility could process 2,000-4,000 metric tons of vegetable matter amended in ten hectares of arable land per year.

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