Improvement of quality and agronomic properties of raw organic amendment mixtures by thermal treatment

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Soil quality degradation due to agricultural practices constitutes an important growing problem in the Mediterranean Region. Organic amendments are a suitable option for recovering soil fertility by increasing soil organic matter. Olive mill pomace plus olive tree pruning compost (COMP) and spent coffee grounds (SCG) are two examples of organic amendments which can be used for this purpose, but both amendments alone have disadvantages of pH and organic matter quality. We proposed to improve these amendments by combining them in different proportions to generate a new amendment with neutral pH, reduced EC and more complex and evolved organic matter, based on the different functional groups predominant in COMP and SCG. However, the final quality of these amendments could still be upgraded by thermal treatment. Treatments at 275 °C, and to a lesser extent 225 °C, transformed organic matter by reducing the amount of labile and easily degradable forms and increasing the content of recalcitrant forms, which are more complex due to polymerization and formation of aromatic and stable functional groups. Mixtures of COMP and SCG subjected to this thermal treatment were shown to be a more effective and even richer organic amendment.

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Technical support was provided by the University of Jaén Centro de Instrumentación Científico-Técnico (Funded by the University of Jaén, MINECO, the Andalusian Government and ERDF). F. Comino also thanks the University of Jaén (Spain) for his Ph.D. fellowship.

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Correspondence to Francisco Comino.

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Comino, F., Aranda, V., Domínguez-Vidal, A. et al. Improvement of quality and agronomic properties of raw organic amendment mixtures by thermal treatment. J Mater Cycles Waste Manag 22, 159–166 (2020).

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  • Soil quality
  • Compost
  • Olive mill pomace waste
  • Coffee waste
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Phytotoxicity
  • UV–Vis
  • TG-SDT