Recovery of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Nutrition from Anaerobic Digestate by Natural Superabsorbent Fiber-Based Adsorbent and Reusing as an Environmentally Friendly Slow-Release Fertilizer for Horticultural Plants



To help minimize the negative impact of chemical fertilizers on the environment, recycle nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients of anaerobic digestate and reduce loss of nutrients via leaching, an eco-friendly slow-release fertilizer was prepared through recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrition from digestate using superabsorbent fibers extracted from soybean curd residue as an adsorbent.


The preparation method was proposed, and the fiber composite-based adsorbent was characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning electron microscope (SEM) techniques.


The successful incorporation of N and P into the fiber composite-based adsorbent via adsorption was confirmed by results of these analyses. The prepared fertilizer showed a relatively high N content (3.65 wt%) and a limited P content (0.14 wt%). Also, the swelling capacity as well as water retention capability of the obtained fiber composite-based adsorbent were evaluated. The release behavior of N and P from impregnated fiber composites was examined and was found to be partially in good accordance with the standard of the Committee of European Normalization, showing good slow-release and water-retention properties. Furthermore, in order to assess the fertilizer quality of the prepared materials, the effects of different fertilizers (commercially available fertilizer and prepared slow-release fertilizer) on tomato plant growth and soil microbial communities were investigated.


The obtained results demonstrated the potential of fiber composite-based slow-release fertilizer system for recycling N and P nutrition from digestate, improving the effectiveness of fertilizer as well as protecting the environment.

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This research project was funded by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) Programme.

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Zhang, L., Loh, KC., Sarvanantharajah, S. et al. Recovery of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Nutrition from Anaerobic Digestate by Natural Superabsorbent Fiber-Based Adsorbent and Reusing as an Environmentally Friendly Slow-Release Fertilizer for Horticultural Plants. Waste Biomass Valor 11, 5223–5237 (2020).

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  • Resource recovery
  • Bio-fertilizer
  • Water absorbency
  • Impregnation
  • Soil microbial communities
  • Pyrosequencing