Algal compost – toward sustainable fertilization

Izabela Michalak 1  and Katarzyna Chojnacka 1
  • 1 Institute of Inorganic Technology and Mineral Fertilizers, Department of Chemistry, Wrocław University of Technology, Smoluchowskiego 25, 50-372 Wrocław, Poland
Izabela Michalak
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  • Izabela Michalak in 2005 graduated from the Faculty of Chemistry at the Wrocław University of Technology (Poland) in the discipline of Biotechnology. In 2010, she received a PhD in the discipline – Chemical Technology, specialization – Biotechnological processes. Nowadays, she is working as assistant/lecturer in the Faculty of Chemistry at the same University. Her interests include the biosorption processes by various types of biomasses (especially algae) and the production of seaweed extracts and their potential applications. She has published more than 50 papers, including 27 papers in world-known peer-reviewed scientific journals from the JCR list. She has an h-index of 6.
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and Katarzyna Chojnacka
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  • Katarzyna Chojnacka is Professor of Wroclaw University of Technology. Scientific interests include biosorption and bioaccumulation, in particular on various applications of these processes – elaboration and development of technologies and techniques which employ these processes. She has published over 200 papers, including 110 papers in world-known peer-reviewed scientific journals from JCR list. Contributed to the book “Hazardous Materials and Wastewater: Treatment, Removal and Analysis” by Nova Science Publishers: Ch. 10 “The Application of Biosorption and Bioaccumulation of Toxic Metals in Environmental Pollution Control” (by K. Chojnacka). She wrote the book “Biosorption and Bioaccumulation in Practice” and a chapter in UNESCO EOLSS Encyclopedia “Fermentation Products”. Her works were cited over 700 times, h-index: 15. She is also an author of invited book chapters: “Using the biomass of seaweeds in the production of components of feed and fertilizers” in: Kim S.-K. (Ed.) Handbook on Macroalgae: Biotechnology and Applied Phycology, John Wiley & Sons, 2011 and Hair mineral analysis in the assessment of human exposure to metals, in: V. Preedy (Ed.) “Handbook of hair in health and disease”, Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2011.
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In the present paper, the possibilities of the utilization of large amounts of beach-cast seaweeds are discussed. It is important to examine the methods of removing and processing algal biomass and find a manner of its cost-effective utilization in order to obtain a value-added product. A review of composting methods of algal biomass is presented. Compost from seaweeds can find several applications, for example, as an alternative to conventional fertilizers. Algae have been used for centuries as a natural fertilizer in many coastal areas because they are known to be rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Moreover, the biomass is characterized by the high content of trace elements and metabolites. There are different ways of management for algae for their use in agriculture. The most common is composting of algal biomass, for example, in piles. The advantages (i.e., high content of plant nutrients, organic components, etc.) and disadvantages (i.e., heavy metal content and salinity) of the composted biomass are presented. Finally, examples of the application of seaweed compost in plant cultivation are reported.

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