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The mismanagement of the sugarcane waste that results from the harvesting process, by burning it, leads to huge environmental pollution. This led a number of ecological and civil associations to raise concerns to stop such practices and eliminate its bad effects. In response, Dr. Dalia Nakhla devised a simple, practical, and cost-effective methods to turn the sugarcane waste into compost such that farmers would stop burning it and benefit at the same time.
The main residues generated from the sugarcane industry, in Egypt, are green tops and dry leaves from the harvesting process as well as bagasse, filter cake/mud and furnace ash from the cane milling process. The green tops are directly fed to the farmers’ livestock in its raw form during the sugar harvesting season which is from January to April. As for the dry leaves, it represents a burden due to its large volume and fire hazard and so it is daily burnt in the fields causing considerable air pollution.
A variety of compost types and organic fertilizers can be produced from a combination of the residues generated from the sugarcane residues according to their chemical and biological properties. The “Production of Compost and Organic Fertilizer from Sugarcane Residues” solution involves turning the sugarcane into compost through the steps detailed below.
Farmers shred the dry leaves left behind the cane harvest and mix them with dung produced by their livestock to make compost out of the mixture to be used as soil conditioner. Based on the quantities of dry leaves generated per one hectare (10,000 m2) of land, the compost piles or windrows will only require less than 100 m2 of the hectare (less than 1% of land area). Each hectare would generate about 5 tons of compost replacing about 10.4% of the amount of fertilizers used per hectare. Finally, the mix needs 12 weeks to compost the mix.
The Innovator's Background:
Dr. Dalia Nakhla, is an Environmental Engineering and Management consultant with 15+ years of experience. She is a certified Environmental Impact Assessment and Solid Waste Management Consultant by the Egyptian Ministry of Environmental Affairs and a certified UNIDO Energy Management National Expert.
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A practical method to turn the sugarcane dry leaves into compost
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