Newswise – Cassava is a vital agricultural product that has been a driving force for the Thai economy. For example, in 2021, the country produced up to 30 million tons of cassava, ranking third in the world as a cassava producer. With such large production volumes, it is not surprising that the waste generated in industrial factories producing tapioca starch is also enormous. At least 12 million tons of cassava must be disposed of appropriately every year, and sewage sludge must be disposed of in a way that does not contribute to pollution or have a negative impact on the environment.

Professor Dr. Warawut Chulalaksananukul
Department of Botany, Faculty of Science

Recognizing this crucial problem, Professor Dr. Warawut Chulalaksananukul from the Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University came up with the idea of ​​exploring the value of agricultural waste through research titled “ “Production of organic fertilizer from cassava starch industry waste using a combination formula of microbial inoculum.”

Cassava waste can be used as animal feed and those left over from meeting domestic needs are exported abroad. But the surpluses, which cause cassava waste to exceed market needs, have significantly reduced prices,” described Prof. Dr. Warawut the situation and problem that led to this research.

“As for the sewage sludge that comes from the water treatment system for the production of tapioca starch, once the sludge is disposed of or destroyed by burning, burying or turning into fertilizer, it may contain microorganisms that also cause diseases in plants,” such as heavy metal pollution .”

Tapioca starch is suitable for producing organic fertilizer

The main components cellulose, starch, fiber and protein all contribute to the growth of plants. In addition, the structure of cassava waste is such that it appears porous and therefore strongly absorbs water, ensuring good drainage and preventing the roots from rotting.

The sewage sludge from tapioca starch factories contains organic materials that can be utilized by plants, although they must first go through grinding and fermentation processes.

Converting cassava waste and sewage sludge into compost and organic fertilizer is therefore another way to reduce pollution and its impact on the environment.

Special microbial inoculum mixture that increases essential nutrients for plants.

Prof. Dr. Warawut added that although cassava is rich in various nutrients required for plant growth, this is still not enough. Plants also require primary nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as secondary nutrients such as calcium and magnesium and supplementary nutrients such as manganese, copper, iron and zinc.

Therefore, when converting cassava waste into organic fertilizer, some of the nutrients need to be added to the special formula of microbial inoculum that is invented.

The process of converting cassava waste and sewage sludge into organic fertilizer begins with the preparation of the starting substance, followed by additives and finally coated with the special formula of microbial inoculum and fermented for two months.

“These microbes belong to the group of bacteria that are considered safe for humans and the environment. They can break down both types of raw materials and retain the nitrogen, which directly benefits the plants.”

In the future, Prof. Dr. Warawut plans to expand research to develop microbial inoculum from other types of agricultural and industrial waste.

Readiness for production for commercial purposes

The research project experimented with the use of organic fertilizer on cassava planted in Sikhio district of Nakhon Ratchasima province and the results were satisfactory.

Prof. Dr. Warawut explained that the fertilizer produced contributes well to the growth of plants under the standards of organic fertilizers. Incidentally, it was also found that the cyanide found in cassava waste that has gone through the fermentation process is at an extremely low level and is barely detectable.

“The fertilizer we made from cassava waste can be used for all types of plants, especially crops such as cassava, rice, sugarcane or corn. This allows us to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, which have a long-term impact on soil quality. It also helps reduce toxins produced by various forms of waste management such as incineration.” Prof. Dr. Warawut concluded. He also added that Thai Wah Public Company Limited was instrumental in providing research funding for the project.

Farmers and individuals interested in this innovation can contact Prof. Dr. at +66-2218-5482. Warawut Chulalaksananukul from the Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University or about E-mail:[email protected]

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