Bioconversion of agro-industrial wastes: Combined compost and vermicompost processes using Eisenia fetida for stabilization of poultry litter

Document Type: Original Article


1 Instituto de Desarrollo Tecnológico para la Industria Química (INTEC, UNL-CONICET), (3000) Santa Fe, Argentina

2 Dep. De Ciencias Naturales, FHUC-UNL, Ciudad Universitaria, (3000) Santa Fe, Argentina

3 Dep. Medioambiente. FICH-UNL, Ciudad Universitaria, (3000) Santa Fe, Argentina


Purpose A combined treatment of composting and vermicomposting of poultry litter (PL), rice hulls (RH) and/or eucalyptus sawdust (ES) was carried out in order to obtain a high-quality organic fertilizer and avoid the environmental problems associated with the use of raw poultry manure and fresh agricultural waste materials.
Methods Three composting mixtures were made at volume proportions: 1:3 RH/PL (M1); 1:2 ES/PL (M2) and 0.5:1:2 RH/ES/PL (M3). Composting (120 days) followed by vermicomposting (90 days) using earthworms (Eisenia fetida) were conducted during the autumn-winter season, outdoors and sheltered. Moisture content was kept at 60-70%. Physicochemical (pH, electrical conductivity, lignin, total carbon and nitrogen, organic matter, ammonium and specific cations), total microbial activity (fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis) and microbiological parameters were recorded throughout both processes. Phytotoxicity tests were lastly performed by means of Lactuca sativa, L. seed germination, to compare the quality of the organic fertilizers obtained.
Results A sequential compost-vermicompost process enhanced the properties of the final products. Particularly, electrical conductivity was markedly lower in all vermicomposts (1.81-2.28 mS cm-1) and within the values recommended for the growth of sensitive plants; microbial activity reached 187.1-203.8 µg FDA gsoil-1 h-1. Germination Index values in vermicomposts were greater than 60%, indicating the high quality of the products obtained, being the mixture 0.5RH:1ES:2PL, the one which showed better quality and higher maturation degree.
Conclusion The system that combines both processes (composting+vermicomposting) was effective to produce a stabilized organic fertilizer from poultry litter with other waste organic materials.


Adam G, Duncan H (2001) Development of a sensitive and rapid method for the measurement of total microbial activity using fluoresce in diacetate (FDA) in a range of soils. Soil Biol Biochem 33: 943-951. https://doi:10. 1016/S0038-0717(00)00244-3

Amorim Orrico AC, Ribeiro Centurion S, Marques de Farias R, Previdelli Orrico Junior MA, Garófallo Garcia R (2012) Effect of different substrates on composting of poultry litter. R Bras Zootec 41 (7): 1764-1768. https://doi:10.1590/S1516-35982012000700028

Antczak A, Radomski A, Zawadzki J (2006) Benzene substitution in wood analysis. In: Annals of Warsaw Agricultural University SGGW-AR - Forestry and wood technology 58. Warsaw Agricultural University Press, Warsaw, pp15-19

APHA (American Public Health Association), AWWA (American Water Works Association), WEF (Water Environment Federation) (1998) Part 9221: Multiple-tube fermentation technique for the members of the coliform group. Standard Methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 20th edn. APHA, Washington DC, 1325 pp

Bamidele, JA, Idowu AB, Ademolu KO, Atayese AO (2014) Microbial diversity and digestive enzyme activities in the gut of earthworms found in sawmill industries in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Rev Biol Trop 62 (3): 1241-1249

Bhat SA, Singh J, Vig AP (2013) Vermiremediation of dyeing sludge from textile mill with the help of exotic earthworm Eisenia fetida Savigny. Environ Sci Pollut R 20: 5975-5982. https://doi:10.1007/s11356-013-1612-2

Castagnino AM, Rosini MB, Benson S (2011) Horticulture in Argentina: A productive alternative with great potential. Ital J Agron 6 (37): 39-41. https://doi:10. 4081/ija.2011.e37

Chin-Pampillo S, Ruiz-Hidalgo K, Masís-Mora M, Carazo-Rojas E, Rodríguez-Rodríguez CE (2015) Adaptation of biomixtures for carbofuran degradation in on-farm biopurification systems in tropical regions. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22(13): 9839-9848. https://doi:10.1007/ s11356-015-4130-6

Corradi Pereira BL, Carneiro ACO, Carvalho AMML, Colodette JL, Costa Oliveira A, Fontes MPF (2013) Influence of chemical composition of Eucalyptus wood on gravimetric yield and charcoal properties. BioResource 8 (3): 4574-4592. https://doi:10.15376/ biores.8.3.4574-4592

Davis MA, Sloan DR, Kidder G, Jacobs RD (2017) Poultry Manure as a Fertilizer. UF/IFAS. https://edis.ifas.ufl. edu/aa205. Accessed: 20 August 2019

Domínguez J, Gómez-Brandón M, Martínez-Cordeiro H, Lores M (2018) Bioconversion of Scotch broom into a high-quality organic fertilizer: Vermicomposting as a sustainable option. Waste Manage Res 36: 1092-1099. https://doi:10.1177/0734242X18797176

Edwards CA, Subler S, Arancon N (2011) Quality criteria for vermicomposts. In: Edwards CA, Arancon N, Sherman R (eds) VermicultureTechnology. Earthworms, Organic Wastes and Environmental Management. Taylor & Francis Group, US, pp 287-302. https://doi:10.1080/ 00207233.2012.624327

Fornes SF, Mendoza-Hernández D, García De La Fuente R, Abad Berjón M, Belda Navarro RM (2012) Composting versus vermicomposting: A comparative study of organic matter evolution through straight and combined processes. Bioresour Technol 118: 296-305. https://doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2012.05.028

Ghosh M, Chattopadhyay GN, Baral K (1999) Transformation of phosphorus during vermicomposting. Bioresour Technol 69 149-154.

Global broiler meat production (2019) by selected country Accessed: 20 August 2019. statistics/237597/leading-10-countries-worldwide-in-poultry-meat-production-in-2007/

Gong X, Cai L, Li S, Chang SX, Sun X, An Z (2018) Bamboo biochar amendment improves the growth and reproduction of Eisenia fetida and the quality of green waste vermicompost. Ecotox Environ Safe 156: 197–204. https://doi:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2018.03.023

Gupta R, Garg VK (2009) Vermiremediation and nutrient recovery of non-recyclable paper waste employing Eisenia fetida. J Hazard Mater 162: 430-439. https:// doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2008.05.055

Jankowska A, Drożdżek M, Sarnowski P, Horodeński J (2017) Effect of extractives on the equilibrium moisture content and shrinkage of selected tropical wood species. Bio Resource 12 (1): 597-607. https://doi:10. 15376/biores.12.1.597-607

Kilulya K, Msagati TAM, Mamba BB, Ngila JC, Brush T (2014) Effect of site, species and tree size on the quantitative variation of lipophilic extractives in Eucalyptus woods used for pulping in South Africa. Ind Crop Prod 56: 166-174. https://doi:10.1016/j. indcrop.2014.02.017

Laos F, Mazzarino MJ, Walter I, Roselli L, Satti P, Moyano S (2002) Composting of fish offal and biosolids in northwestern Patagonia. Bioresour Technol 81: 179-186. https://doi:10.1016/S0960-8524(01)00150-X

Lazcano C, Gómez-Brandón M, Domínguez J (2008) Comparison of the effectiveness of composting and vermicomposting for the biological stabilization of cattle manure. Chemosphere 72: 1013-1019. https:// doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.04.016

Leconte MC, Mazzarino MJ, Satti P, Iglesias MC, Laos F (2009) Co-composting rice hulls and/or sawdust with poultry manure in NE Argentina. Waste Manage. 29: 2446–2453. https://doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2009.04.006

Leconte MC, Mazzarino MJ, Satti P, Crego MP (2011) Nitrogen and phosphorus release from poultry manure composts: the role of carbonaceous bulking agents and compost particle sizes. Biol Fertil Soils 47: 897-906. https://doi:10.1007/s00374-011-0591-z

Lozano JF (2012) La producción de hortalizas en Argentina. Secretaría de Comercio Interior, Corporación del Mercado Central de Buenos Aires. 29 pp. http://www. Available: 29 August 2015

Mazzarino MJ, Satti P, Roselli L (2012) Indicadores de estabilidad, madurez y calidad de compost. In: MJ Mazzarino and P Satti (eds) Compostaje en la Argentina: Experiencias de producción, calidad y uso. UNRN. Orientación Gráfica Editora, Buenos Aires, pp 13-28

Mendoza-Hernández D, Fornes F, Belda R (2014) Compost and vermicompost of horticultural waste as substrates for cutting rooting and growth of rosemary. Sci Hortic- Amsterdam 178: 192-202. https://doi:10.1016/j.scienta. 2014.08.024

Milinković M, Lalević B, Jovičić-Petrović J, Golubović-Ćurguz V, Kljujev I, Raičević V (2019) Biopotential of compost and compost products derived from horticultural waste - Effect on plant growth and plant pathogens’suppression. Process Saf Environ 121: 299-306. https://doi:10.1016/j.psep.2018.09.024

Murphy J, Riley JP (1962) A modified single solution method for the determination of phosphate in natural waters. Anal Chim Acta 27: 31-36. https://doi:10.1016/S0003-2670(00)88444-5

Ndegwa PM, Thompson SA (2001) Integrating composting and vermicomposting in the treatment and bioconversion of biosolids. Bioresour Technol 76: 107-112. https:// doi:10.1016/S0960-8524(00)00104-8

Ogunwande GA, Osunade JA, Adekalu KO, Ogunjimi LAO (2008) Nitrogen loss in chicken litter compost as affected by carbon to nitrogen ratio and turning frequency. Bioresour Technol 99: 7495-7503. https:// doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2008.02.020

Parthasarathi K, Balamurugan M, Prashija KV, Jayanthi L, Basha SA (2016) Potential of Perionyxexcavatus (Perrier) in lignocellulosic solid waste management and quality vermifertilizer production for soil health. Int J Recycl Org Waste Agricult 5: 65-86. https://doi: 10.1007/s40093-016-0118-6

Paterlini H, González MV, Picone MI (2017) Calidad de la cama de pollo fresca y compostada. Ciencia del Suelo (Argentina) 35 (1): 69-78

Perondi D, Poletto P, Restelatto D, Manera C, Silva JP, Junges J, Collazzo GC, Dettmer A, Godinho M, Vilela ACF (2017) Steam gasification of poultry litter biochar for bio-syngas production. Process Saf Environ Protect 109: 478-488. https://doi:10.1016/j.psep.2017.04.029

Rynk R, van De Kamp M, Wilson GB, Singley ME, Richard TL, Kolega JJ, Gouin FR, Laliberty Jr. L, Kay D, Murphy DW, Hoitink HAJ, Brinton WF (1992) On-farm composting handbook. In: Rynk R (ed) Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service. Ithaca, NY, 109 pp

Saleem A, Irshad M, Ping A, Haroon B (2018) Loss of phosphorus by runoff from soils after amendment with poultry litter co-composted with crop waste. Int J Recycl Org Waste Agricult 7 (3): 211–215. https://doi: 10.1007/s40093-018-0207-9

Şevik F, Tosun I, Ekinci K (2018) The effect of FAS and C/N ratios on co-composting of sewage sludge, dairy manure and tomato stalks. Waste Manage 80: 450–456. https://doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2018.07.051

Sharma K, Garg VK (2018) Comparative analysis of vermicompost quality produced from rice straw and paper waste employing earthworm Eisenia fetida (Sav.). Bioresour Technol 250: 708-715. https://doi:10. 1016/j.biortech.2017.11.101

Sharpley AN, McDowell RW, Kleinman PJ (2004) Amounts, forms, and solubility of phosphorus in soils receiving manure. Soil Sci Soc Am J 68: 2048-2057. https://doi: 10.2136/sssaj2004.2048

Singh R, Soni SK, Singh SP, Chauhan UK, Kalra A (2013) Vermicompost from biodegraded distillation waste improves soil properties and essential oil yield of Pogostemoncablin (patchouli) Benth. Appl Soil Ecol 70: 48-56. https://doi:10.1016/j.apsoil.2013.04.007

TAPPI T 222 om-02 (2002) Acid-insoluble lignin in wood and pulp. TAPPI Press, Atlanta, GA, USA

Tejada M, González JL (2009) Application of two vermicompost on a rice crop: Effects on soil biological properties and rice quality and yield. Agron J 101: 336-344. https://doi:10.2134/agronj2008.0211

Tiquia SM, Richard TL, Honeyman MS (2002) Carbon, nitrogen and mass loss during composting. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 62: 15-24. https://doi:10.1023/A: 1015137922816

Tognetti C, Laos F, Mazzarino MJ, Hernández MT (2005) Composting versus vermicomposting: a comparison of end product quality. Compost Sci Util 13 (1): 6-13. https://doi:10.1080/1065657X.2005.10702212

Toumpeli A, Pavlatou-Ve AK, Kostopoulou SK, Mamolos AP, Siomos AS, Kalburtji KL (2013) Composting Phragmitesaustralis Cav. plant material and compost effects on soil and tomato (Lycopersiconesculentum Mill.) growth. J Environ Manag 128: 243-251. https://doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.04.061

Trevorah RM, Huynh T, Vancov T, Othman MZ (2018) Bioethanol potential of Eucalyptus obliqua sawdust using gammavalerolactone fractionation. Bioresour Technol 250: 673–682. https://doi:10.1016/j.biortech. 2017.11.084

Ultra Jr. VU, Mendoza DM, Briones AM (2005) Chemical changes under aerobic composting and nutrient supplying potential of banana residue compost. Renew Agr Food Syst 20: 113-125. https://doi:10.1079/ RAF2005104

USEPA (1993) Standards for the use or disposal of sewage sludge. U.S. Gov. Print. Office, Federal Register 58: 9248-9415. Washington DC

USEPA (1994) Method 200.9. Determination of trace elements by stabilized temperature graphite furnace atomic absorption. 2nd revision: JT Creed, TD Martin, JW O'Dell. Cincinati, Ohio, 42 pp

USEPA (1996) Ecological effects test guidelines. Seed germination/ root elongation toxicity test. OPPTS 850.4200. https:// Dockey= P100RF5I.PDF Accessed: 27 January 2019

Wanyo P, Meeso N, Siriamornpun S (2014) Effects of different treatments on the antioxidant properties and phenolic compounds of rice bran and rice husk. Food Chem 157: 457–463. https://doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.02. 061

Yadav A, Garg VK (2011) Recycling of organic wastes by employing Eisenia fetida. Bioresour Technol 102: 2874-2880. https://doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2010.10.083

Yadav A, Gupta R, Garg VK (2013) Organic manure production from cow dung and biogas plant slurry by vermicomposting under field conditions. Int J Recycl Org Waste Agricult 2 (21): 1-7. https://doi:10.1186/ 2251-7715-2-21

Zucconi F, Monaco A, Forte M, Bertoldi MD (1985) Phytotoxins during the stabilization of organic matter. In: Composting of agricultural and other wastes, Gasser JKR (ed) Elsevier Applied Science Publishers, England, pp 73-86