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Compost Fertilizer production from Sugar Press Mud (SPM)

Suneela Sardar, Suhaib Umer Ilyas+, Shahid Raza Malik and Kashif Javaid
Department of Chemical Engineering, NFC-Institute of Engineering & Fertilizer Research, Faisalabad
38090, Pakistan

Abstract: Compost produced from biological wastes does not contain any chemicals unfavorable to
living soil. This organic fertilizer is also one of them which contain phosphate, nitrogen solubilizing
bacteria and decomposing fungi, which is co-friendly and protect the plants from various soil borne
diseases. Results of trial based production of Compost at large scale is discussed. Different ratios of sugar
press mud (SPM), Molasses and Rock Phosphate was mixed, piled and transformed in to Compost
products in about 14-21 days. Single super phosphate (SSP) & Sulfur mud was also added and
investigated to increase the Phosphoric components of Compost to produce a good quality of biofertilizer.
In the end, granulation of this bio fertilizer was also investigated at different temperatures using Rotary
dryers to produce grains for the ease of farmers.

Keywords: Biological Waste, Nitrogen solubilizing bacteria, Sugar press mud (SPM), Soil borne disease,

1. Introduction
Since 19th century, sugarcane is grown in
different countries for sugar production primarily.
Due to energy crises, scientists and researchers have
realized the value of sugarcane, its by products and
co-products. Sugarcane is processed to sugar and
biomass. This biomass contains many components
like lignin, fiber, pith and pentosans, which has
plenty of applications in biochemical & microbial
fields. [1] In this research paper, the main focus is to
use one of the by-product i.e. Sugar press mud
(SPM), which is converted in to compost fertilizer.
Production of composed fertilizer from lingocellulosic residues of by-products of sugar industries
is found to be worthy for maintaining health of plant
and soil properties and protects the plant from
various soil borne diseases. In this research paper, an
experimental large scale composting of SPM on trial
basis is discussed.
In many areas SPM is directly transported to
the fields from sugar mills as an organic
enhancement to fields. Due to this practice, cane
sugar yield has been increased causing decrease in
demand of inorganic fertilizers. [2] Being a flexible
crop, sugarcane is a rich source of:
(a) Fiber containing cellulose material
(b) Food containing sucrose, fructose, syrups
and jaggery
(c) Fodder made from green leaves and top of
cane, molasses, bagass, sugar press mud
(d) Fuel from residue/waste of sugar industry

(e) Chemicals like alcohol, bagasse & molasses

There are three main by-products of sugar industry,
which has great economic value:
(a) Sugar press mud (SPM)
(b) Bagasse
(c) Molasses
1.1 Availability in Pakistan:
In Pakistan there are almost 81 sugar mills
of crushing capacity of 6.1 Million tons. Sugarcane is
planted on approximately 1.1 M Hectors producing
5.5 Million tones sugar with an average yield of 51
tones per Hector. In which almost 82-84 % cane is
utilized in sugar industries. Sugar yield in Pakistan is
approximately 4 tones per hector. According to an
estimate Pakistan sugar industry is producing about
1.2-1.8 million tones of SPM every year.

2. Literature survey
For healthier crops and vegetables, organic
fertilizers that have negligible amounts of chemicals
are gaining more attention than chemical fertilizers.
They are preferable because they provide organic
nutrients to plant and enhance the yield. [3][4]
Compost fertilizer improves the microbial properties
of soil and raises the enzymes profile. [5] Sugar press
mud can be composted through degradation of
biological enzymes to improve plant growth and
crops productivity [6]. Organic wastes from sugar
industries like SPM are enriched with Nitrogen and
Phosphorous, which are the main part of nutrients of

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crop [7]. To enhance the yield and growth of wheat,

application of N fixing bacteria, fungi, K solubilizing
bacteria and some microorganisms were reported by
Zadi & Khan [10]. SPM contains 50-70% moisture,
which is very favorable for earthworms as they
breathe through their skin [8]. Organic matter and
available K, Ca, Mg, P contents are also increased by
the addition of organic fertilizer. [9]. Application of
compost fertilizer consisting of many kinds of
microorganisms & Azotobacter were reported by
Gharib et al during his research on enhancing the
total amount of essential oil in sweet marjoram[11].
Akbari et al reported the application of Azospirillum
sp., which is a bacterial specie producing auxin that
abruptly enhanced the wheat root system [12].

3. Compost Fertilizer:
3.1 Sugar press Mud:
Sugar press mud (SPM) is also termed as
press mud cake or filter cake. During the processing
of sugarcane, cane juice contains a large number of
impurities which are in the form of precipitates and
these impurities are separated using filtration process.
Both types of filtration processes i.e. batch type filter
presses or rotary vacuum filtration process or,
produces cake. SPM produced during extraction of
sugar as an impurity has multiplex uses like as a
fertilizer, animal feed and industrial use as a building
lime after calcinations process.
Composition of SPM varies with different industries
by the following factors:
(a) Classification methods
(b) Variety of cane
(c) Locality
(d) Mill efficiency
(e) Soil type
(f) Nutrients available
This SPM is produced at a rate of 7-9% of
total weight of sugar cane in Carbonation industries
and 3-5 % in sulfitation industries. The composition
of SPM used to produce biofertilizer is listed in Table
Crude wax
Crude protein

Silicon, Iron, Manganese, Calcium, MgO &

P2O5 is also detected in some appreciable amount in
SPM. Compost fertilizer is always evaluated by the
percentage of organic matters in the final product.
Organic matter contains all types of fiber, wax, crude
proteins sugar, and all other carbon containing
components available in the final product.
3.2 Molasses:
During production of sugar, the by-product is
Molasses. It is a viscous liquid which is separated
from masecuite. An average of 23 Liter of Molasses
is produced per ton of sugar cane. In Pakistan around
2.5 million metric tons (MMT) of molasses is
produced which has multiplex uses like production of
alco-chemical & ethanol, commercial purposes such
as alcohols and automobile fuel.
The composition of molasses has
considerable variation depending on the same factors
as discuses above in the SPM compositions. The
composition of molasses used to produce biofertilizer
is listed in Table 2.


Table 2: Percentage of nutrients present in Molasses

3.3 Digestion process:

In case of aerobic digestion like composting,
the microorganisms present in the pile get free
oxygen from the air or its surrounding. Aerobic
process results in CO2 and water. If the biodegradable
starting material contains nitrogen, phosphorous and
sulfur then the end product of aerobic process may
also include their oxidized forms. Pile releases
energy due to the oxidization of CO2 and water in
aerobic digestion. Aerobic digestion contains those
microorganisms (fungi etc) which enhance the
composting process than anaerobic bacteria. Stable
products are formed by the aerobic digestion due to
reduction in mass and volume. Straws in the SPM

are also digested and converted into powder

form after 14-21 days piling process.

Table 1: Percentage of nutrients present in sugar press mud

Glucose & Fructose
Calcium and Potassium
Non-sugar compounds
Other mineral contents

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SSP + Sulfur Mud


Piling + Mixing

Granulation Unit


Screening Unit

Rock Phosphate

Packaging Unit

Distribution Unit
Figure 1: Block diagram of process description of Compost
fertilizer Production

4. Process Description:
Production of compost fertilizer is very
simple process as described in block diagram in
figure 1. These experiments and production are done
in Lyallpur Chemical and Fertilizer (Pvt) Ltd,
Jaranvala. Sugar press mud (SPM) and Molasses are
obtained directly from nearby sugar mills i.e.
Hussain Sugar Mill and Shaker Ganj Sugar Mill,
Jhang. SPM obtained from both industries have
different content of organic matter. It is the main raw
material and it contains 40-50% of organic matter.
4.1 Raw Materials Description:
For the production of bio-fertilizer raw
materials used are Sugar Press Mud (SPM), Local
Rock phosphate, Molasses, Single Super Phosphate
(SSP) & some amount of sulfur mud. The complete
specifications are given in Table 3.
Raw Material
Sugar Press Mud
Sulfur Mud


Percentage %



Table 3: Raw material specifications in terms of fractions

& percentages

Local Rock Phosphate of -200 mesh (80%)

is used in composting process. It is not taking part in
any reaction or during digestion process. Molasses is
used 0.5% of total raw material. If it is increased
from 0.5% then it will give the whitish color in the
product which shows its excess.
4.2 Testing of Raw Materials:
Following tests raw materials and products are
carried out before processing:
Maturity/stability of compost
Carbon test
Moisture test
PH test
Maturity/Stability of Compost: For stability of
compost, Solvita kit test was carried out on
laboratory scale to estimate the CO2 and NH3
contents by a colorimetric gel enclosed in a plastic
container which is fixed with paddle. Container was
marked at the filing point of material which is to be
tested for approximately 4-5 hours at room
temperature. The color of the gel was changed. This
color change was then compared with the chart
available and recorded. Seed germination tests were
also done, in which the compost fertilizer was tested
on seeds of many crops and their effect was
compared with other types of chemical fertilizers.
Carbon Test/Organic matter: Organic matter in
SPM contains carbonaceous material which is tested

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through Carbon Test. Sample of SPM is heated in

the furnace up to 450oC for 30 min. Organic matter
starts burning when the temperature reaches to 250C
and completely burned at 450C. And then by
subtracting the initial weight from the final weight,
amount of organic matter is obtained as shown in
Figure 1.

Figure 2: Turner mixing the compost and watering during

piling of compost.[2]

Figure 1: Effect of temperature on orgnaic matter

Moisture Test: The sample is placed in an oven and

heated at 100-1030C for about 160 mins. Then the
moisture contents are calculated by subtracting the
final weight of sample from initial weight.
PH test:
PH test of molasses was carried out and found it 5.1
Density test:
Density test of molasses was also carried out and
found to be 11.7lb/gal.
4.3 Processing:
This experiment was done in open air
atmospheric conditions at a temperature of 30-35 0C.
First the SPM, local rock phosphate, SSP and sulfur
mud with the specifications given in Table 1, were
mixed thoroughly and piled of approximately 100110 ft in length above ground level, 3-4 ft in width
and 2-2.5 ft high in semicircle shape. These piles
were given time to be composited and to complete
digestion process for about 14-21 days. During
piling, the mixture was mixed, turned and watered
after every three days to maintain moisture content of
50-60 %. A turner was used for turning process to
maintain uniformity and thoroughly mixing as shown
in Figure 2.
Granulation Unit:
The compost mixture from the digestion unit
is then sent to granulation unit. Here molasses (0.5 %
of total raw material) and water are sprayed before
entering the dryer for the formation of granules. A
horizontal Rotary dryer is used to form granules at a
temperature of 240-250 0C.

Screening Unit:
After granulation of compost, it is sent to
screening unit. Average size of the bio-fertilizer
should be of 5mm diameter for the ease of farmer and
good quality granule. Oversize and undersize
granules are recycled again to dryer unit. This
screening unit is same as the screening process used
for SSP screening. Product of required size is sent to
Packaging unit where it is packed in the bags through
auto-filling. And then finally product is sent to
distribution unit.
Testing of final product:
After the production of bio-fertilizer it is tested; 25%
of organic matter is present in the final product and
amount of molasses present is 0.5%.

5. Results:
Bio-fertilizer as a final product is shown in fig 3.

Figure 3: Final product of compost fertilizer

Final product contains 25% organic matter.

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Bio-fertilizer produced is high in phosphorous

contents due to the addition of SSP and local rock
phosphate as both contain 18.5% and 30-32% P2O5
Granules of bio-fertilizer produced are of good
quality and spherical in shape due to the addition of
Rock phosphate. If it is not added or added in lesser
amount, granules will not stay in spherical shape and
will easily be de-shaped due to less stiffness.
If it is added in excess quantity then the granule
become so stiff; cannot be easily soluble in water.
During Piling, a significant change in moisture
contents was seen during digestion process. In order
to keep 50-60% moisture in the pile watering was
carried out.

It enhances the fertility of land and increase the yield

of crops by improving the nutrient conditions of soil.
Bio-fertilizer gives significant results when it is
mixed with inorganic fertilizer according to the
requirements of different crops.

[1] R.L.YADAV and S.SOLOMON(2006). Potential of
Developing Sugarcane By-product Based Industries in
India.Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, P.O. Dilkusha,
Rae Bareli Road, Lucknow-226 002, India Pp. 104-111.
Potential of developing Sugarcane by-products based industry in
India, R.L.Yadev and S.Solomon, Sugar Tech 8(2&3) (2006):
[2] Sugar Tech (2010) 12(1) : 15-20, Windrow composting of
sugarcane and coffee byproducts, C. Rolz R. de Len R.
Cifuentes C. Porres.

During digestion process even cane straws present in

SPM were converted in to particles after completion
of digestion process.

[3]Shu YY, Soil Sci. Plant Nutr., 51, 443-449 (2005).

Whitish color appeared in the final product due to

addition of excess amount of molasses as shown in
Figure 4.

[5]Bulluk LR, Brosius M, Evanylo GK, and Rastaino JB, Apll. Soil
Ecol.,19, 147-160 (2002).

[4]Zhu P, Ren J, Wang L, Zhang X, Yang X, and Tavish DM, J.

Plant Nutr., Soil Sci., 170, 219-233 (2007).

[6]Shivani Chaturvedi & Balraj Singh & Lata Nain, Ann

Microbiol (2010) 60:685691
[7]Narval et al. 1990; Raman et al. 1999
[8] Domnguez J and Edwards CA, Effects of stocking rate and
moisture content on the growth and maturation of Eisenia Andrei
(Oligochaeta) in pigmanure. Soil Biol Biochem 29:743746 (1997).
[9] Edmeades DC, Nutr. Cycle Agroecosyst., 66, 165-180 (2003).
[10] Zaidi A and Khan MDS, J. Plant Nutr., 28, 2079-2092 (2005).
[11] Gharib FA, Moussa LA, and Massoud ON, Int. J. Agric. Biol.,
10, 381-387 (2008).
[12] Akbari GA, Arab SM, Alikhani HA, Allandadi I, and Azanesh
MH, World J. Agric. Sci., 3, 523-529 (2007).

Figure 4: Whitish color appears in the final product due to

addition of excess amount of Molasses

Key advantages of aerobic digestion/composting as

compared to anaerobic digestion are:

Enhanced fungi activity

Low capital equipment cost and
Simple operational control

Bio-fertilizer reduces the hardness of soil and makes
it more porous due to the presence of organic matter,
phosphate, sulfur and other minerals.

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E-mail address: