Transformation of organic matter during co-composting of pig manure with sawdust

G. F. Huang, Q. T. Wu, Jonathan W C WONG*, B. B. Nagar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

328 Citations (Scopus)


Co-composting of pig manure with sawdust was studied in order to characterize the organic transformation during the process, using both chemical and spectroscopic methods. Humic acids (HA) and fulvic acids (FA) were fractionated from immature and mature pig manure compost, and characterized. After 63 days of composting, the ratio of total organic carbon and soluble organic carbon decreased to a satisfactory low level and the solid and soluble C/N ratios decreased rapidly for the first 35 days before attaining a constant value, indicating compost maturity. Humification could be responsible for the increase in humic acid proportion during composting. The increase in the aromatic bonds after composting, as indicated by the reduction of C/H and C/O ratios of HA and FA, resulted in a more stabilized product. A substantial increase in high molecular weight compounds along with a small increase in low molecular weight compounds was found in mature compost. Moreover the HA also had more complex organic compounds at this stage. Fluorescence spectral analysis showed an increase in the maximum wavelength of HA associated with the contents of aromatic structures in solution. A decrease in relative absorbance of HA at 1160 cm-1, 2950 cm-1 and 2850 cm-1 was seen in the FTIR spectra indicating the decomposition of complex organic constituents, into simpler ones. Increase in the aromatic compounds with higher stability could account for the relative increase in the absorbance of HA at 1650 cm-1 and 1250 cm-1 of the mature compost. The composition of FA was not much altered, indicating most of the degradation of organic matter occurred in HA. Data from organic carbon, C/N ratio, elemental analysis, E4/E6 ratio, gel chromatography, fluorescence and FTIR spectra indicated an increase in polycondensed structures and the presence of more stable organic matter in the mature compost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1834-1842
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal

User-Defined Keywords

  • Composting
  • Humic substances
  • Pig manure
  • Sawdust


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