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Investigation of the plant availability of the nutrients in modified ashes and slags

Vitalij Dombinov

Brazil is the largest sugarcane producer worldwide harvesting 40 % of the global sugarcane crop in 2014. While the cane juice is used for sugar and ethanol production, the fibrous residue remaining after crushing of canes and juice extraction, the bagasse, is burned for energy production. In 2014, the dry ash produced by burning of bagasse amounted to more than six million tons and the production is still increasing.

Bagasse ashes are alkaline and contain varying amounts of minerals essential for plant nutrition. Since the incineration conditions modify the ashes´ chemical composition and plant nutrient availabilities, the aim of the German – Brazilian project “ASHES” is (i) to find optimal processing conditions for maximizing the bagasse ash nutrient, mainly phosphorus, availabilities for plants and (ii) to increase the ash phosphorus amount and availability by pre- and post-burning modifications.

 Brazilian sugarcane industry. (A) Sugarcane harvest, (B) usina Nova Galia, Brazilian state Goiás, and (C) sugarcane bagasse ash

Our project partners from research and industry realize bagasse ash and bagasse ash-based fertilizer production. At IBG-2, I investigate the phosphorus availability and the effects of various ashes-based fertilizer formulations on sugarcane, soybean and maize growth, composition and performance in greenhouse pot experiments and on the field.