Original Articles

Use of solid waste bagasse from a paper mill as an organic amendment and its effect on some soil properties: a case study

Published in: South African Journal of Plant and Soil
Volume 18, issue 3, 2001 , pages: 128–134
DOI: 10.1080/02571862.2001.10634416
Author(s): J.C. HughesSoil Science, South Africa, S., J.A. GirdlestoneSoil Science, South Africa


At a paper mill in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa bagasse waste was disposed of by burying it in a layer resulting in variable sugar cane growth. The waste was mostly organic fibres, had a high water holding capacity, and contained small amounts of Ca, K, P and N. The soils were sandy with low water holding capacities and organic matter contents. Soil temperatures up to 38°C were measured in treated soils, compared to about 22°C in untreated soils. Treated soils contained more total cations, and variations in the sodium adsorption ratio and electrical conductivity of soil saturation extracts were not great or consistent across sites, suggesting neither excessive soil salinity nor sodicity. Field observations showed that the best cane growth was on soils that had been treated with the waste. Poor growth was found, either on recently treated sites or, on untreated areas within a larger treated area owing to poor distribution of the waste. Changing the method of application to mix the waste into the soil would facilitate decomposition, and avoid the problems of high soil temperatures and the creation of anaerobic conditions which discouraged root growth.

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