Examining the Quality of a Compost Product Derived from Sargassum (Sargassum fluitans and Sargassum Natans)
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The free-floating algae known as sargassum (Sargassum fluitans and Sargassum natans) drifts onto coastlines throughout the Atlantic during spring and summer months. Beach communities, such as those along the Texas Gulf Coast, seek to maintain tourist appeal and therefore remove or relocate the sargassum drifts once it collects on shore. Maintenance efforts have attempted to incorporate the sargassum into dunes and beach sand. However, not all communities have the resources to manage the biomass as such and must dispose of the biomass in a landfill. The utility of the seaweed biomass as a fertilizer for plant growth has been renowned for centuries. Composting practices can manage this biomass in an efficient manner without the need to landfill. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the appropriate proportion of sargassum (Sargassum fluitans and Sargassum natans) to other compost ingredients to be used in a large-scale composting system. This study used approximately 32 yard3 of sargassum as part of 96 yard3 of compost material, which also included food waste, fish waste and wood chips. The final compost products were of equal quality to those required by current compost standards. Therefore, this study determined that waste management industries can utilize sargassum as a feedstock through a large-scale composting system to create a desirable compost product that could be used in the horticulture and agriculture industries.