Department of Microbiology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
Agricultural and food industry residues, refuse and wastes constitute a significant proportion of worldwide agricultural productivity. It has variously been estimated that these wastes can account for over 30% of worldwide agricultural productivity. These wastes include lignocellulosic materials, fruit, vegetables, root and tuber wastes, sugar industry wastes as well as animal/livestock and fisheries operations wastes. They represent valuable biomass and potential solutions to problems of animal nutrition and worldwide supply of protein and calories if appropriate technologies can be deployed for their valorization. Moreover, reutilization of these vast wastes should help to address growing global demands for environmentally sustainable methods of production and pollution control.
Various technologies are potentially available for the valorization of these wastes. In addition to conventional waste management processes, other processes that may be used for the reprocessing of wastes include solid substrate fermentation, ensiling and high solid or slurry processes. In particular, the use of slurry processes in the form of (Autothermal) Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion (ATAD or TAD) or liquid composting is gaining prominence in the reprocessing of a variety of agricultural wastes because of its potential advantages over conventional waste reprocessing technologies. These advantages include the capacity to achieve rapid, cost-effective waste stabilization and pasteurization and protein enrichment of wastes for animal feed use.
TAD is a low technology capable of self heating and is particularly suited for use with wastes being considered for upgrading and recycling as animal feed supplement, as is currently the case with a variety of agricultural wastes. It is particularly suited for wastes generated as slurries, at high temperature or other high COD wastes. Reprocessing of a variety of agricultural wastes by TAD has been shown to result in very significant protein
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