Organic Waste in Newfoundland and Labrador: A Review of Available Agriculture, Fishery, Forestry and Municipal Waste Literature

Butler, Lesley and Altdorff, Daniel and Young, Erika and Galagedara, Lakshman and Hawboldt, Kelly and Helleur, Robert J. and Unc, Adrian (2017) Organic Waste in Newfoundland and Labrador: A Review of Available Agriculture, Fishery, Forestry and Municipal Waste Literature. Research Report. Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Re-utilisation of organic waste is globally widely employed to maximise both economic and environmental sustainability of human activities. Re-utilisation of organic waste nutrients of biochars produced from such wastes do offer a critical element for enhancing soil fertility and thus supporting sustainable agriculture. Newfoundland and Labrador produces a variety of organic waste streams ranging from municipal to farm, fishery and timber production. We carried out a best estimate of the amount of these waste streams with a goal to understand the potential utility of each as a source of nutrients or biochar for sustaining agricultural activities in the province. Municipal sources, i.e. municipal organic waste streams and wastewaters, and fishery waste were estimated to offer the largest potential for nutrient recovery. Dairy industry is the largest producer of nutrient rich organic waste among agricultural activities. The dairy industry might possibly produce most of the nutrients required to fertilise their own land base; note that the dairies in the province still import a significant portion of their feed and that is reflected in the waste stream. Nutrients currently available in the estimated waste streams are likely sufficient to support most fertilisation needs of the current land-base, or nearly double the current land base in the case of phosphorus. Given the estimated balance of waste nutrients in the province any expansion in agricultural land base would require supplementary imports of fertilizers or, preferably, an integrated livestock and crop agriculture expansion. A secondary estimation was carried out to assess the value of the same organic waste streams for biochar production. This offered an alternative to nutrient reutilisation, an alternative that is also in support of soil fertility. Sawmill waste, that carried little nitrogen and phosphorus value, was also included in biochar estimates. The assessment has shown a significant potential for biochar production mainly for fishery and municipal organic waste. However, pursuing a biochar agenda for these materials would require a trade-off with the nutrients lost during pyrolysis. The assessment presented here confirms that organic wastes are a valuable resource for agricultural production and sustainability. However specific decisions would require a more detailed analysis of the geographic integration of waste streams and agricultural production.

Item Type: Report (Research Report)
Item ID: 12512
Additional Information: 2015-16 Harris Centre - MMSB Waste Management Applied Research Fund
Department(s): Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of
Date: January 2017
Date Type: Publication
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
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