Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Comparison of Odorous Volatile Compounds from 14 Different Commercial Composts Using Solid Phase Microextraction

Authors
item Kim, Hyunook - UNIV. OF MARYLAND
item McConnell, Laura
item Millner, Patricia

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASAE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2005
Publication Date: February 2, 2005
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/5481
Citation: Kim, H., McConnell, L.L., Millner, P.D. 2005. Comparison of odorous volatile compounds from 14 different commercial composts using solid phase microextraction. Transactions of the ASAE. 48:315-320.

Interpretive Summary: Odors associated with composts can affect their acceptance in the marketplace. Few studies have been conducted to identify the odorants associated with composts using different feedstocks. In this study, odorous volatile compounds (OVCs) from market-ready, commercial composts supplied by 14 different producers were compared. The products analyzed were derived from a cross-section of the wide array of compost feedstock ingredients used in the U.S., e.g., biosolids, yard trimmings, animal manure, and industrial by-products. A variety of quality assessment tests were performed using test procedures specified in a national certification program offered through the U.S. Composting Council. Measurements of typical odorous chemicals supplemented other quality aspects in the evaluation of stability. Result showed that relatively higher concentrations of reduced sulfur-containing compounds were detected from marketable composts containing sewage sludge than from composts produced with other feedstocks. The greatest amounts of reduced sulfur-containing compounds were detected from compost containing a mixture of industrial sludge and agricultural byproducts. Pathogen indicator microbes for most composts were within limits for Class A (USEPA 40CFR Part503). Very large numbers of fecal coliforms, E. coli, and Enterococcus were present in the compost that produced the greatest concentrations of reduced sulfur chemicals. Composts containing sewage sludge and yard wastes produced relatively higher concentrations of volatile fatty acids than those containing other ingredients. Results in combination with other compost quality factors may help compost producers improve product quality.

Technical Abstract: In this study, odorous volatile compounds(OVCs) from market-ready, commercial composts supplied by 14 different producers were compared using a recently developed method involving solid phase microextraction (SPME) of headspace volatiles followed by GC analysis. The products analyzed were derived from a cross-section of the wide array of compost feedstock ingredients used in the U.S., e.g., biosolids, yard trimmings, animal manure, and industrial by-products. A variety of quality assessment tests were performed using test procedures specified in a national certification program offered through the U.S. Composting Council. Measurements of odorous chemicals, i.e., trimethylamine, carbon disulfide, dimethylsulfide, dimethyldisulfide, propionic acid, and butyric acid, supplemented other quality aspects in the evaluation of stability. Result showed that relatively higher concentrations of reduced sulfur-containing compounds were detected from marketable composts containing sewage sludge than from composts produced with other feedstocks. The greatest amounts of reduced sulfur-containing compounds were detected from a compost containing a mixture of industrial sludge and agricultural byproducts. Pathogen indicator microbes for most composts were within limits for Class A (USEPA 40CFR Part503). Very large numbers of fecal coliforms, E. coli, and Enterococcus were present in the compost that produced the greatest concentrations of carbon disulfide and dimethylsulfide. Composts containing sewage sludge and yard wastes produced relatively higher concentrations of propionic and butyric acids than those containing other ingredients. The composition of OVCs in compost products can be objectively evaluated with the SPME method reported here. Results in combination with other compost quality factors may help compost producers improve product quality.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page