Ameliorating Sisal Leaf Wastes in Purveying Plant Macronutrients
Echessa, A.C. Peter
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Sisal (Agave sisalana) is extensively grown in Kenya. It is a high waste generating crop. Waste disposal has remained a challenge to the sisal processing set ups. The wastes are used as landfills and or are burned to ashes despite being rich in plant macronutrients. Direct use scorches crops due to high acidity. Though composting takes too long before the biomass can be in use, it remains the recognizable approach, The study sought to establish pH trends of decomposing pretreated SLW with a view of seeking approaches to shorten the otherwise long period. Sisal leaf wastes (SLW) from young, mid old and old leaves were soaked in distilled water fresh, sun or shade dried and corresponding pH monitored. Effects of boiling SLW in lye and sodium hydroxide on deterioration were compared. It was established that natural decomposition of SLW is accompanied with a pH change from ≤ 4.8 (acidic) to > 7.5 (basic). SLW from young sisal leaves as well as shade dried ones deteriorated faster compared to those soaked fresh or after sun drying. Those (SLW) boiled in lye had evolution of the biogas earlier than either the fresh or 2M NaOH treated (boiled) samples. The SLW soaked without pretreatment on average took the longest period before biogas was detected. It is apparent from this study that boiling the SLW in an alkali shortens the decomposition period hence enables an easy access to macronutrient. Utilization of SLW in enhancing crop production would be an economical pathway of their disposal.