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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 3, p. 1081-1087
    Received: Apr 21, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): s.kroening@andar.co.nz
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Variation in and Constraints upon the Decomposition of Woolscour Sludge

  1. S. J. Kroening *a,
  2. L. G. Greenfielda and
  3. W. M. Williamsonb
  1. a School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
    b Landcare Research New Zealand Limited, PO Box 69, Lincoln 8512, New Zealand


The woolscouring (wool washing) industry has traditionally been viewed as highly polluting and, consequently, effluent treatment systems have been sought. The first stage in the current treatment system for woolscour wastewater, a chemical flocculation process (Sirolan CF), creates a sludge composed of soil and wool grease. We investigated the chemical and biological characteristics of this sludge. The sludge was found to be highly variable on a day to day basis in terms of its chemical composition and biodegradability; 0.8 to 27.8% of sludge total nitrogen was mineralized over 30 d at 37°C. The grease component of sludge (14–40% on a dry weight basis) may retard the decomposition of the sludge but the polyacrylamide flocculant used in its production and its pesticide content had no effect on the rate of decomposition. Our results suggest that variability in substrate quality may translate into variability in treatment performance and have important implications for the biological treatment of industrial wastes, including composting.

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Copyright © 2004. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA