We all know plants need nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus. To give crops a boost, they are often put on fields as fertilizer. But we never talk about where the nutrients themselves come from.
Phosphorus, for example, is taken from the Earth, and in just 100-250 years, we could be facing a terrible shortage. That is, unless scientists can find ways to recycle it.
Scientists at Tel Hai College and MIGAL Institute in Israel are working on a way to make phosphorus fertilizer from an unlikely source — dairy wastewater.
Additionally, they are taking the element from the wastewater with another unlikely character. They are using the leftovers that comes from making clean drinking water, which contain the element aluminum.
“The material left after purification, called aluminum water treatment residue, is normally taken to a landfill to be buried,” says Michael “Iggy” Litaor, who led this work. “We changed this material by mixing it with dairy wastewater rich with phosphorus and organic matter. We then found it can be just as good as common fertilizers.”
The benefits of the practice could go beyond recycling the element. Putting too much of the commercially available fertilizers on fields can hurt the quality of water nearby.
Source: Where there’s waste there’s fertilizer