Suitability of Porous Inorganic Materials from Industrial Residues and Bioproducts for Use in Horticulture: A Multidisciplinary Approach
This study follows a circular economy approach through the preliminary implementation of a coated porous inorganic material (PIM), studied as sustainable controlled release fertilizer, and its application for lettuce Lactuca sativa L. cultivar Chiara growth. The PIM was made of pumice scraps that partially replaced clay as a natural raw material, spent coffee grounds as a porous agent, bovine bone ash and potassium carbonate to provide phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) nutrients, respectively. A
... coating made with defatted black soldier fly prepupae biomass was used as a nitrogen (N) source. Most of the ingredients used were industrial residues, with the aim of valorizing the raw waste materials present locally. The suitability of PIMs as a fertilizer was investigated with an interdisciplinary approach, which included the first chemical and physical characterization of the material, the evaluation of its antibacterial properties and of its use in horticulture through lettuce growth tests. As tests were carried out indoors, a specific LED lighting device was used to grow the lettuce. The release of nutrients into the soil was estimated by measuring the main elements in the fertilizers before and after their use in the soil. The first results from this characterization study support PIMs' suitability for agronomic applications. The use of the PIMs suggested average higher dry weight (49%), fresh weight (112%), and leaf area (48%), compared to those with the use of a standard fertilizer soil, without the release of any dangerous element for the plant in the soil. These results are a promising beginning for the development of further studies already in progress on sustainable controlled-release fertilizers.