Assessing processing waste from the sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii) fishery as an organic fertilizer
Campus, P and Swarts, ND and Mundy, C and Keane, JP and Gardner, C, Assessing processing waste from the sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii) fishery as an organic fertilizer, Agronomy, 12, (12) Article 2919. ISSN 2073-4395 (2022) [Refereed Article]
The longspined sea urchin, Centrostephanus rodgersii, is a climate-driven pest species in south-eastern Australia. The harvest of this species is highly encouraged and in Tasmania, the existing fishery is expanding resulting in a large amount of waste that needs disposal. Research into use of waste products as inputs for organic or biodynamic farming systems can help reduce costs of disposal and keep the industry profitable; by sustaining or incrementing sea urchin harvest the industry can assist in their control. In the current study, urchin waste was dried and finely ground to a powder and applied to tomato plants in a greenhouse to examine the effect on growth and productivity. Urchin waste powder (UWP) had a mineral composition of Ca (40 g 100 g−1), Mg (1.7 g 100 g−1), P (0.03 g 100 g−1), Fe (19.34 mg kg−1) and B (38 mg kg−1), a pH 8.06 in water and an Electrical Conductivity (EC) value of 7.64 dSm−1. Seven different treatment rates of UWP (0.3%; 0.5%; 0.8%; 1%; 2%; 3%; 5%), were added to 10 replicate pots containing 4 kg nutrient-poor potting mix planted with tomato (Variety K1) seedlings. Plant growth, yield, quality attributes and mineral content of tomato were measured under UWP treatments with comparison against a Hoagland solution control. UWP influenced tomato growth and productivity proportional to the quantity applied, however, the Hoagland solution control had a significantly greater yield. Potting mix pH increased from 6.8 to 7 and higher available P was detected in potting mix receiving higher rates of UWP. No phytotoxic effects were detected. The highest UWP treatment matched the Hoagland control in fruit quality and nutritional composition. Processing waste from the sea urchin fishery has potential as organic fertiliser or amendment providing plant-available Ca and some microelements such as Boron.