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Jen A. Sembera, Erica J. Meier and Tina M. Waliczek

Massive drifts of sargassum (Sargassum fluitans and Sargassum natans) float onto the United States Gulf, Atlantic, and European shorelines regularly throughout the spring and summer months. To maintain tourist appeal and subsequently, the tourism industry, the standard practice of Texas beach communities has been to mechanically remove the sargassum seaweed and integrate it into dunes along the shoreline or dispose of the material in the landfill. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential to manage the invasive species sargassum using composting and to test the quality of the resulting compost. This study used ≈12 yard3 of sargassum as a feedstock mixed with cafeteria food waste and local wood chips, using a total of ≈72 yard3 of feedstocks, to create nearly 25 yard3 of stabilized compost. The final compost products were of equal or higher quality to current compost standards. Therefore, this study determined that the composting and waste management industries can use sargassum as a feedstock to create a desirable compost product that could be used in the horticulture and agriculture industries, while helping to manage this invasive species.

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Jen A. Sembera, Tina M. Waliczek and Erica J. Meier

Wild taro (Colocasia esculenta) is identified as an invasive species in freshwater regions throughout the southeastern United States as well as Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and India, and thrives in freshwater swamps, streambanks, and riparian areas with rocky crevices that provide strong footholds. Management methods for the plant include using herbicides, mechanical cutting, manual removal, or a combination of methods with disposal into landfills. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential to manage wild taro waste using composting and to test the quality of the resulting compost. This study used ≈12 yard3 of wild taro mixed with food waste and regionally harvested wood chips to create ≈6 yard3 of cured compost. Oven propagule mortality tests determined wild taro propagules exposed to temperatures between 45 and 52 °C for a minimum of 3 days were killed. These temperatures were achieved during the active phase of the composting process. The final compost products created were of equal or higher quality to current compost standards. Therefore, this study determined composting and waste management industries can accept and incorporate wild taro as a feedstock to create a desirable compost product for application in the horticulture and agriculture fields rather than managing the species with herbicides and/or other disposal methods.