Using Distillery Spent Wash in Sodic Land Reclamation

Using Distillery Spent Wash in Sodic Land Reclamation

By Dr. Yashpal Singh

For other topics related to the Distillery Sector and a review based on more than 350 publications  covering Indian Distillery Industry, Manufacturing Process, Composition of Effluents, Environmental Impacts, Treatment Technologies, Utilization of Spent Wash In Agriculture, Impact On Soil, Crops And Yield, Pre-Sown Land Application, Ferti-Irrigation, Bio Composting, Soil Reclamation, International Practices in The Utilization of Spent Wash in Agriculture, Major Provisions of The Environment, Forest and Pollution Control Laws in India, Environmental Performance Rating, Major Policy Interventions and The Views Of The Honorable NGT On Sustainable Technology Adoption see Singh Yashpal 2020, Distillery Spent Wash and Its Utilization in Agriculture. Publisher РThe Wealthy Waste School India. ISBN No. 978-93-5396-249-4. Pages 1 to 360 (Available at Amazon and Kindle Books)

Soil sodicity is characterised by high pH and water soluble and exchangeable sodium. The basic principle in the reclamation of sodic soils is to replace the Na+ ions from soil exchange sites by cations like H+, Ca++ and Mg++ ions.

It is accepted that the acidic nature of raw spent wash and the fairly good amount of Ca++ and Mg++ in it can be exploited for the reclamation of sodic soils by replacing the sodium ions from sodic soil. Application of distillery waste water to sodic soils has been observed to improve the physical properties namely bulk density and hydraulic conductivity in sodic soils.  Exchangeable sodium percentages have been reported to come down from 100 to 2 in the top 15 cm soils. Among the available amendment, gypsum is the cheapest. Iron pyrites, Sulphur and Ferrous sulphate are also used. Spent wash can replace these, particularly round sugar mills and distilleries in the reclamation of sodic soils. Some authors have held that application of spent wash followed by irrigation rather than the dilution of spent wash at the time of its application work very effectively in the reclamation of sodic soils. An improvement in saturated hydraulic conductivity, soil permeability and reduction in bulk density of the soils has been noticed over these attributes in the control. Untreated spent wash should generally be used for soils having a pH of 8.5 to 10. Experiments have revealed a tremendous increase in the availability of N, P, K, S, Zn, Cu, Fe and Mn in spent wash amended soils. By serving as a source of food for many soil bacteria, spent wash amendment helps in the rapid buildup of soil microorganisms and consequently increases the acidity of many enzymes. It may also assist in the conversion of unavailable native soil nutrients into available nutrients particularly P and micro nutrients and in the formation of relatively stable chelates with organic ligands. Application should generally be exercised with caution and areas in the vicinity of open/bore well/lakes which are used for purposes of drinking avoided. Continuous application on the same plot of land has to be minutely evaluated.

Some workers have concluded that because of the acidic nature (pH 3.5 to 4.0) untreated spent wash could be used in the reclamation of non saline sodic soil and that the potential of distillery spent wash to supply H+ (Since it is highly acidic), Ca++ and Mg++ have been used as a basic principle to reclaim the sodic soil (i.e. to replace the Na+ ions in the soil exchange complex.

A step wise sodic soil reclamation procedure has been attributed to the Agricultural Research Communication Center.  This includes-

  1. Dividing the land into compartments of convenient size.
  2. Ploughing the land
  3. Applying distillery spent wash evenly at 500 KL per Ha.
  4. Impound water to a depth of 10-15 cm after 7 days.
  5. Draining after 24 hours
  6. Repeating of impounding water and draining two to three times.
  7. Ploughing at optimal moisture level
  8. Application of well decomposed FYM or composted press mud @ 5 T per Ha.
  9. Sowing/Transplanting after 60 days of spent wash application.

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