Production of Organic Compost from Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes [Mart.] Solms) in the Lake Victoria Basin: A Lake Victoria Research Initiative (VicRes)
The Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) supports one of the poorest and most populous rural populations in the East Africa region. The dipping fish population has forced the community around the Lake Victoria to turn to farming for food crops to meet its daily food demands. Chemical fertilizer which is readily available has been the alternative source of improving soil condition which has led to eutrophication of the lake waters causing the temperature to rise in the process affecting most freshwater animals and plants. This process also encourages large volumes of algae and other biomass such as water hyacinth to flourish. The use of the algae bloom and water hyacinth to provide an alternative ecologically friendly and sustainable source of soil nutrients is imperative. This study utilized water hyacinth (H) to develop compost as a
potential soil improvement source. Using four different composting treatments of water hyacinth biomass (H only control, H+ cattle manure, H+EM, H+ Molasses) there was no significant difference in the assessed nutrients at P<0.05 in the various treatment. There was though a higher increase in P at a non-significant level at P<0.05 in H control, H+ cattle manure, H+EM compared with the H+ Molasses treatment. H+ Cattle Manure and H control treatment also generated high K levels and relative to the other treatments. Overall the project exhibited high level of P, N and exchangeable K in the four hyacinth compost treatment with an alkaline pH of between 7.38-8.13. The project also determined the optimal composting conditions with highest temperature of about 38oC observed at day 5 to 20 from the onset of the decomposition all the treatments. The temperature stabilized at about 24oC till the 58th day. Resulting in increase of essential elements in Water Hyacinth Organic compost makes it an important source for control of acidic soil pH and soil nutrient replenisher.