Feasibility of the use of recycled nutrients in fast growing pulpwood production
Utanun, Papitchaya (2015)
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The application of pulp and paper mill (PPM) sludge in agriculture and forestry has been acknowledged as soil amendments and a plant nutrient source. The main objectives of this study were to evaluate the total cost of the use of recycled nutrients from PPM sludge in fast growing pulpwood production, and the financial profitability of fast growing pulpwood production with the use of these recycled nutrients. The investment and production costs of fast growing pulpwood plantation were directly acquired from a previous research, while the other data was compiled through different studies. The total cost of the use of PPM sludge was evaluated based on assumed factors. Discounted cash flow method was used to evaluate the financial profitability, using NPV and IRR as indicators. The results of estimated sludge nutrient contents were 16.2 g N, 2.9 g P, and 2.4 g K kg-1 of dry sludge. The sludge application rate was estimated at 1.36 Mg/ha in the first year. The total cost of the use of PPM sludge involved transport and spreading cost of US$49.15/dry ton. The fertilization cost applied in the financial model was designed in 3 different options and their results were as follows: option (1) was taken directly from the reference research (US$97/ha); option (2) was the use of sludge alone (US$66.75/ha); and option (3) was the use of sludge and TSP fertilizer (US$83.80/ha). The average NPV without discounting was US$248,180 while the IRRs ranged between approximately 3-4% with an average of 3.63%. Although option (2) and (3) contributed to higher IRRs compared to option (1), this increase was still not significant as the IRR was not sensitive to the total fertilization cost. The advantages are that this practice can be performed at a lower cost and the application rate can be still increased if necessary. It is better for forest plantations compared to agriculture and consequently supports reforestation program. In addition, it can be similarly applied in wood biomass production. A disadvantage is that the IRRs were not very favorable compared to the criterion of 11%. The sludge high in C:N ratio can cause nitrogen immobilization, and regulatory concerns may restrict and complicate the use of sludge landspreading and contribute to additional costs and processes.
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