Abstract— Cotton production is an important primary industry in Australia. However, the industry faces several challenges, including access to fresh water, disposal of cotton waste, and the ability of Australian soil to sustain pesticide-intensive cultivation. Research programs into a variety of techniques aimed at amending soil with fertilisers, particularly those produced from novel organic sources rather than industrial fertilisers, have also been developed. This paper therefore considered the relationship of worm castings produced from a municipal vermicomposting facility and a modified form of alumina refinery residue (MARR) as a possible nutrient source for cotton farming, and examined their combined potential as a biological fertiliser to amend agricultural soil and improve cotton yields. The study found the addition of MARR enhanced the chemical and biological properties of worm castings, for example improving caution exchange capacity and increasing the total microbial biomass of castings by 38%, and the combined effect of applying 240 L/ha of this non-traditional organic fertiliser increased cotton yields by 9% over a nine-week growing period.
Keywords— Cotton farming, vermicomposting, worm castings, alumina refinery residue, soil amendment.
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