What is Struvite?

The latest issue of Journal of Environmental Quality (Volume 37, issue 4, pages 1617-1625) carries our paper on struvite in poultry litter (PL). What is struvite and why is it important? Struvite is a magnesium ammonium phosphate with comparably low solubility. It contains two important plant nutrients (P and N), which are slowly released upon application to the soil, and is therefore considered a very good fertilizer.

I was very nervous to get this published because we had found struvite in PL almost five years ago – and failed to identify it correctly. Parallel to my NMR work, several people in our group were using X-ray absorption spectroscopy to characterize natural and treated PL, also oblivious to its presence. When I finally identified it in the XRD (x-ray diffraction) years later, I started wondering, if anybody had ever found struvite in any kind of animal waste. There was a report on it in sheep manure and it had been suggested to precipitate struvite out of liquid waste by adjusting pH and P:Mg ratio.

I found some obscure references to struvite in PL but a closer look at the original literature did not give any data. Since our finding that struvite is a major component in PL is our main point, I was very afraid of being scooped. No reviewer or editor would have accepted this paper if anybody had published some good data before. Lucky us.

Now I am waiting for the readers to point out the papers in obscure journals, that have been published 20 years ago…

It’s NOT Science!

Various people have linked to it and blogged about it. I like Propter Doc’s approach: Don’t link to the lunatics‘ webpage, although it should be no problem to follow links and hints and find the Journal of God in all its … weirdness.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a post by Pharyngula about a „Fake Science Journal“, which piqued my interest. I followed that link and found the above mentioned Journal of God. I think PZ Myers is mistaken. It’s not fake. They take themselves seriously. „Answers in Genesis“ (no link) are publishing a „professional peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework.“ Unbelievable.

Others have written Gigabytes of text about Creationism and its relation to Science (the short answer is: there is none), so I won’t further comment but keep shaking my head.

Chicken Poop: 3 – FeS Nanoparticles: 1

I have just finished the final edits to a new manuscript on phosphorus speciation in poultry litter – chicken shit to the uninitiated. When I submitted the first version of the manuscript some time ago, I vowed that this would be the last paper about excrement. Although I appreciate the fact that my publication list will be bumped up by one sometime during this year, I somehow don’t want to end up an expert on … manure. Sure, I know and always point out in my intro sections, how important it is to understand changes in phosphorus speciation in all kinds of waste prodcuts that are applied routinely to soils. But I am still embarrassed to intruduce myself as a „Fecal Chemist“. No kiddin‘.

But now that this paper is out of the way, I can go back to redox-active nanoparticles and the intriguing roles they play in the cycling of elements or the mobility and bioavailability of contaminants….

Advancing the public understanding of science, one post at a time.