Composting as an alternative management strategy for wild taro waste.
Wild taro (Colocasia esculenta) is identified as an invasive species in freshwater regions throughout the southeastern United States as well as Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and India, and thrives in freshwater swamps, streambanks, and riparian areas with rocky crevices that provide strong footholds. Management methods for the plant include using herbicides, mechanical cutting, manual removal, or a combination of methods with disposal into landfills. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential to manage wild taro waste using composting and to test the quality of the resulting compost. This study used ≈12 yard3 of wild taro mixed with food waste and regionally harvested wood chips to create ≈6 yard3 of cured compost. Oven propagule mortality tests determined wild taro propagules exposed to temperatures between 45 and 52°C for a minimum of 3 days were killed. These temperatures were achieved during the active phase of the composting process. The final compost products created were of equal or higher quality to current compost standards. Therefore, this study determined composting and waste management industries can accept and incorporate wild taro as a feedstock to create a desirable compost product for application in the horticulture and agriculture fields rather than managing the species with herbicides and/or other disposal methods.