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Sugarcane press mud

Description and recommendations

Common names

Sugarcane filter press mud, sugarcane pressmud, sugarcane filter cake mud, sugarcane filtercake, sugarcane filter mud, scum


Sugarcane press mud is the residue of the filtration of sugarcane juice. The clarification process separates the juice into a clear juice that rises to the top and goes to manufacture, and a mud that collects at the bottom. The mud is then filtered to separate the suspended matter, which includes insoluble salts and fine bagasse. There are 3 types of filters: the press filters (used in carbonatation factories), mechanical filters and rotary vacuum filters (Hugot, 1986). The yield of filter cake is variable, from 1 to 7 kg (wet basis) / 100 kg of cane (van der Poel et al., 1998). With a (conservative) yield of 2 % and a total production of 1700 million t (in 2009, from FAO, 2011), the world output of fresh filter press mud can be estimated to be about 30 million t.

This industrial waste is mostly used as soil conditioner, soil fertilizer and for wax production. Other industrial applications are reported (cement and paint manufacturing, foaming agent, composting aid for bagasse etc.) and it has been used as human food in poor families (van der Poel et al., 1998). In animal production, it has been used as feed ingredient, notably in ruminants, for its sugar and mineral content, and as a compacting agent for ensiling (van der Poel et al., 1998).


Sugarcane press mud is produced in sugarcane mills and its distribution is that of cane sugar production, with Brazil, India and China representing 75 % of the world production (FAO, 2011).


Ideally, soil particles should be removed from the mixed juice before clarification. In order to avoid deterioration by fungi and bacteria, the press mud should be dried or fed immediately. Drying can be achieved with a drum drier to bring down moisture to about 15 % and pelletization can reduced it to 10 % for storage (LeGrand, 1979, cited by Chen et al., 1993).

Environmental impact

Large amounts of press mud are released by the sugarcane industry and the disposal of this by-product is a major issue. In many cases press mud is burnt in brick kilns resulting in the loss and wastage of millions of tonnes of nutrients through burning, which ultimately degrades the environment. One common utilization is to use it as a fertilizer, in unprocessed or processed form. Processes used to improve its fertilizing value include composting, treatment with microorganisms and mixing with distillery effluents (Nasir, 2006).

Potential constraints

No particular problems have been reported on using sugarcane press mud in animal feeding. However, the experience on feeding it to livestock is scarce and caution is therefore required, considering that it is a mineral-rich filtration residue that could contain undesirable substances. For instance, certain samples were found to contain relatively high amounts of copper (from 500 to 5700 mg/kg in van der Poel et al., 1998), which could be problematic for sheep.

Nutritional attributes

Filter cake has a highly variable composition due to the different technologies involved. The nature of precipitation or flocculation aids, temperature and the fineness of the filtration process are all factors that influence its composition. The product may be fresh (60-80 % water) or dried. Protein content and sugars are both in the 5-15 % DM range. It can also contain important amounts of fibre (probably due to the 15-30 % of fine bagasse). Ash content is comprised between 9 and 20 %, but some press cakes may contain up 60 % mineral matter, a large part of it being silicium. Calcium content is comprised between 1 and 9 % (van der Poel et al., 1998). The content of protein, sugar and fibre makes filter press mud a potential feed ingredient, but actual feed trials are scarce (Budeppa et al., 2009).

In India, a filter press cake containing more than 30 % Ca (which is a highly unusual value) was proposed as a potential Ca source for livestock (Lall et al., 1989).

Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value


Filter press mud as a feed

In Cuba, dried filter press mud has been used as a filler in ruminant maintenance diets at a level of 10-30%, along with poultry manure, final molasses, ground cane, urea and minerals. For this purpose the filter mud is sun-dried or dried using heat from chimney escape gases at the sugar factory (Perez, 1990). Dairy cows were fed up to 15 % (diet DM) filter press mud (containing 13 % crude fibre, 8.8 % crude protein and 31.7 % ash) replacing forage, with positive effects on dairy performance (milk yield, fat content, non-fat solids), daily live weight gain, DM intake and ME intake (Rodriguez et al., 1973).

Filter press mud as a ensiling agent

In Cuba, filter press mud has been used as a compacting and wetting agent in surface silos where 60 % of cane by-products is ensiled together with 38 % of filter mud and 2 % urea. Since the cane by-products contains 60-70 % DM, the filter mud with 30 % DM and granular consistency contributes the needed moisture and texture to ensure optimum silage (Perez, 1990).


With a MEn value of 8.85 MJ/kg DM, sugarcan press mud was considered to be a potential low-energy feed ingredient in poultry diets in Sri Lanka (Rajaguru et al., 1985). In the Philippines, dried filter press mud (6.6 % crude protein) was fed at 10 % in poultry rations (Abrigo et al., 1986).


Press mud has a chemical composition similar to that of cattle dung, which is very common fish pond fertilizer in India. When fertilizing ponds of common carps (Cyprinus carpio), 10 t/ha of press mud was found to be optimal for fish growth and survival. A significant effect of press mud on carcass protein was observed. Organoleptic quality of both raw flesh and cooked meat of carp was not affected by the addition of press mud (Keshavanath et al., 2005).

In China, a carp and dace feed ingredient has been produced from fodder yeast grown on a substrate of hydrolysed bagacillo (waste from paper manufacture from sugarcane bagasse) and filter press mud (replacing up to 2/3 of wheat bran). This ingredient could replace up to 60 % of the control feed and increased growth performances (Yu, 1990).


Tran G., 2012. Sugarcane press mud. A programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. Last updated on September 14, 2012, 8:19


Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 26.0 1
Crude protein % DM 10.4 1
Crude fibre % DM 12.1 1
Ether extract % DM 10.9 1
Ash % DM 23.9 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 16.4 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 71.1 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 11.6 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Göhl, 1970

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:10

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 15.1 1
Crude fibre % DM 21.4 1
Ether extract % DM 7.5 1
Ash % DM 14.2 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.1 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 26.3 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 11.1 1
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 56.5 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 10.2 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Schulthess, 1967

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:35



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Budeppa, H. B. ; Reddy, B. S. C. ; Suresh, B. N., 2009. Screening sugarcane press mud as a source of minerals. Indian Vet. J., 86 (3): 323 web icon
Chen, J. C. P. ; Chou, Chung-Chi, 1993. Cane sugar handbook: a manual for cane sugar manufacturers and their chemists. John Wiley and Sons, 1090 p. web icon
FAO, 2011. FAOSTAT. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations web icon
Göhl, B., 1970. Animal feed from local products and by-products in the British Caribbean. Rome, FAO. AGA/Misc/70/25
Hugot E., 1986. Handbook of cane sugar engineering. 3rd ed. Elsevier (translated by G. H. Jenkins)
Keshavanath, P. ; Shivanna; Gangadhara, B., 2005. Evaluation of sugarcane by-product pressmud as a manure in carp culture. Bioresource Technol., 97 (4): 628-634 web icon
Lall, D. ; Prasad, T., 1989. Compositional quality of certain unconventional calcium and phosphorus sources in India for use as mineral supplements for livestock. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol., 23 (4): 343-348 web icon
LeGrand, F., 1979. No title. Sugar, February 1979, p. 19-22
Monroy, O. ; Torres, F. ; Viniegra, G., 1980. Perspectives on the integration of livestock production and the small scale sugar industry. Trop. Anim. Prod., 5 (2): 96-106 web icon
Nasir, N. M., 2006. Better Management Practices for cotton and sugarcane. WWF - Pakistan, Ferozepur Road, Lahore - 54600, Pakistan web icon
Perez, R., 1990. Intensive livestock production systems based on local resources in Cuba. In: Developing World Agriculture. Speedy, A.W. (ed.), Grosvenor Press International, London. pp. 230-237
Rajaguru, A. S. B. ; Ravindran, V., 1985. Metabolisable energy values for growing chicks of some feedstuffs from Sri Lanka. J. Sci. Food Agric., 36 (1): 1057-1064 web icon
Rodriguez, V. ; Gonzalez, S., 1973. The use of filter cake mud in integral diets for milk production. Cuban J. Agric. Sci., 7 (1): 29-32
Schulthess, M., 1967. Unpublished data. Unknown source
van der Poel, P. W. ; Schiweck, H. ; Schwartz, T., 1998. Sugar technology. Beet and cane sugar manufacture. Verlag Dr. Albert Martens KG, Berlin, 1005 p.
Yu, B. G., 1990. Protein feed granules from bagacillo for fish farming. Sugar y Azúcar, 85 (11): 30-40 web icon

Image credits

Image credits

Picture title Credits License
Sugarcane processing and byproducts Valérie Heuzé / AFZ CC BY 3.0