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Sugarcane press mud


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Sugarcane filter press mud, sugarcane pressmud, sugarcane filter cake mud, sugarcane filtercake, sugarcane filter mud, scum [English]; boues de filtration, boues de gâteau de filtration, gâteau de filtration [French]


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 for 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 filter: 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) per 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 (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 by resource-poor families. In animal production, it has been used as feed ingredient, notably for ruminants, because of 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 follows 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 the moisture content to about 15% and pelletizing can further reduce it to 10%, making it suitable 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, which ultimately degrades the environment. A common use is for fertilizer, in both the unprocessed or processed form. Processes used to improve its fertilizer value include composting, treatment with microorganisms and mixing with distillery effluents (Nasir, 2006).

Nutritional aspects
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 usually between 9 and 20%, but some press cakes may contain up to 60% mineral matter, a large part of it being silicon. Calcium content range 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).

Potential constraints 

No particular problems have been reported on using sugarcane press mud in animal feeding. However, the experience of feeding it to livestock is scarce; caution is therefore required because it is a mineral-rich filtration residue that could contain undesirable substances. For instance, some 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.


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%, together 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, milk fat content, milk solids-not-fat), daily live weight gain, DM intake and ME intake (Rodriguez et al., 1973).

Filter press mud as an ensiling agent

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


With an MEn value of 8.85 MJ/kg DM, sugarcane 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 a very common fish pond fertilizer in India. When added to the ponds of common carp (Cyprinus carpio), 10 t/ha of press mud were found to be optimal for fish growth and survival. A significant effect of press mud on carcass protein was also observed. Otherwise 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 replaced up to 60% of the control feed and increased growth performances (Yu, 1990).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

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

Datasheet citation 

Tran G., 2015. Sugarcane press mud. Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://feedipedia.org/node/563 Last updated on May 27, 2015, 18:02

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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