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Agronomic Benefit of Industrial Biowastes - WR0214

Approximately 7 million tonnes of industrial biowastes are applied annually to land in the UK and with pressure to increase diversion from landfill disposal, this is set to further increase. However, these represent a very diverse and extremely heterogeneous group of materials. This degree of heterogeneity is potentially very problematic in terms of managing nutrient inputs and resources to soil to maximise agronomic benefit and minimise environmental losses. This project redresses the lack of existing knowledge regarding the agronomic behaviour of industrial biowastes applied to land in a programme of field and laboratory experimentation. It evaluates the release of N and other major nutrients from a selected range of biowaste materials, compared to digested sewage sludge and mineral fertiliser. The N fertiliser replacement is defined so that recommendations can be provided to farmers on the optimal use of the waste products to avoid excessive applications of inorganic fertilisers and thus minimise potential risks of nutrient losses to the environment. This could help increase confidence in the positive effects of biowastes on crop yields and soil, reduce fertiliser wastage and the potential environmental impacts of this practice.
The primary objective is to provide an initial scoping study of the nutrient availability properties of industrial biowastes to help optimise their agronomic benefit and recycling to farmland. The specific objectives required to achieve this are as follows:-

Objective 1
To characterise the total and mineral nutrient concentrations in a range of selected industrial biowastes.

Objective 2
To quantify the nitrogen release properties of chosen industrial biowastes in a programme of detailed, systematic field experiments relative to digested sewage sludge and mineral fertiliser use.

Objective 3
To examine the production of other important plant nutrient elements from the selected industrial biowastes, including: P, K, Mg and S.

Objective 4
To determine the influence of soil type and environment on nutrient release behaviour and soil microbial activity by laboratory incubation

Objective 5
To develop a preliminary set of recommendations on the agronomic and nutrient properties and produce an advisory pamphlet.

Objective 6
To develop a framework of proposed research priorities on industrial biowastes for consideration by the Defra Waste and Resources Research Programme.
Project Documents
• Final Report : WR0214 "Agronomic Benefit of Industrial Biowastes" - Final Report   (1215k)
• Final Report : WR0214 "Agronomic Benefit of Industrial Biowastes" - Summary Report   (575k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2007

To: 2008

Cost: £42,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
The Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine
Environmental Protection              
Field Measurements              
Microbial Growth              
Systems for Resource Recovery              
Waste Management              
Fields of Study
Waste Management