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DIGESTATE

Like composting, AD preserves all the nutrients of the organic waste it processes, with an impressive 80% of the total nitrogen in food waste-based digestate readily available for plant uptake. Digestate is an excellent replacement for artificial nitrogen fertiliser and can be used whole or separated into 90% liquid and 10% fibre:

  • The liquid is a nitrogen feed with low levels of organic matter and phosphorous. Trials have shown it to increase germination rates by up to 30%. As a fertiliser, it helps support top and root growth, making it suitable for food growing and turf strengthening.
  • The fibre is ideal as a soil conditioner. It is a good source of phosphorous and slow release nitrogen.

Typical nutrients values are:

  • Nitrogen: 2.3 - 4.2 kg/tonne
  • Phosphorous: 0.2 - 1.5 kg/tonne
  • Potassium: 1.3 - 5.2 kg/tonne

At a small urban/community level, digestate can help support smaller food growing projects and urban greening projects. On a larger scale, agricultural use of digestate can improve the UK’s food security, reducing reliance on imported artificial fertilisers. WRAP is currently researching the properties of digestate and promoting its benefits.

http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/digestate-compost-agriculture

Click here to download our Digestate infosheet.

Digestate vs Artificial Fertiliser

The equivalent of 4 tonnes of fossil oil is required to make one tonne of artificial nitrogen. Rock phosphate, used to produce phosphate fertiliser, is a diminishing natural resource that requires energy intensive extraction and processing. All artificial fertiliser is transported many miles and production diminishes natural resources.

Regular use tends to reduce soil organic matter and contribute to soil compaction, water logging, and low water retention. Crop output is decreasing on some intensively farmed land and deficiencies are appearing, despite chemicals being added. Digestate helps stimulate soil activity and health with its organic matter, macro and trace minerals.

As food and fuel prices rise, digestate presents a sustainable, low-cost renewable option.

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