What is Natural Fertiliser?
Natural Fertiliser is a by-product of the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) process once the Biogas has been captured form the digested feedstock; it often referred to as Digestate and contains water, nutrients and organic matter. Natural Fertiliser also delivers Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) to the soil with the advantage over synthetic fertilisers that it also delivers essential organic matter and carbon back into the land. Organic matter is vital to healthy soils and the ecosystems that live within them. It improves soil structure, minimises soil erosion, improves the soils ability to capture carbon and hold onto its nutrient value reducing pollution and provides a food store for microbial and worm life, all of which are vital to healthy soils.
AD and the use of Natural Fertiliser is perfectly suited to a more sustainable form of Agriculture. It provides an environmentally sustainable way to manage unwanted odours and harmful ammonia emissions from manures and slurries. To put this into perspective agriculture is responsible for 88% of UK Ammonia emissions whilst AD only accounts for 3%. It also allows for flexible nutrient management systems by delivering NPK back to the land via quick release liquid or slow release solid fractions. As mentioned above Natural Fertiliser also delvers organic matter back into the soils to replenish depleted carbon deposits. Another important benefit is the recycling of phosphorus back into the soils with the world’s phosphorus supplies estimated to be inadequate to meet agricultural demands within 30-40 years.
Looking to the future
Natural Fertiliser not only consistently supports the goals of the UK’s Climate Change Act but more pressing to the agricultural industry, it will answer many of the challenges as set out by the new UK Agricultural Bill being drafted by DEFRA. Soil health and agricultural pollution, especially through methane and ammonia leakage, are two of the key challenges defined by Michael Gove; Natural Fertiliser tackles both these issues. Finally the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment, the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C states that by 2050 renewables will need to account for 70-85% of energy supply and agriculture will have to revolutionised with emphasis on soil carbon management. Natural Fertiliser and AD is a significant step towards this goal.