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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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Events and calls for input
ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022
Phosphates 2022
Baltic Nutrient Recycling Strategy implementation webinar
Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils
Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022
Call for information on P flows and resources for EU Critical Raw Material assessment

EU consultations and tenders
EU public consultations open
EU tender on fertilising products technical documentation

Nutrient recycling
Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming
Updated overview of phosphorus recovery and/or recycling facilities
Swiss update report on P-recovery technologies
LCA and greenhouse gas benefits of recycled nitrogen
Pathogens in struvite from poultry manure digestate
Fertilisers from spent fire extinguisher power
P-fertiliser and lithium recovery from batteries
Sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) shows limited P fertiliser efficiency
Potential for P-recovery from meat processing
Impacts of ferric on anaerobic digestion

Eutrophication and nutrient losses
Wisconsin’s nutrient pollution trading system
Climate change, eutrophication and algal toxins

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Events and calls for input

 

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5, and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

7 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants.

cru Phosphates 2022Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational.

CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

Baltic Nutrient Recycling Strategy implementation webinar

Monday 22 November 2021, 9h00 – 12h45 CET. This webinar will address challenges and opportunities in implementation of the HELCOM Nutrient Recycling Strategy, with the Finland Ministry of the Environment, UBA Germany, Lithuania Ministry for Agriculture, HELCOM, European Commission DG Agriculture and DG GROW, Swedish Water, etc.

Webinar “PA Nutri and PA Bioeconomy webinar on the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy”, Monday 22 November 2021, 9h00 – 12h45 CET, registration HERE.

Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies

ESPP, DPP and NNP are updating the Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources. Information is invited on technologies to be added. To be included, technologies should be operational or demonstrated at full-scale or pilot scale, and should recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and/or micro-nutrients. The catalogue provides practical data and information on: technology supplier(s) (website, contact), process input materials (sewage sludge, ash, manure, etc.), output products (nutrient content, organic carbon content and other properties), process description (in particular indicating fate of contaminants), current operating status (number and capacity of plants operating, capacity of pilots and duration of continuous operation) and photos of installations.

To include further technologies in the Catalogue: send information, as specified above and if possible in the format of (column titles) the Catalogue as currently online here to

ESPP - DPP - NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils

ESPP, with BOKU, are organising a webinar 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET, on relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P”, crop yield and P losses, see below. Abstracts are invited by 30th November 2021

Webinar website, call for abstracts, registration www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

 

Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

A new call for abstracts for presentations and posters is now open for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna 20-22 June 2022. Deadline 30th November 2021. Proposed presentations should address the conference parallel session themes (see updated programme here): policy tools and business models, climate change links to phosphorus management, new fertilisers for nutrient sustainability, P-recycling R&D and new technologies, regions in action for phosphorus sustainability. Posters can address any theme relating to phosphorus sustainability. Abstract submission instructions are on the conference website here.

ESPC4 – PERM5 website: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Call for information on P flows and resources for EU Critical Raw Material assessment

The EU-funded SCRREEN2 project has launched the re-assessment of materials on the EU’s Critical Raw Materials (CRM) list, and is looking for information on phosphorus resources, uses, flows, and LCAs.

The European Commission published the 4th version of the Critical Raw Materials List (CRM) in September 2020. The CRM list currently includes 30 materials, including both Phosphate Rock (in effect: phosphorus in any form: rock, fertiliser, chemicals, biological materials, etc.) and “Phosphorus” (in effect: P4 and derivatives).

The EU is now supporting the “SCRREEN2” project with 3 million € EU funding (following on from SCRREEN1, which also received 3 million € EU funding) led by the French atomic energy agency CEA, to develop information and an expert network to support the EU decision making process for critical raw materials.

SCRREEN will update the European Commission’s “Fact Sheets” (September 2020). In particular, a first EU experts’ workshop on 22nd October 2021 (ESPP participated) recognised the need to separate the Fact Sheets for “Phosphate Rock” (all forms of P) and “Phosphorus” (P4 and derivates), which are currently confused into one.

For “Phosphate Rock” (which in effect concerns all uses and flows of P in any form, mineral or organic/biological: mined phosphate rock, secondary P resources, animal feed and food, etc.), please provide information (data, publications or links to studies, reports, etc.) as follows:

  • Recent studies on potential secondary P resources in Europe (quantities, flows, etc..)
  • Recent papers or studies on P-rock resources, P supply geopolitics
  • Recent overviews or studies on P-uses, markets and trade, in Europe or worldwide (phosphate rock and P-acid, fertilisers, P in animal fodder and feeds, P in food, industrial uses, etc..)
  • LCAs of P-recovery, P-fertilisers, other P products or uses
  • comments on the 2020 Fact Sheets (“Phosphate Rock and Phosphorus”, pages 525-546).

For the second Critical Raw Material, P4 and derivates (CRM “Phosphorus”), ESPP has indicated to SCRREEN that full up-to-date information was developed in the joint workshop organised by ESPP and the European Commission on 9th July 2020 (with participation of nearly all concerned companies in Europe) presented in detail (after technical validation) in ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°136 and then used in the EU JRC MSA (Material System Analysis) for P4 published in 2021 (http://dx.doi.org/10.2760/677981)

Please send your input to and we will input to the SCRREEN process, for which ESPP is a registered expert.

 

 

EU consultations and tenders

EU public consultations open

Air quality. Revision of EU rules. Open to 16th December 2021. Consultation.

Pharmaceuticals: Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation. Open to 21st December 2021. Consultation.

 

EU tender on fertilising products technical documentation

The European Commission has published a tender (low value contracts procedure) to develop a ‘Guidance Document’ for companies placing products on the market, to provide information on technical documentation for EU Fertilising Products. Deadline 12 November 2021 for submission of interest.

“Study in support of a guidance document for the elaboration of the technical documentation of EU fertilising products” https://ec.europa.eu/growth/low-value-contracts-procedures_en

 

 

Nutrient recycling

 

Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

FiBL has published a “reflections” paper on the acceptability of recycled phosphorus fertilisers in European Organic Agriculture, providing possible criteria for which recycled nutrient products are likely to be accepted. The paper “provides only the personal opinion of the authors” but is coherent with discussions ongoing in the Organic Farming movement and via the EU-funded project RELACS (see ESPP eNews n°53). The paper takes as starting point Annex II of EU Regulation 2021/1165, that is the updated list of products and substances authorised in Organic Production in the EU (public consultation, April 2021, see  ESPP eNews n°53).

This paper addresses only recovered phosphorus products, but notes that other recycled plant nutrients (e.g. nitrogen) could be discussed in the future. ESPP also notes that Regulation 2021/1165 already authorises (subject to EU fertilisers regulation contaminant limits), be they recycled or otherwise, “Inorganic micronutrient fertilisers” (e.g. iron) and “Elemental sulphur”.

The FiBL paper notes that certain input materials are already considered acceptable in this Regulation: manure (but NOT manure from factory farming), food industry wastes, source separated household organic waste, bones. Sewage sludge is currently not listed, but the EU expert committee for Organic Farming (EGTOP) has given positive opinions on struvite and calcined phosphates (both) recovered from municipal sewage, and more widely on all products from municipal sewage if the production process ensures pathogen safety and minimises contaminants (all three in EGTOP Opinion of 2/2/2016).

A key point indicated by FiBL is that the EU Organic Farming regulation requires only “low solubility” mineral fertilisers, and the paper suggests that a criterion could be < 25% P water solubility.

Use of nitric acid in the recovery process is questioned, because the Organic Farming movement would regard this as “synthetic nitrogen”. The use of other synthetic reagents in recovery processes is considered acceptable, with preference to natural origin materials and with health and environmental impacts avoided.

The paper suggests that, for recycled fertilisers, the contaminant limits of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation should be considered as providing adequate environmental protection, but that products with low contaminant levels should be preferred, and lower contaminant levels could be fixed in the EU Organic Farming Regulation.

This document provides a valuable starting point to identify which recycled phosphorus products can be appropriately proposed for inclusion into the Organic Farming Regulation and to support such proposals. ESPP will now propose to our members, to wider stakeholders and to the Organic Farming movement (IFOAM, RELACS, FiBL) to define a short list of corresponding recycled P products and to develop dossiers for submission (via Member States) for consideration by the European Commission (DG AGRI) and by EGTOP.

“Reflections on the acceptability of recycled P fertilisers for European organic agriculture”, 29 September 2021, V. Leschenne, B. Speiser, FiBL https://www.betriebsmittelliste.ch/fileadmin/bml-ch/documents/stellungnahmen/Recycled_P_fertilisers_v2_Sept_2021.pdf

FiBL is the Swiss Organic Farming research institute.

EGTOP Opinion of 2/2/2016 on recovered struvite, calcined phosphates and products from municipal sewage https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/eu-policy/expert-advice/documents/final-reports/final-report-egtop-on-fertilizers-2_en.pdf

EU Organic Farming inputs list Regulation 2021/1126 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32021R1165&from=EN

 

Updated overview of phosphorus recovery and/or recycling facilities

Both the inventory list of operating full-scale P -recovery / -recycling installations worldwide (Christian Kabbe, P-REX Environment) and the ESPP – DPP - NNP catalogue of nutrient recycling technologies are updated online here.  The inventory list has been fully updated, and indicates some 120 installations operating worldwide, specifying the technology supplier, the location, operating since, the recovered phosphate material/product and the annual tonnage of product output. The technology catalogue is in the process of updating (see call for input above) and has been updated to already include information received.

Online here: https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/activities/p-recovery-technology-inventory

Information for updates of the inventory and catalogue are welcome: to

 

 

Swiss update report on P-recovery technologies

The Swiss Federal Environment Office published in 2017 an overview report comparing 20 P-recovery technologies. A 2019 update compares 8 technologies adapted to the Swiss P-recovery obligation: ExtraPhos (Budenheim), EuPhoRe*, Pyrophos*, ZAB (Glatt Phos4Green)*, CleanMAP (EasyMining)*, EcoPhos (now Prayon), Phos4Life (ZAR – Técnicas Reunidas), Tetraphos (Remondis) [* = not covered in the 2017 report, summarised in ESPP eNews n°12]. The eight technologies are assessed on the basis of 13 criteria, in three thematic groups: Closing the Loop (input flexibility, degree of recovery), Environment (chemical use, energy, waste), Product (P content, plant availability, pollutant content, product yield). A third update of the report is currently under preparation and is expected to be published in 2022.

“Technologien zur Phosphor-Rückgewinnung. Bewertung von Technologien für die Schweiz bezogen auf den Entwicklungsstand”, EBP for BAFU (Swiss Federal Office for the Environment), April 2019, in German LINK.

The Swiss Government has also published (2020) a document on implementation of the national P-recovery regulation, see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°141.

 

 

LCA and greenhouse gas benefits of recycled nitrogen

Energy use and greenhouse emissions were compared using several LCA methods, calculated according to field trial crop yields, and modelled field N losses. The recycled N fertilisers tested were digestate from anaerobic digestion of wastes, meat and bone meal (combined with oat hulls, chicken manure and vinasse) and ammonium sulphate from nylon product. For the mineral fertiliser, data for calcium ammonium nitrate from Ecoinvent was used. The authors note that results vary considerably depending on whether recycled raw materials are allocated as “waste” or “by-product” (i.e. with economic value allocation). LCAs using both ISO 14040:2006 and European Commission Environmental Footprint project methods were calculated. Field trials were carried out using the three recycled N fertilisers, mineral fertiliser and no fertiliser (control), using spring sown oats near Helsinki, Finland. Yields with the recycled fertilisers were not statistically significantly different from yields with the mineral fertiliser (whereas control yield was significantly lower than all fertiliser treatments), but nonetheless the somewhat lower average yields with the recycled fertilisers were used in the LCA calculation (-7% to -15%). Atmospheric and leaching N emissions from fields were estimated based on N inputs, crop yield and coefficients for organic (digestate, meal and bone meal) or mineral (mineral fertiliser, ammonium sulphate) N fertilisers. Energy use and GHG emissions were lower for the recycled N fertilisers than for mineral fertilisers, whatever the calculation method, with differences between the recycled N fertilisers varying depending on the calculation method.

“Carbon footprint and energy use of recycled fertilizers in arable Farming”, V. Kyttä et al., J. Cleaner Production, Volume 287, 10 March 2021, 125063 DOI.

 

 

Pathogens in struvite from poultry manure digestate

Struvite precipitated in batch lab tests from poultry slurry digestate (mesophilic, 37°C) showed significant levels of foodborne pathogens, depending on precipitation pH and post-treatment: E. coli, Streptococcus, Clostridium. The batch struvite precipitation tests involved 40 minutes reaction time and 30 minutes settling, at pH 9, 10 or 11. The struvite was settled and recovered by filtration, but not washed. Pathogen levels in the struvite were significant, but lower with increasing pH. E. coli was 10-40% higher than the EU STRUBIAS criteria limit (for precipitated phosphates) of 1 000 CFU/g when struvite was precipitated at pH9, but lower at pH 10 or 11. Pathogen inactivation technologies were tested on the recovered struvite: drying (35 – 55 °C), high humidity hot air impingement blanching (HHAIB, 110 – 130 °C), cold plasma (30 – 60 seconds). These technologies significantly reduced pathogens to “very low” levels, lower than natural soil levels. They did not modify the struvite crystal structure, but they did reduce metal-oxygen functional group abundance, and treatments > 55°C would lead to ammonia loss. This study confirms the need for further investigation of pathogens in recovered struvites and approaches to reduce these, including in continuous precipitation installations (rather than batch tests), as well as testing of washing and low temperature drying – storage for pathogen reduction. ESPP notes that the anaerobic digestion, depending on operating temperature and conditions, can also ensure sanitary safety of the digestate, upstream of the struvite recovery.

“Quantitative characterization and effective inactivation of biological hazards in struvite recovered from digested poultry slurry”, A. Muhmood et al., Water Research 204 (2021) 117659 DOI.

 

Fertilisers from spent fire extinguisher power

End-of-life powder from ABC fire extinguishers, containing MAP* and ammonium sulphate was combined with compost (of municipal solid organic waste) and fibres to produce pellets. Fire extinguishers must be emptied and the powder renewed every three years. The spent powder is very fine (90% of particles < 0.25 mm, 40% < 0.04 mm) so posing risks of inhalation and accidental pollution. The powder contains 40-50% MAP* and additives for flow / anti-caking, colour or water repellence (in particular, silicones). After removal of these additives (using specific technology under patenting), the spent extinguisher powder was combined with dried compost and fibres (wood chips or Jatropha seed cake), in five different combinations, each with 10% spent extinguisher powder, in a rotary 6 mm die pressing machine (using no heat or additives, only mechanical pressure). Lignin in the wood chips showed to be an effective binder and pellets showed mechanical resistance (necessary for handling) and water uptake (necessary to render nutrients plant available) compatible with agricultural use. Further work is needed to assess the fertiliser value (especially crop nutrient availability) of the pellets, to test their handling and resistance in agricultural equipment (verify no dusting) and to ensure no risk of dust release to the environment or inhalation during spent extinguisher powder preparation, handling and pelletising.

* MAP = mono ammonium phosphate

Work carried out as part of the “FIRECOMPOST” project, funded by the Calabria Region POR FESR-FSE 2014-2020

“Pelletization of Compost from Different Mixtures with the Addition of Exhausted Extinguishing Powders”, S. Papandrea et al., Agronomy 2021, 11, 1357, DOI.

 

 

P-fertiliser and lithium recovery from batteries

Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries represent over 1/3 of the world market for lithium ion batteries. A process to recover lithium and a phosphate fertiliser is presented. Currently LFP batteries are difficult to recycle: regeneration leads to battery quality deterioration and strong acid dissolution results in large quantities of wastewater and loss of the phosphorus. In this lab study, the batteries were shredded, then the cathode material separated (from aluminium foils) by ultrasound in 0.4 mol NaOH. The extracted cathode material is then reacted with Na2S2O8 to recover lithium sulphate solution (for lithium recovery). The remaining material is then reacted with Na2S resulting in a phosphate solution (HPO4 / H2PO4), which is then reacted with urea, N,N’-methylenebisacrylamide, acrylic acid and potassium persulphate, then dried. This results in an N-P-K slow-release fertiliser material, containing approx. 18%N, 6.5%P, and some K. Recovery of both lithium and phosphorus > 99% could be achieved. This recovered fertiliser material was tested in pot trials with maize, showing significantly increased growth compared to control (no comparison was made to commercial fertiliser). Tested heavy metals (Cd, As, Pb, Cr, Hg) were below detection limit in the recovered N-P-K fertiliser, as were iron and sulphur. Residues from the process were mainly NaFeS2 (used as a catalyst for degradation of methylene blue and indigo carmine) and Na2SO4 (a commodity chemical). The authors conclude that the process would offer significantly better profitability than recovery of lithium only (lithium is <2% of LFP battery weight, whereas phosphorus (as P) is c. 17%).

“Recycling phosphorus from spent LiFePO4 battery for multifunctional slow-release fertilizer preparation and simultaneous recovery of Lithium”, H-H. Yue et al., Chemical Engineering Journal 426 (2021) 131311, DOI.

 

 

Sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) shows limited P fertiliser efficiency

Pot trials of twelve SSIAs show P effectiveness 5% - 46% compared to mineral P fertiliser TSP (comparable to 24% for phosphate rock). NAC P-solubility only explained around 50% of variation in effectiveness. Random forest analysis of the three parameters oxalate extractable aluminium, phosphorus and iron was the best indicator of P-fertiliser effectiveness, predicting c. 80% of variability. The greenhouse pot trials used rye grass grown for twelve weeks, in two soils (clay and sandy loam), pH 6 – 7. The SSIAs came from 11 municipal sewage sludge mono-incinerators in Canada and the USA, and one agri-food processing plant incinerator, with several different types of incinerator, operating at different temperatures (8 out of 12 at lower temperatures than the EU IED requirement of 850°C). Ten of the eleven municipal plants used iron and/or aluminium coagulants. Data for P, Fe, Al and other minerals in the twelve ashes are provided, as are data for inorganic contaminants. The authors conclude that levels of heavy metals in the SSIAs “do not appear to be of concern for agricultural use”, whereas six of the eleven municipal sewage SSIAs show copper levels higher than the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/1009 limit of 600 mgCu/kg limit for mineral fertilisers, two show zinc levels higher than the FPR limit (1500 mgZn/kg) and three show lead levels higher than the FPR limit (120 mgPb/kg).

“Assessing and predicting phosphorus phytoavailability from sludge incineration ashes”, C-A. Joseph et al., Chemosphere 288 (2022) 132498 DOI and “Influence of Sludge Incineration Ash on Ryegrass Growth and Soil Phosphorus Status”, C-A. Joseph et al., Pedosphere 29(1): 70–81, 2019 DOI. These publications present the same study. The study was part funded by the participating incinerators.

 

 

 

Potential for P-recovery from meat processing

Data from a meat processing company and lab tests suggest that c. 13 ktP/y could be recovered from meat processing in Poland, by calcining, to high quality hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate, human food or animal feed grade). ESPP notes that currently this recovered phosphate cannot be used in Europe because the European Commission DG SANTE and EFSA have not yet defined an Animal By Products Regulation ‘End Point’. The experimental work tested calcining (at 600°C – 950°C) of bone sludge and of bone waste (from pigs and cattle). Bone sludge is produced by hydrolysis of bones, to remove proteins, and showed 12 – 16% P-content and 12 – 20% organics. After calcining, hydroxyapatite (mainly Ca5(PO4)3OH) was produced with c. 17% P, low levels of silicon and iron, aluminium, cadmium and manganese considerably lower than in phosphate rock. The authors estimate that waste from slaughterhouses and meat processing in Poland is around 230 000 t/y, that is c. 24% of the meat processed, and that some 70 000 t/y of hydroxyapatite could be recovered, worth c. 10 million €/y based on the price of phosphate rock.

“Quantification of material recovery from meat waste incineration – An approach to an updated food waste hierarchy”, Z. Kowalski et al., J. Hazardous Materials 416 (2021) 126021 DOI.

 

 

Impacts of ferric on anaerobic digestion

Lab tests of five forms of ferric phosphate in sewage sludge fermentation suggest that amorphous iron(III) phosphate reduced to vivianite, releasing soluble P. Most forms inhibited VFA production, and so potentially methane production. Five forms of iron(III) phosphate which can be found in sewage sludge after use of ferric salts for P-removal were tested: anhydrous ferric-phosphate (FePO4), ferric-phosphate dihydrate (FePO4⋅2H2O), ferric-phosphate trihydrate (FePO4⋅3H2O), ferric-phosphate tetrahydrate (FePO4⋅4H2O), Giniite (Fe5(PO4)4(OH)3⋅2H2O). The ferric phosphates were added to WAS sludge from a laboratory anaerobic-anoxic-oxic (AAO) reactor at 2.6 mmol Fe/g VSS in 600 ml bottles, air was removed, then the bottles were closed and fermented in a shaker at 35°C for 7 days. All the ferric [i.e. Fe(III)] phosphates except Giniite (that is, all the FePO4.nH2O ferric phosphates, n=0-4) released soluble P during fermentation, due to reduction to Fe(II) phosphate, with the reduction rate of hexagonal FePO4 being highest. All the Fe(III) phosphates had negative impacts on fermentation of sludge, reducing specific hydrolysis rate constant and volatile fatty acid yield (VFA) by around -40% for amorphous ferric-phosphate trihydrate (this confirms results from Kim and Chung 2015). ESPP comment: overall this study suggests that further work is needed on how iron dosing may impact anaerobic digestion, depending on different forms of iron phosphate present, but it is not clear how sewage works or digester operators can influence the forms of iron phosphate.

“Effects of ferric-phosphate forms on phosphorus release and the performance of anaerobic fermentation of waste activated sludge”, Z. Zhang et al., Bioresource Technology 323 (2021) 124622 DOI.

 

 

Eutrophication and nutrient losses

 

Wisconsin’s nutrient pollution trading system

Analysis of the three market-like phosphorus credit programmes, providing opportunities for reduced P discharge compliance costs for funding of reduction of diffuse (agricultural) P losses, in the State of Wisconsin (USA).  84% of US phosphorus pollution is from diffuse “non-point” sources (mainly agriculture). Point sources are highly regulated through water quality permits whereas policy on non-point sources is incentive or voluntary. The US EPA formalised its policy for guidance water quality trading in 2003. Wisconsin enacted restrictive numeric water quality standards for P in 2010 (ambient P of 0.015 - 0.1 mg/L), and shortly after launched three P credit programmes. The three components of Wisconsin’s Water Quality Trading Programme for phosphorus (1) enables permitted point sources to purchase discharge credits from other point sources or from (non-regulated) non-point sources, (2) allows all nutrient sources in a watershed to coordinate efforts to meet the water body P standard (“Adaptive Management”), and (3) allows small point sources to purchase credits by paying a fixed price in to a fund for agricultural pollution control (“Multi-Discharger Variance”). This has resulted in a significant number of P credit trading transactions. As of mid 2021, more than 140 point sources have participated in these market-like options. Analysis shows that decisions are influenced by stringent water body P standards and credit trades and coordination are more likely in larger municipalities, who show more institutional preparedness for such engagement. The authors conclude that nutrient credit markets move slowly and that the urban – rural stakeholder relationship is critical to uptake.

“Key Elements of Nutrient Credit Markets: An Empirical Investigation of Wisconsin’s Market-like Phosphorus Control Policy”, Z. Wu thesis University of Wisconsin-Madison 2021 LINK.

 

 

Climate change, eutrophication and algal toxins

This book reviews science on links between climate change and marine and freshwater toxins. These are released mainly from “blue-green algae” (cyanobacteria) and which can impact humans e.g. by accumulation in shellfish or fish. Previously unreported toxin events are now occurring including in Europe tetrodotoxin intoxications from shellfish and ostreocin in aerosols on Mediterranean beaches. There are some 2 000 cyanobacteria species identified worldwide, of which 50 are today known to produce natural toxins. Climate change is expected to benefit bloom-forming cyanobacteria, increasing growth rates, with more severe and longer blooms and shifts in geographical distribution, but the impact of climate change on toxin production is likely to be variable (Kelly et al., ch. 5). Climate change impacts (analysed in detail in Reichwaldt et al., ch. 6) include higher temperatures, leading to warmer water (faster algal growth), stratification and evaporation (so increasing nutrient concentrations), increased occurrence of high rainfall events (accentuating nutrient losses to waters, especially after droughts), The authors identify as emerging toxins related to climate change, in particular in the Mediterranean: tetrodotoxin, palytoxin, cyclic imines (gymondimine, spirolides, pinnatoxins), ciguatoxins, brevetoxin. Toxins can impact global food supply, by food safety of fisheries and aquaculture (Carmen Louzao et al., ch. 14): amnesic shellfish poisoning (the toxin domoic acid produced by Pseudo-nitzschia is accumulated in shellfish), ciguatera fish poisoning (Gambierdiscus produce ciguatoxins, which accumulate or are metabolised to other toxins in fish), diarrheic shellfish poisoning (dinophysistoxins produced by Dinopysis), neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (brevotoxins from Karenia brevis), palytoxin poisoning (from Ostreopsis), paralytic shellfish poisoning (often from Alexandriuim), yessotoxin shellfish poisoning, etc. National and international regulations and safety limits for different toxins are listed as well as detection methods (Vilariño et al., ch. 15), underlining the current limitations to detecting and determining toxins, the challenges of adapting to emerging toxins and the need for updated monitoring programmes.

“Climate change and marine and freshwater toxins”, L. Botana, M. Carmen Louzao and N. Vilariño editors, 668 pages, 2021 ISBN 978-3-11-062292-8

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe
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ESPP members

ESPP members logos 3 2021

 

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews059
Download as PDF

Events and calls for input
ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022
Phosphates 2022
PhD / Masters school on wastewater circular economy
Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils
Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

EU consultations

EU public consultations open
ESPP input made on EU “Taxonomy” criteria
ESPP input on End-of-Waste

“Legacy Phosphorus”
SPA webinar on “Legacy Phosphorus”
Review paper on “Legacy Phosphorus”
“Legacy Phosphorus”, crop productivity and P-losses

Policy
Urgent need for conformity assessment bodies for fertilising products
Post-processed digestates and composts excluded from EU fertilising products
UK requires “nutrient neutrality” for developments near protected habitats
Erratum: EU Member States derogatory cadmium limits
EU partly lifts ban on feeding processed animal protein (PAP) to animals

Nutrient recycling
N2 Applied on the world’s radio
Glatt & Seraplant commission 30 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant
Técnicas Reunidas announces contract for 40 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant
25 million US$ for P sustainability research centre: STEPS

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Events and calls for input

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources, currently being updated (see below).

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5, and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

7 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational.

CRU Phosphates 2022:
https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

PhD / Masters school on wastewater circular economy

22-26 November 2021, Cracow, Poland. The MonGOS Winter School enables 25 young researchers (Masters, PhD) to explore wastewater resource, water and energy recovery and circular economy indicators and practices. The School will be led by experts from the MonGOS project partner institutes in Belgium, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and will be based on targeted teaching and workshops, group projects and case studies.

Applications are open to 17th October 2021. In English. Free. MonGOS Winter School 2021 : https://mon-gos.eu/winter-school-2021/  

 

 

Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies

ESPP, DPP and NNP are updating the Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources. Information is invited on technologies to be added. To be included, technologies should be operational or demonstrated at full-scale or pilot scale, and should recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and/or micro-nutrients. The catalogue provides practical data and information on: technology supplier(s) (website, contact), process input materials (sewage sludge, ash, manure, etc.), output products (nutrient content, organic carbon content and other properties), process description (in particular indicating fate of contaminants), current operating status (number and capacity of plants operating, capacity of pilots and duration of continuous operation) and photos of installations.

To include further technologies in the Catalogue: send information, as specified above and if possible in the format of (column titles) the Catalogue as currently online here to

ESPP - DPP - NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils

ESPP, with BOKU, are organising a webinar 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET, on relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P”, crop yield and P losses, see below. Abstracts are invited by 30th November 2021

Webinar website, call for abstracts, registration www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

 

Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

A new call for abstracts for presentations and posters is now open for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna 20-22 June 2022. Deadline 30th November 2021. Proposed presentations should address the conference parallel session themes (see updated programme here): Policy tools and business models, Climate change links to phosphorus management, New fertilisers for nutrient sustainability, P-recycling R&D and new technologies, Regions in action for phosphorus sustainability. Posters can address any theme relating to phosphorus sustainability. Abstract submission instructions are on the conference website here.

ESPC4 – PERM5 website: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

EU consultations

EU public consultations open

Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). “Protecting the marine environment – review of EU rules”. Open to 21st October 2021. See details in ESPP eNews n°58. Consultation.

Water pollutants. “Integrated water management – revised lists of surface and groundwater pollutants”. Open to 1st November 2021. See details in ESPP eNews n°58Consultation.

Air quality. Revision of EU rules. Open to 16th December 2021. Consultation.

Pharmaceuticals: Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation. Open to 21st December 2021. Consultation.

 

ESPP input made on EU “Taxonomy” criteria

These criteria will define which economic activities under what conditions, will be eligible for EU Green Deal investment funding and other eco-incentives. Phosphorus recovery from sewage is listed as one of the 100 activities.

ESPP input suggested that the item P-recovery from sewage treatment should be widened to cover P-recovery from other waste streams, and also to cover recovery of other nutrients, in particular N-recovery. ESPP suggested that the two items on agriculture (livestock, crops) should include Phosphorus Use Efficiency in criteria, in addition to Nitrogen Use Efficiency as proposed. ESPP also input on tourism (include environmental impact of restaurant menus), food industry (promote nutrient circularity, water treatment, bio-waste and solid waste).

Consultation closed 28th September 2021, documents online here    See ESPP eNews n°58 and ESPP input here

 

ESPP input on End-of-Waste

ESPP and Eureau, with participation from stakeholders, have input to the EU JRC consultation on selecting priority materials for definition of EU End-of-Waste Criteria, suggesting different recovered materials from wastewaters.

The process for obtaining EU End-of-Waste status for use in fertilisers is ensured by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009. ESPP and Eureau made input concerning non-fertiliser applications of the following materials: minerals recovered from ashes (e.g. recovery of phosphoric acid from sewage sludge incineration ash), minerals recovered from wastewater (e.g. recovered struvite or vivianite as a flame retardant, recovery of iron or aluminium compounds for use as coagulants, etc.), recovery of nitrogen salts for use as a commodity chemical, algae grown in wastewater, bioplastics (PHA, PLA), cellulose (crude, fluff, pellets), “Kaumera” biopolymer.

Consultation closed 10th October 2021, documents online here    See ESPP eNews n°57 and ESPP input here

 

“Legacy Phosphorus”

SPA webinar on “Legacy Phosphorus”

80 participants listened to the three speakers on phosphorus accumulation in agricultural soils, soil P chemistry and actions to reduce P runoff. Online questions focussed on whether soil P could be reduced without losing crop yield.

The webinar was introduced by Matt Scholz, US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA) who pointed to a global “legacy P problem”, where phosphorus from past applications of fertilisers and manure overwhelms soil P storage capacity and leaks into surface waters. He referred to Wironen 2018 (see SCOPE Newsletter n°128) who showed how Vermont continues to accumulate > 5 kgP/ha/y in soil, despite improvements in phosphorus use efficiency, and despite significant reconversion of agricultural land back to woodland, because of increasing and increasingly concentrated dairy livestock production.

GoyetteJean-Olivier Goyette, University Laval, cited a number of studies indicating that P accumulated in watersheds (soils and water sediments) from past activities can represent a significant part of current P loads to surface waters (McCracklin 2018 DOI: 50% to the Baltic, Meng 2021 DOI: 50- 80% for China upland rivers), and that a drawdown of this legacy P pool could take decades to centuries (McDowell 2020 DOI, Goyette 2018 DOI, Carpenter 2005 DOI). He suggested that this accumulation of P is related to the low phosphorus efficiency (PUE) of food production, which has fallen from 35% around 1900 to 6% today, largely because livestock production and fertiliser use (crop PUE: 30%, conversion vegetal-animal 10%; see Liu 2016 DOI, Suh 2011 DOI). He underlined that studies have shown that once soil reaches around 20% “P saturation” (saturation of mineral binding ions such as Fe, Al, Ca) losses to surface waters begin to occur, that is a “breakpoint” (Nair 2014 DOI). At the watershed scale, this can occur after accumulation of just 21 kgP/ha (Goyette 2018 DOI). It remains to be clarified however how this P-loss “breakpoint” relates to agronomically recommended soil P levels and to crop yields.

HesterbergDean Hesterberg, Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS/CNPEM), discussed soil phosphorus chemistry and the complexity of relations between “labile” phosphorus (i.e., which can be released from mineral binding sites in soil) and plant-available phosphorus. Roots only directly take up the orthophosphate in soil pore water, which is typically less than 0.1% of average total phosphorus in the top 20 cm of soil, i.e., >99.9% resides in the soil solids. Plants have mechanisms to mobilize solid-phase soil P, although a significant portion of inorganic P tends to become less plant available over time by mechanisms that are not fully understood. Also, (micro)biological mechanisms convert organic forms of phosphorus into more plant-available forms. Complexity results from the very wide variability in soil properties and soil biology, including between different soil depths in the same soil, variation with climate, and different plant species’ ability to access phosphorus.

ScottIsis S. P. C. Scott, University of Maryland/Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory (USDA-ARS) outlined different techniques to reduce P losses to water bodies: prevention of legacy-P sources = balanced nutrient application and animal diet, manure export; containment = tillage practices aimed at reducing particle detachment, soil amendments, buffer zones and wetlands; and remediation, namely soil P drawdown by crops and phosphorus removal structures, also known as P traps. These remediation practices work across different temporal scales: Draw-down is a long-term remediation strategy, while P traps are an immediate practice targeting dissolved P in runoff, drainage, or wastewater. Phosphorus traps are systems containing PSMs (phosphorus sorption materials) installed in both urban or rural hotspots, promoting P removal before discharge into rivers or lakes. For information on how to design P removal structures, see the USDA P-trap app. See also SCOPE Newsletter n°138.

Discussion in the webinar chat asked what is the definition of “Legacy phosphorus”. Does the term refer to any levels of soil P higher than natural or background levels? Or does it mean soil P levels higher than agronomic recommended indexes defined to enable optimum crop productivity? This was also reflected in the question: to what extent can “Legacy P” be drawn down without significantly reducing crop yield?.

US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA) webinar “A Legacy of Phosphorus”, 30th September 2021.

Watch the webinar on SPA’s YouTube channel

A follow-up webinar addressing the question of links between “Legacy P”, crop productivity and P losses to watersheds will is organised by ESPP 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET. If you wish to present at this webinar, contact

 

Review paper on “Legacy Phosphorus”

Accumulation of P in soils in the US is considered to mainly result from mineral fertiliser application, not manure, and to result in increases in mineral forms of P in soils, not organic P. The abstract states that accumulation of “Legacy P” in soils can increase nutrient runoff leading to eutrophication, but with little supporting evidence (only one study cited, not apparently relevant). The review itself suggests that inorganic P applied to soil is absorbed or reacted with a wide range of minerals in soil, and the bio-availability of this mineral phosphorus pool depends mainly on soil pH. P in organic forms in soils is mainly as monoesters or diesters. Some field studies suggest that annual application of manure (e.g. 30 kgP/ha/y) did not lead to an accumulation of soil organic P. Also, native organic P forms in soils appear to be relatively stable, and may not be reduced even after fertiliser application is stopped. Plants can access non-soluble soil phosphorus by extending root structure, or by releasing acids or enzymes from roots. Tests suggest that changes in root architecture and release of enzymes are more effective than release of organic acids (this despite the importance of soil pH indicated above). The paper does not explore to what extent ‘mining’ of soil P by plants by such mechanisms could impact crop productivity.

“Review. Accessing Legacy Phosphorus in Soils”, S. Doydora et al., Soil Syst. 2020, 4, 74; LINK.

 

 

“Legacy Phosphorus”, crop productivity and P-losses

ESPP will host a webinar to discuss how “Legacy P”, and proposals to “draw down Legacy P”, are related to agronomic recommended soil P indexes and crop yield, and to P losses to watershed: 2nd Feb. 2022, 13h – 17h CET.

With Achim Doberman, Chief Scientist, International Fertilisers Association (IFA); Jim Elser, University of Montana, USA; Phil Haygarth, University of Lancaster, UK; Andrew Sharpley, University of Arkansas, USA.

This ESPP webinar will follow on from the SPA (US) webinar “A Legacy of Phosphorus”, 30th September 2021 (see above) and from the Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’ summarised in ESPP eNews n°56

A SCOPE Newsletter special issue will summarise this ESPP webinar and the SPA webinar, and will also include selected abstracts submitted to the ESPP webinar as well as a selection of c. 20 relevant recent scientific publications.

Call for presentations and posters, open to 30th November 2021 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

Organised with BOKU Austria. Preference for results from field, pot or lysimeter studies (i.e., “real data”), but interesting modelling studies will also be considered. Selected submissions not accepted for presentations will be made available to participants and then published in the SCOPE Newsletter Special Issue.

 

Policy

 

Urgent need for conformity assessment bodies for fertilising products

Industry concerned that the lack of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CAB) may prevent products from obtaining access to the market under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR).

The new FPR (EU) 2019/1009 (FPR) is set to apply from 16 July 2022 and requires third party certification for many products covered by this regulation. Accreditation of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) is required so that fertilising and plant biostimulant products are able to gain access to the EU Single Market. So far, very few CABs have applied for accreditation across EU member states to date. We are concerned that the lack of CABs will prevent products covered by the FPR from accessing the Single Market, which will be detrimental to industries and farmers alike.

In this context, EBIC, ECOFI, Fertilizers Europe and IVA are urging all concerned parties to reach out to organisations qualified and eligible to act as Conformity Assessment Bodies immediately and encourage them to apply without further delay for notification. To demonstrate the potential demand for CABs, these four associations reached out to their members to make a preliminary, joint estimate of how many products are expected to be submitted for certification under the FPR in the next two years. The data was collected by a third party in full compliance with competition rules and the resulting aggregated figures were made available to the European Commission. To gain access to the data and for further information, please contact .

The European Commission is organising a virtual info session for certification companies interested in becoming conformity assessment bodies/notified bodies entitled "Conformity assessment of EU fertilising products: WHY and HOW to become a notified body?". Interested parties can register for this on-line event by sending an e-mail to DG GROW.

Article provided by ECOFI, with thanks: www.ecofi.info

For further information, please contact

 

 

Post-processed digestates and composts excluded from EU fertilising products

The European Commission has replied to ESPP that post-processing of digestates and composts (e.g. solid-liquid separation, stabilisation, etc.) is not at present covered by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) CMC criteria.

ESPP raised this question to DG GROW some time ago, because such post-processing will often be implemented to condition and prepare products to place on the European market, especially digestates. The Commission’s reply also confirms that processing additives used downstream of the anaerobic digester / composter are not considered as “composting/digestion additives” (as cited in CMCs3 and 5), e.g. polymers for solid-liquid separation, pH adjusters, granulation aids etc. It is in ESPP’s view preferable to resolve such questions now, rather than have them being brought up during a control of a product already on the market after implementation of the FPR from June 2022.

The Commission has indicated to ESPP that amendment of CMCs 3-5 (Annex II of the FPR) could be considered to include (certain) post-processing routes, and that this will be discussed in the next EU Fertilisers Expert Group (of which ESPP is a member) in November 2021.

ESPP will work with relevant federations and operators, to prepare a list of process routes and of additives used for post-processing of composts and digestates, and collate information for each one on how widespread is application and market relevance, product benefits, additives used, extent to which compost/digestate is or is not chemically modified by the process, etc.

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/2009

 

UK requires “nutrient neutrality” for developments near protected habitats

The UK is now requiring “no increase in nutrient emissions” for housing projects impacting Natura 2000 protected areas, to respect the European Court of Justice “Dutch case” ruling.

The Government body Natural England has issued detailed Guidance (60 pages) on how to calculate net nutrient emissions for new developments, for local planning authorities. The Guidance specifically targets the Solent and the Stour catchment, upstream of the Stodmarsh designated wetland sites, Kent, but is being seen as applicable in principle to the catchments of other Natura protected areas. The overall validity of this Guidance has been upheld by the UK High Court, 28th May 2021, in a judgement concerning two housing applications under Fareham Borough Council. The UK requirement for “nutrient neutrality” for protected habitat areas follows the European Court of Justice decision of 7 November 2018 (C-293/17 and C-294/17) stating that “grazing of cattle or application of fertiliser” in the vicinity of a Natura 2000 site may be classified as a “project” (under Directive 2011/92) so requiring demonstration “that there is no reasonable scientific doubt as to the lack of adverse effects” on the Natura site (see ESPP eNews n°35).

The Natural England Guidance defines how to calculate “nutrient neutrality” for housing development, change of agricultural land use, etc. For new housing, is assumed that all residents will be new residents, coming from outside the catchment, so generating additional wastewater: additional nutrient input to the catchment is calculated by multiplying the estimated number of residents in the housing x average water use per person x total P and total N discharge per litre (estimated as 100% of the waste water treatment plant consent limit TN/l and 90% of the consent limit TP/l). Nutrient loss from changes in agricultural land use is estimated from data for average farm N and P loss (kg/ha) compared to average losses from e.g. green space. The numbers used are specific to the local catchment. To achieve “nutrient neutrality”, mitigation actions must be planned to compensate for nutrient loss increases, such as interceptor wetlands, planting of woodland, upgrading of sewage works.

Natural England, July 2020 “Advice on Nutrient Neutrality for New Development in the Stour Catchment in Relation to Stodmarsh Designated Sites - For Local Planning Authorities. July 2020” LINK.

 

Erratum: EU Member States derogatory cadmium limits

The article in ESPP eNews n°57 specifying derogations accorded to certain Member States for fertiliser cadmium limits lower than the EU Fertilising Products Regulation limit of 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 (which will apply to EU fertilisers from July 2022) contained two errors:

  • The limit in Finland is 22 mgCd/kgP2O5 (not 50 as indicated because the Finland regulation is 50 mgCd per kg P not P2O5)
  • The Swedish request to apply a national limit of 20 mgCd/kgP2O5 in 2012 was rejected by the European Commission decision 2012/D0719 because the Commission considered that Sweden “has not provided new scientific evidence relating to the protection of the environment or working environment demonstrating that there is a specific problem within its territory […] which makes it necessary to introduce the notified national measures.” The national limit of (equivalent) 44 mgCd/kgP2O5 (COM decision 2002/399) therefore remains in force today in Sweden.

The corrected list of Member States with derogations for national fertiliser cadmium limits lower than 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 is therefore as follows:

-  Denmark (COM decision 2020/1178) = equivalent to 48 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Finland (COM decision 2006/D0348) = 22 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Hungary (COM decision 2020/1184) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Slovak Republic (COM decision 2020/1205) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Sweden (COM decision 2002/399) equivalent to 44 mgCd/kgP2O5

EU partly lifts ban on feeding processed animal protein (PAP) to animals

It is now legal to feed processed animal protein (PAP) to non-ruminants (pigs, poultry), but the ban on feeding PAP of one species to the same species remains in place (intra-species). The PAP feed ban was put in place in 1994, in response to the ‘mad cow disease’ (bovine spongiform encephalopathy - BSE), which is thought to have been spread by the practice of supplementing feed for cattle with meat-and-bone meal which was not sufficiently sterilised to inactivate prions (the novel agent which causes BSE and is not a pathogen but a badly-folded brain protein, capable of causing other brain proteins to refold). Millions of cattle were culled because of BSE, and nearly 200 people died of the version transmissible to humans (a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), whereas it was initially feared that thousands or millions of people could be at risk. The European Commission justifies the decision to partially lift the PAP feed ban by the fact that other countries worldwide do not apply this, so that imported meat is unfairly advantaged compared to EU producers, and that 24 of the 26 EU Member States today have “negligible” BSE status (the UK’s last case of BSE was in 2016). The Commission states that the current ban causes some 100 000 tonnes/year of processed animal protein to be disposed as waste. The EU farmers’ federation COPA-COGECA states that PAP is an important source of phosphorus and highly digestible protein. The partial lift of the ban is expected to benefit insect protein. The published regulation runs to 17 pages of small print detailing production, use and transport conditions for PAP.

“EU lifts ban on feeding livestock processed animal protein (PAP)”, 1st September 2021

EU Regulation 2021/1372 “amending Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the prohibition to feed non-ruminant farmed animals, other than fur animals, with protein derived from animals”

 

Nutrient recycling

 

N2 Applied on the world’s radio

“Firing a bolt of plasma at slurry to break up toxic ammonia and climate-heating methane”. The BBC has featured (2 items) ESPP member N2 Applied’s innovative process to reduce manure emissions and improve nitrogen recycling. The report by BBC environmental analyst Roger Harrabin features an N2 installation at a dairy farm in Buckinghamshire UK, includes sniffing manure ‘before plasma’ “typically pungent” and ‘after plasma’ “uplifting smell of the seaside”. The N2 Applied process prevents ammonia and climate emissions from the manure, instead converting N into stable forms which are valuable fertiliser. N2 Applied has recently received 15 million € EU investment funds for roll out of its process.

“Artificial lightning zaps farm stink”, BBC 8th October 2021 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58795272

BBC News, 7th October 2021, N2 Applied @ c. 42 mins.

BBC World Service News, 7th October 2021, N2 Applied @ c. 19 mins.

Video clip of the N2 Applied installation at Holly Green farm (Arla Innovation Farm) in UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P76DMaldbuk

“N2 Applied gets $17m to turn livestock slurry into sustainable fertilizer”, 14th October 2021.

 

Glatt & Seraplant commission 30 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant

The PHOS4Green process reacts phosphoric acid with sewage sludge incineration ash to render the P in ash more plant available, combines with other nutrients, then produces granulated fertilisers, with part-recycled P content. The 20 million € plant commissioned at Haldesleben (between Hannover and Berlin, Saxonly-Anhalt) will take 30 000 t/y ash as input and produce 60 000 t/y fertiliser. Heavy metals, iron, aluminium, silica and other minerals present in the sewage sludge remain in the final product. The process generates no waste streams. the final product is compliant with the German fertiliser ordinance (DüMV)

“Produktion in erster deutscher PHOS4green-Anlage für Recyclingdünger ist gestartet”, 8th June 2021

Details of PHOS4Green process: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

Técnicas Reunidas announces contract for 40 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant

Following demonstration pilot trials, the Técnicas Reunidas Phos4Life technology has been selected by ZAR, Switzerland, to recover and recycle P from sewage sludge incineration ash at KEBAG’s site, Zuchwil, near Soluthurn. KEBAG AG Zuchwil collects and manages waste from half a million inhabitants in the cantons of Bern and Soluthurn. ZAR is the Foundation for Sustainable Waste and Resource Use. The Phos4Life process leaches ash with sulphuric acid, followed by filtration and separation of iron, aluminium and heavy metals by solvent extraction, to generate technical-grade phosphoric acid. The 40 000 t(ash)/y plant is planned for commissioning in 2026.

“Técnicas Reunidas wins two contracts in Switzerland for the use of proprietary technologies in circular economy projects.”, 21st June 2021

Details of Phos4Life process: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

25 million US$ for P sustainability research centre: STEPS

The US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance will help lead a major phosphorus research centre, with 9 US research institutes, to accelerate fundamental science and develop technologies and practices for sustainable P management. “Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability”, STEPS, is one of six new science and technology centres “to address vexing societal problems” announced by the US National Science Foundation and will receive a total of 25 million US$ in NSF funding over five years, with the possibility of a 5-year renewal. STEPS stems in part from the network of researchers launched in 2011 with the NSF P Sustainability Research Coordination Network RCN (SCOPE Newsletter n°125) and the practitioner network of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA), with strong involvement of Jim Elser and Matt Scholz of SPA.

STEPS research is structured across three themes:

1: Human Technology Scale: physico-chemical materials and biologic material design to develop processes for capturing and releasing phosphorus species;

2: Regional and Global Scale: incorporation of these materials into structures and processes;

3: Convergence Informatics: modelling of phosphorus flows and management scenarios.

STEPS will include education - awareness and research – training actions.

STEPS is led by researchers from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, the University of Illinois, Marquette University, RTI International, Appalachian State University, and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

“Alliance Helps Lead Major P Research Center”, 8 September 2021 LINK.

US National Science Foundation announcement.

STEPS: https://steps-center.org

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/           
Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 3 2021

 

The European Commission has replied to ESPP that post-processing of digestates and composts (e.g. solid-liquid separation, stabilisation …) is not at present covered by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) CMC criteria.

ESPP raised this question to DG GROW some time ago, because such post-processing will often be implemented to condition and prepare products to place on the European market, especially digestates. The Commission’s reply also confirms that processing additives used downstream of the anaerobic digester / composter are not considered as “composting /digestion additives” (as cited in CMCs3 and 5), e.g. polymers for solid-liquid separation, pH adjusters, granulation aids …

It is in ESPP’s view preferable to resolve such questions now, rather than have them being brought up during a control of a product already on the market after implementation of the FPR from June 2022.

The Commission has indicated to ESPP that amendment of CMCs 3-5 (Annex II of the FPR) could be considered to include (certain) post-processing routes, and that this will be discussed in the next EU Fertilisers Expert Group (of which ESPP is a member) in November 2021.

ESPP proposes to work with relevant federations and operators, to prepare a list of process routes and of additives used for post-processing of composts and digestates, and collate information for each one on how widespread is application and market relevance, product benefits, additives used, extent to which compost/digestate is or is not chemically modified by the process, …

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/2009

The US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance will help lead a major phosphorus research centre, with 9 US research institutes, to accelerate fundamental science and develop technologies and practices for sustainable P management. “Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability”, STEPS, is one of six new science and technology centres “to address vexing societal problems” announced by the US National Science Foundation and will receive a total of 25 million US$ in NSF funding over five years, with the possibility of a 5-year renewal. STEPS stems in part from the network of researchers launched in 2011 with the NSF P Sustainability Research Coordination Network RCN (SCOPE Newsletter n°125) and the practitioner network of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance(SPA), with strong involvement of Jim Elser and Matt Scholz of SPA.

STEPS research is structured across three themes:

1: Human Technology Scale: physico-chemical materials and biologic material design to develop processes for capturing and releasing phosphorus species;

2: Regional and Global Scale: incorporation of these materials into structures and processes;

3: Convergence Informatics: modelling of phosphorus flows and management scenarios.

STEPS will include education - awareness and research – training actions.

STEPS is led by researchers from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, the University of Illinois, Marquette University, RTI International, Appalachian State University, and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

“Alliance Helps Lead Major P Research Center”, 8 September 2021 LINK.

US National Science Foundation announcement.

STEPS: https://steps-center.org

Industry concerned that the lack of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CAB) may prevent products from obtaining access to the market under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR).

The new FPR (EU) 2019/1009 (FPR) is set to apply from 16 July 2022 and requires third party certification for many products covered by this regulation. Accreditation of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) is required so that fertilising and plant biostimulant products are able to gain access to the EU Single Market. So far, very few CABs have applied for accreditation across EU member states to date. We are concerned that the lack of CABs will prevent products covered by the FPR from accessing the Single Market, which will be detrimental to industries and farmers alike.

In this context, EBIC, ECOFI, Fertilizers Europe and IVA are urging all concerned parties to reach out to organisations qualified and eligible to act as Conformity Assessment Bodies immediately and encourage them to apply without further delay for notification. To demonstrate the potential demand for CABs, these four associations reached out to their members to make a preliminary, joint estimate of how many products are expected to be submitted for certification under the FPR in the next two years. The data was collected by a third party in full compliance with competition rules and the resulting aggregated figures were made available to the European Commission. To gain access to the data and for further information, please contact  .

The European Commission is organising a virtual info session for certification companies interested in becoming conformity assessment bodies/notified bodies entitled "Conformity assessment of EU fertilising products: WHY and HOW to become a notified body?". Interested parties can register for this on-line event by sending an e-mail to DG GROW.

Article provided by ECOFI.

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews058
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ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

EU consultation on “Taxonomy”
P-recovery in EU list of top-100 green activities … but clarifications needed

Other events
DPP Forum (German Phosphorus Platform)
Hamburg Wasser – EWA – VSA online workshop on P-recovery
Phos4You Final Conference
CRU Sustainable Fertiliser Production
European Wastewater Management – full day on phosphorus
SPA “Legacy Phosphorus” webinar

Calls for input
Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

ESPP new Member
RecaP innovation training network (EU Marie Curie)

Policy
EU consultation on water pollutants
EU call for experts for EGTOP (Organic Farming)
EU consultation on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)
Consultation on EU Ecolabel for Growing Media and Soil Improvers
European Commission “MSA” for P4
EU legislative proposals to further sewage circularity

Global action on phosphorus
Status of development of the Irish Nutrient Sustainability Platform
EU Environment Agency: nutrient and carbon recycling from sewage sludge

Nutrient recycling
N2 Applied field trials report
SusPhos pilot producing phosphoric acid from sludge incineration ash
Quebec: agricultural application of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA)

Research
Phosphorus in global agricultural product trade
Phosphates concluded to be safe as used in cosmetics
Book chapter: phosphorus in human health
Harvesting marine biomass offers nutrient and climate benefits
P-footprint of food in Brussels
Pyrolysis of sewage sludge eliminates organic contaminants
Struvite effective fertiliser for alfalfa, Manitoba, Canada
Recycled P for Canada’s Organic farming
Struvite tested for use in hydroponics
Lab tests of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) in fertiliser production
Review of fertiliser value of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA)
Pot trials of P-fertiliser from digestates
Possibilities for P-recycling from baby nappies
Climate change and plant P uptake
Plant phosphorus in diet causes health problems

Erratum
Global peatlands phosphorus and carbon

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, which attracted 300 participants from 30 countries SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both in-person in Vienna and accessible online.

The updated outline programme of ESPC4 and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

EU consultation on “Taxonomy”

P-recovery in EU list of top-100 green activities … but clarifications needed

The EU Taxonomy will classify which economic activities, and when, are considered environmentally sustainable, so eligible for EU Green Deal investment. It may become a key tool for private investors, markets, other public policies. Phosphorus recovery from sewage is one of the 100 activities listed (at the same level as e.g. livestock production, crop production, hotels and accommodation …) but N-recovery or P-recovery from other streams is not cited.

Consultation open to 24th September 2021, 18h00 deadline (not midnight).

 

The unified EU-wide classification system (“EU Taxonomy”) will establish an operational list of economic activities, with technical screening criteria (TSC), determining in which cases each economic activity makes a ‘substantial contribution’ to an environmental objective. The Taxonomy Regulation (2020/852) defines six eligible environmental objectives: Climate change mitigation, Climate change adaptation, Water and marine resources, Circular economy, Pollution prevention and control, Biodiversity and ecosystems.

The EU has now published a report (over 1 000 pages including the annex) proposing criteria for classifying when a wide range of different industries and activities can thus be considered environmentally friendly, covering (amongst many others) agriculture (both livestock and crop production), sewage treatment, waste management ... The report and its annex propose TSC (Technical Screening Criteria for “substantial contribution” to sustainability) and criteria for DNSH (Do No Significant Harm, under Pollution Prevention and Control).

The consultation, based on the published report draft Taxonomy categories and criteria, enables public comment, for each of the nearly one hundred activities / industries listed, to comment on the description/boundaries of the activity and the proposed criteria (TSC and DNSH): ambition level of criteria, key factors missing from criteria, feasibility of implementation, comparison to state of the art, scientific justification, possible improvements of wording or clarifications.

Phosphorus recovery from waste water is one of nearly one hundred activities for which Technical Screening Criteria are proposed (Annex B, pages 922-927).

However, the proposal is limited, somewhat imprecise and in places confused:

  • It refers only to P-recovery from municipal wastewater (it is under $12: “Sewage”)
  • Only P-recovery, recovery of N or other nutrients or organic carbon are not considered
  • Only two specific routes are considered:
    - P-recovery integrated into the wastewater treatment plant, with recovery of >10% of inflow sewage works P (e.g. struvite)
    - P-recovery from sewage sludge mono-incineration ash by chemical or thermal process, with recovery of > 80% of inflow
  • The text inappropriately compares energy consumption in the above P-recovery routes to that in production of P4
  • It seems to be assumed that all recovered P materials will be used as fertiliser, whereas recovered phosphoric acid can be used in high added-value technical applications
  • Close reference is made to the German P-recovery legislation, but no mention of the Swiss legislation, which is of interest as regards implementation and state-of-the-art even if not in the EU
  • No requirements, or inappropriate, are proposed on contaminant separation in the recovery process, safety and quality of the recovered P product (it is stated that it will be “a material with a real market demand ensuring its reasonable use” but then conformity only to the old EU fertilisers regulation 2003/2003 is specified)

ESPP will input to this consultation addressing the questions above.

ESPP members and other stakeholders reading this eNews are recommended to reply to this EU public consultation, suggesting other technologies for inclusion in this section on “P-recovery”, inclusion of technologies for N-recovery, or suggesting inclusion of nutrient recovery in other sections, e.g. 1.1 Agriculture – animal production; 2.19 – Manufacture of food & beverages – circular economy; 11 - Water supply / desalination; 13.5 – Recovery of bio-waste by AD and/or composting; 13.8 – Material recovery of non-hazardous waste.

For water, the proposed criteria are based on achieving good environmental status of fresh or marine waters (as defined under the Water Framework and Marine Strategy Framework Directives), or preventing deterioration of waters in good status.

For agriculture, proposed criteria for both animal and crop production include limiting nutrient losses, in particular by a farm-gate nitrogen balance and minimum nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). ESPP will input that these criteria should be widened to include phosphorus. A livestock feeding plan, specifying feed nutrient content, and an annual crop nutrient management plan, including soil testing every 3-5 years for N and every 5 years for P, are also indicated under DNSH.

EU public consultation on “Taxonomy”, open to 24th September 18h00 CEST (not midnight). This page includes overview, links to the report and annex with proposed categories and criteria, and link to the public consultation questionnaire: https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/210803-sustainable-finance-platform-technical-screening-criteria-taxonomy-report_en With thanks to EBA for alerting ESPP to this consultation.

  

 

Other events

 

DPP Forum (German Phosphorus Platform)

9th September Frankfurt-am-Main and online. Bringing recycled phosphates to the market. In German

Programme and registration here.

 

Hamburg Wasser – EWA – VSA online workshop on P-recovery

21st September 10h30-13h00, online broadcast from the Remondis P-recovery plant, Hamburg, Germany: first full-scale operational experience of P-recovery in Hamburg, update on P-recovery in Switzerland, etc. The event is organised by Hamburg Wasser (city-owned municipal water company), with EWA (European Water Association, a water profession association with members across much of Europe) and input from VSA (Swiss Association of Water Protection Professionals)

Registration here.

 

Phos4You Final Conference

22 – 23 September, presentation of Phos4You (InterReg) project outcomes, presentations of trials of P-recovery technologies, regulatory developments, LCA aspects. With European Commission DG GROW and DG AGRI and InterReg Secretariat. Technologies presented will be: EuPhoRe, bioacidification & STRUVIA struvite, PULSE (Liège University), Parforce, Filtraflo (crab carapace P-adsorption), micro-algae.

In-person capacity is now fully booked, but online registration is still open.  Phos4You website for programme etc. Registration here.

 

CRU Sustainable Fertiliser Production

Online industry conference addressing fertiliser industry carbon footprint, emissions tax systems, Green and Blue Ammonia and Hydrogen, CO2 capture and (23rd September afternoon) phosphogypsum recycling and P-recovery.

20-23 September, online https://events.crugroup.com/sustainableferttech

 

European Wastewater Management – full day on phosphorus

28-29 September, Birmingham UK and online, European Wastewater Management Conference (EWWM, AquaEnviro) with a full day (28 September) on P-removal and P-recycling. Updates on technologies to achieve low phosphorus discharge constraints and on catchment P management, from Welsh Water, United Utilites, Yorkshire Water, Severn Trent Water, Thames Water and from technology suppliers / deliverers Arvia, Stantec, Brightwork BV, Bluewater Bio, Evoqua, WPL.

EWWM, 28-29 September 2021 https://ewwmconference.com/

 

SPA “Legacy Phosphorus” webinar

30th September, 18h-19h30 CEST (Brussels/Paris summer time), organised by the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance. The webinar aims to describe the global magnitude of the “legacy P problem”, where phosphorus from past applications overwhelms soil P storage capacity and leaks into surface waters, to discuss soil chemistry of “legacy P” and techniques for dealing with the resulting P losses to water bodies. With Dean Hesterberg, Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials, Isis Scott, University of Maryland, and Jean-Olivier Goyette, University of Montreal.

Online, free, information and registration here:

https://asu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I_KBf7BQSJeShoGrXskmIg

 

 

Calls for input

 

Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies

ESPP, DPP and NNP are updating the Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources. Information is invited on technologies to be added. To be included, technologies should be operational or demonstrated at full-scale or pilot scale, and should recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and/or micro-nutrients. The catalogue provides practical data and information on: technology supplier(s) (website, contact), process input materials (sewage sludge, ash, manure …), output products (nutrient content, organic carbon content and other properties), process description (in particular indicating fate of contaminants), current operating status (number and capacity of plants operating, capacity of pilots and duration of continuous operation) and photos of installations.

To include further technologies in the Catalogue: send information, as specified above and if possible in the format of (column titles) the Catalogue as currently online here to

ESPP - DPP - NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

A new call for abstracts for presentations and posters is now open for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna 20-22 June 2022. Deadline 30th November 2021. Proposed presentations should address the conference parallel session themes (see updated outline programme here): Policy tools and business models, Climate change links to phosphorus management, New fertilisers for nutrient sustainability, P-recycling R&D and new technologies, Regions in action for phosphorus sustainability. Posters can address any theme relating to phosphorus sustainability. Abstract submission instructions are on the conference website here.

ESPC4 – PERM5 website: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4 


 

ESPP new Member

 

RecaP innovation training network (EU Marie Curie)

The RecaP project, an H2020 MSCA-ITN led by University of Southern Denmark (SDU), will train 15 PhD students with support from 23 industrial and research organizations in 10 countries. RecaP stands for “Capture, recycling and societal management of phosphorus in the environment” and aims to contribute to sustainable phosphorus changes across the globe. Our international collaboration addresses the world's changing Phosphorus needs by creating a new generation of Phosphorus specialists to become ‘knowledge brokers’ across disciplinary silos with their interdisciplinary skills, experience and networks, ensuring transformative changes in P sustainability in the EU. RecaP will not just explore the technical aspects of the global P challenge, but also where such solutions can be implemented in a way that is socially, economically, and environmentally acceptable. The 15 PhD projects fall into one of five themes: the capture and recycling of P from wastewater and freshwater systems, novel P recovery techniques, strategies to improve crop utilization of P, novel freshwater restoration techniques, and barriers and enablers to policy and economic transformation to support recycling. All activities are connected to one another in order to create novel insights that can help create new P governance.

By becoming a member of the ESPP, RecaP joins the strong collaboration of partners contributing to a long-term vision for phosphorus sustainability in Europe and the world.

The RecaP project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skƚodowska-Curie grant agreement No 956454. Website.

 

 

Policy

EU consultation on water pollutants

The EU has opened a public consultation to 1st November 2021 on pollutants to surface and groundwaters, asking about types of chemical, sectors, types of regulation and possible sources of further information. The consultation, set in the context of the Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan, is open to both the general public and to stakeholder organisations, and is mainly general questions asking about defining priorities for concern. Chemicals and sectors mentioned include agriculture, fertilisers, pesticides, waste water treatment, pharmaceuticals, micro-plastics, household chemicals, chemicals released from household items (e.g. flame retardants). The ‘Roadmap’ prior to this consultation (10/2020) suggests that regulatory policy options after this consultation could include modifications of the current lists of chemicals designated as ‘Priority Hazardous’, ‘Priority’, ‘Watch List’ or Groundwater ‘Pollutants’ lists under the Water Framework, Environmental Quality Standards or Groundwater Directives. Currently the EU Water Framework Directive “Watch List” includes certain pharmaceuticals (e.g; Diclofenac (anti-inflammatory), Ethinylestradiol (contraceptive) …). Phosphorus is listed in the Groundwater Directive since 2014, so requiring Member States to define threshold values and monitor concentrations of phosphorus (P) in groundwater.

Water Framework Directive “Priority” and “Priority Hazardous” substances list as specified by Annex II of Directive 2008/105/EC and eight other substances for which environmental quality standards for these substances are included in the Environmental Quality Standards Directive 2008/105/EC: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-framework/priority_substances.htm

Surface water chemicals “Watch List” COM 2018/840  https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32018D0840

Groundwater Directive 2006/118/EC list of “Minimum list of pollutants and their indicators for which Member States have to consider establishing threshold values” (Annex II, Part B) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:02006L0118-20140711

Directive on Environmental Quality Standards (Directive 2008/105/EC) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32008L0105

EU public consultation, open to 1st November 2021: “Integrated water management – revised lists of surface and groundwater pollutants” LINK.

 

EU call for experts for EGTOP (Organic Farming)

Call for applications for selection of members of EGTOP, the Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production, open to 15th September 2021 here.

EU consultation on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

The EU has opened a public and stakeholder consultation to 21st October 2021 for the review of the MSFD, noting that Member States were supposed to achieve marine Good Environmental Status by 2020. Questions address the state of Europe’s marine environment, definition of Good Environmental State (GES) and is this definition clear and coherent?, effectiveness of different policy actions, obstacles to achieving GES, benefits of the Directive, resources allocated by Member States for MSFD actions, coherence with other EU policies, added value of the Directive. Two questions specifically mention nutrients: proposed actions the public is ready to do (proposed option: eat less meat and fish, so reducing nutrient losses) and ‘Descriptors’ characterising Good Environmental Status for marine waters (one option: excess nutrients). ESPP will input underlining the need to reduce N and P inputs to coastal waters, with Marine Region nutrient reduction targets, coherent with the Farm-to-Fork -50% nutrient loss target 2030, and actions in EU agricultural and water policies. ESPP will also emphasise the links between coastal eutrophication and climate change.

EU public consultation, open to 21st October 2021: “Protecting the marine environment – review of EU rules” LINK.

 

Consultation on EU Ecolabel for Growing Media and Soil Improvers

Comments are open to 19/9/2021 on draft revised EU Ecolabel criteria for Growing Media and Soil Improvers. Resource-efficient use of nutrients is emphasised and some % recycled materials requirements are proposed. The proposals, however, in fact suggest a minimum 30% of “organic” components (not necessarily recycled) or alternatively a minimum 30% recycled content of mineral components. Furthermore, these requirements are proposed for Growing Media only, not for Soil Improvers. ESPP will input suggesting that the proposed 30% minimum content of recycled or secondary materials should apply to both organic and mineral components, and also specifically to nutrients (P and N) where significant in the product. ESPP will also comment regarding definitions of phosphorus content, definition of “organic” and “biological origin” (exclude “fossil” materials) and coherence of specifications with the EU Fertilising Products Regulation.

Draft revised EU Ecolabel criteria for Growing Media and Soil Improvers (download the document titled “ANNEX_Stakeholders consultation July – September. Draft proposal of the Commission Decision that establishes EU Ecolabel criteria for growing media and soil improvers” and the document “Table for comments” necessary to submit your comments). Deadline 19th September 2021 https://susproc.jrc.ec.europa.eu/product-bureau/product-groups/450/documents

 

European Commission “MSA” for P4

The EU (JRC) has published the Material System Analysis (“MSA”) for elemental phosphorus (P4 / white phosphorus), using the JRC Critical Raw Materials common methodology and drawing on the workshop co-organised with ESPP (2020, full summary, see SCOPE Newsletter n°136). The MSA for P4 is published along with those of eight other materials added to the EU Critical Raw Materials List (CRM) in 2017 (as was P4). The EU MSA methodology was developed by Deloitte in 2015 (see critique of the MSA for phosphate rock in SCOPE Newsletter n°119) and updated by JRC (Torres de Matos et al. 2020). It aims to provide a data set for each material for flows and stocks in the EU, so highlighting hotspots, bottlenecks and possibilities for circularity.

The elemental phosphorus (P4) MSA identifies that although this represents only 2-3% of total phosphate rock use, P4 and its derivatives are essential for a wide range of end-uses including fire safety, water treatment, catalysts, lubricants, electronics, pharmaceuticals … P4 is produced from phosphate rock in specific high-temperature furnaces, with high energy consumption. Europe has today no P4 furnace, and is dependent on imports, principally from Kazakhstan, Vietnam and China (not necessarily in this order of magnitude).

Many phosphorus chemicals, and also the extremely high-purity phosphoric acid needed in electronics, can only today be feasibly produced via P4 (from P4 or from P4 derivatives). Because of the energy cost of P4 production, phosphate fertilisers, animal feed phosphates, detergent phosphates (but not phosphonates) are today produced from phosphate rock via phosphoric acid (“wet acid route”), followed by purification, and this is increasingly also the case for (human) food phosphates and metal treatment. The MSA notes that use of P4 derived chemicals in lithium-ion batteries, currently limited, may significantly increase in the future.

The MSA concludes that the EU is overall self-sufficient in manufacture of end-use chemicals reliant on P4 / P4 derivatives, but is entirely dependent on import of P4 / P4 derivatives for this manufacture.

Recycling of P4 is today inexistent (the MSA concludes EOL-RIR and EOL-RR both zero), but JRC notes that recycling of P-based flame retardants may develop, and that several projects are looking at producing P4 in the EU from phosphorus-rich wastes, in particular sewage sludge incineration ash.

Lastly, JRC underlines the difficulties in establishing quantitative data on P4 flows, because currently significant uses can be based on either “wet-acid” or P4 derivatives.

“Material System Analysis of Nine Raw Materials: Barytes, Bismuth, Hafnium, Helium, Natural Rubber, Phosphorus, Scandium, Tantalum and Vanadium”, C. Torres de Matos et al., European Commission JRC, EUR 30704 EN, 2021 DOI

 

 

EU legislative proposals to further sewage circularity

Eureau, the European water sector federation, has proposed changes to EU water and waste regulations to facilitate recycling from sewage. Eureau says the objectives of sewage sludge recycling, stated in the Urban Waste Water Treatment (UWWTD) and the Sewage Sludge Directives should be grouped and clarified in one legal instrument. Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) obligations concerning emissions of industrial chemicals into municipal sewage networks should be tightened to ensure better upstream information of water operators and to exclude all risks of discharge of SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern). Regulatory status of anaerobic digesters treating a mixture of sewage sludge and other organic materials should be clarified. End-of-Waste criteria should be developed for materials recovered from sewage.

Eureau July 2021: Position paper “Enabling the circular potential of sewage sludge within the EU legislative framework. A critical analysis of the current urban waste water treatment sludge legislation with respect to the circular economy” www.eaureau.org and direct link HERE.

 

 

 

Global action on phosphorus

 

Status of development of the Irish Nutrient Sustainability Platform

Following stakeholder meetings, this all-Ireland platform aims to support nutrient circularity and expects an initial 20+ paying members. The all-Ireland Nutrient Sustainability Platform (INSP) project was initiated with an Ireland EPA study in 2014. This led to a “Founders Day” stakeholder meeting in 2019 with nineteen industry, governmental and academic organisations present. This Day validated a platform vision and mission, a proposed structure, budget and funding model. The aim is to employ a full-time platform manager. The budget, as now reviewed, aims for c. 50% funding from membership fees (approx.. 20 members), and the remainder from research grants or projects. Signature of members is now ongoing.

“An Irish Nutrient Sustainability Platform to underpin sustainable development”, Ireland EPA Report n°381, June 2021, V. O’Flaherty et al., 51 pages HERE.

 

 

EU Environment Agency: nutrient and carbon recycling from sewage sludge

The Agency estimates that P-recovery from 50% of the sewage sludge currently not valorised to farmland could replace up to 10% of fertiliser P, with potential also for recovery of N and S. The study considers that the potential of sewage sludge to increase soil fertility by input of organic carbon cannot be calculated with available data. The study is based on Eurostat data for 2018 or 2017 full implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive requirements for sewage collection and treatment (but does not take into account possible more stringent nutrient requirements resulting from the Water Framework Directive or other policies). It assumes 100% valorisation of phosphorus in sewage sludge applied to farmland (after composting and/or anaerobic digestion), mono-incineration of 50% of sewage sludge not applied to farmland and 90% P-recovery from mono-incineration ash.

In 2017-2018, some 10.4 million tonnes (DM/y) of sewage sludge were produced in the EU (17 gDM/capita/year), with 83% of the population connected to sewerage (sewage collection systems). Destination of sewage sludge is unclear, because different Member States have categories such as “other” or “compost”, but probably 48% is used in agriculture, 23% incinerated and 28% is landfilled or otherwise disposed.

The study specifically looks at four countries (Estonia, Germany, Italy and Sweden) and at two case studies of contaminants (DEHP, a phthalate used widely in PVC and benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) and polycyclic aromatic carbon released in smoke (wood and other fuels, tobacco, barbecues …).

The European Environment Agency concludes that 1% - 10% of P fertiliser used in the EU (in 2018) could be replaced by P in sewage sludge, via agricultural use and application of P-recovery to half of the ash where sludge is incinerated.

There is also potential to recover and additional 3 500 GWh electricity (on top of current production) if sludge currently landfilled or composted is instead anaerobically digested (to produce biogas methane).

Currently agricultural use of sewage sludge represents nearly 1% of EU nitrogen fertiliser use, but this could be increased if N was recovered in sewage treatment rather than denitrified to N2 released to the air.

The report recommends:

  • Improvements to sewage sludge data in Europe, in particular concerning treatment and disposal routes;
  • Further analysis of the energy, nutrient and organic carbon potential of sewage sludges;
  • Action to reduce contaminant inputs upstream of sewage works, and also investigation of new solutions in sewage and sludge treatment to address contaminants.

“Sewage sludge and the circular economy”, European Environment Agency, N. Anderson et al., 17th May 2021, 138 pages. Online here.

 

 

Nutrient recycling

N2 Applied field trials report

ESPP member, N2 Applied has published results showing that their process treating manure resulted in higher wheat protein yields, NUE comparable to mineral N fertiliser and reduced manure ammonia and methane emissions. N2 Applied supplies on-farm units which condition and nitrogen-enrich manure (or other organic materials) using only air and electricity (see ESPP eNews n°33). The resulting Nitrogen Enriched Organic Fertiliser (NEO) has a better N:P ratio than manure. Ammonia and methane emissions in manure storage and use are avoided. In 2020, field trials were carried out using the NEO fertiliser on wheat at ten locations in Scandinavia, the UK and South Africa. Results show that the N2 Applied NEO fertiliser led nearly always to higher wheat protein content (average +41%). The trials also showed NUE (nitrogen use efficiency) comparable to mineral nitrogen fertiliser and considerably better than for manure/slurry. The trials in Sweden and in the UK also showed near zero loss of ammonia and methane with N2 Applied, compared to 0.25 kg ammonia and 0.48 kg methane loss per tonne of untreated manure (over 108 summer days).

“Performance Report 2020. NEO by N2 Applied” here.

 

SusPhos pilot producing phosphoric acid from sludge incineration ash

A 25 kg ash/day pilot is being tested in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, using sewage sludge incineration ash to produce phosphoric acid. The first step of the process is based on the same overall principles as others already operational or under development (EasyMining AshtoPhos, Remondis Tetraphos, ZAR/Técnicas Reunidas Phos4Life, …): attack of the ash using acid, but the subsequent processing does not use water, relying on solvent extraction to separate out purified phosphoric acid. By-products are iron/aluminium salts (for recycling to sewage works for P-removal). Heavy metals are fixed into inert an insoluble minerals stream, potentially valorisable in construction, and iron and aluminium are removed and recovered as recyclable salts.  SusPhos claim that the proprietary organic solvent and extraction process used enable production of high quality phosphoric acid and >95%  heavy metal removal in a cost-effective, simple system without ion exchange or membranes  In addition, the process can produce high-purity ammonium phosphates in a simple add-on step. The SusPhos process has also been adapted to use struvite as input, with ongoing development for iron phosphate (vivianite) The developers will start a 4 000 kt/y pilot in October 2021 and indicate the aim to build a full-scale plant (50 000 t/y input) in the Netherlands in coming years.

“Recycling: SusPhos maakt de fosfaatcirkel rond”, VNCI Royal Association of the Dutch Chemical industry, July 2021, LINK.

 

Quebec: agricultural application of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA)

SSIA from Montreal sewage works has been used directly as an agricultural amendment since 2016 with c. 8 000 tonnes of ash applied to farmland in 2020. The ashes are classed by agronomic value (P and lime contents). A report prepared on request of the Jean-R. Marcotte wastewater treatment plant, Montreal, presents in detail the use of the sewage sludge incineration ashes as an agricultural fertiliser. 15% of the 50 000 tonnes of sewage produced by the sewage works were spread on farmland in 2020. The ashes can be sorted into three categories:

  • Fertil Cendres. Minimum 0.6% “available” phosphorus (as P), pH < 11.3. This material is registered by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and can be used as a fertiliser.
  • Fertil Cendres PLUS. Minimum 1.3% “available” phosphorus (as P). A new registration is pending.
  • Liming ash. pH > 11.3

“Available” phosphorus is defined as NAC (neutral ammonium citrate) soluble, generally considered to be a good indicator of plant availability

The wastewater treatment work’s sewage sludge incineration ash contains an average of 3.7% total phosphorus (P), range 1.2% - 6.5%, and average 1.9%, range 0.4% - 7.4% plant “available” (as P). The ash contains nearly zero nitrogen and only 1.2% potassium (average, as K). Because the soluble potassium is lost to water in the sewage works, the remaining K is mostly not plant available. Heavy metal and dioxin levels meet the Canada CFIA regulation requirements. The liming ash can meet the requirements of BNQ 0419-090, Quebec Standard for “Liming materials from industrial processes”.

The report notes that in 2020 the agricultural use of the ash costs more than landfill disposal, but that changes in landfill tax and a tax on incineration (resulting from the Quebec Organic Matter Recovery Strategy, see SCOPE Newsletter n°134) could make the agricultural use of sludge ash cost-effective in coming years.

Hébert, M. 2021. « Recyclage agricole des cendres de boues d’épuration municipales de Montréal ‐

État des lieux et optimisation des pratiques ». In French, 71 pages, inc. 3-page English summary. http://marchebert.ca/publications/

The report will be presented in English at the NEBRA (US North East Biosolids and Residuals Association Conference, 7th October 2021.

 

Research

 

Phosphorus in global agricultural product trade

P in traded crops and livestock products (not including P traded in fertilisers, phosphoric acid, other chemicals, phosphate rock) is estimated to be c. 16% of that in harvested biomass. This means an estimate of 17.5 MtP/y in harvested biomass, which compares to the ESPP Phosphorus Factsheet estimate of 17 – 24 MtP/y in phosphate rock mined annually worldwide. The study estimates a global cropland soil P budget (inputs, outputs) assuming losses by leaching + runoff of 12.5% (based on Bouwman 2013). P in globally traded crops and livestock products is estimated at 2.8 million tonnes P / year (2014), of which 70% in soybean (0.71 MtP/y), wheat (0.66 MtP/y) and maize (0.54 MtP/y). Only 12 countries were net P exporters and the biggest net P-exporters were the USA and Brazil, the biggest net importer was China (note: this concerns only P in crops and livestock products traded). The authors estimate that global trade in agricultural products saves net c. 0.2 MtP/y (ESPP note: c. 1% of global fertiliser use) because of different P use efficiencies between countries. The authors underline that much larger savings could be made by global cooperation to improve PUE (phosphorus use efficiency). The paper includes eleven very visual diagrams illustrating P-flows between countries, by crop type, importing and exporting countries, fertiliser savings vs. wastage.

“Influences of international agricultural trade on the global phosphorus cycle and its associated issues”, F. Lun et al., Global Environmental Change 69 (2021) 102282, DOI.

 

Phosphates concluded to be safe as used in cosmetics

A 52-page analysis of toxicology data on phosphoric acid and 30 inorganic phosphate salts, based on over 150 references, concludes that they are safe “as used” in cosmetics. The review covers phosphoric acid and calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium phosphates, metaphosphates and pyrophosphates. The most widely used inorganic phosphates in cosmetics are indicated to be phosphoric acid (mostly in wash-off products) and dicalcium phosphates (mostly leave-on). Dicalcium phosphate is indicated to be used at up to 50% in toothpastes. The review considers skin irritation, oral toxicity, accidental inhalation and possible long-term effects. Phosphoric acid is irritating and corrosive at low pH. The analysis concludes that all of these inorganic phosphates are safe for use in cosmetics when formulated to be not irritating.

“Safety Assessment of Phosphoric Acid and Its Salts as Used in Cosmetics”, W. Johnson et al., International Journal of Toxicology 2021, Vol. 40(Supplement 1) 34S-85S DOI.

The authors are all affiliated to the Expert Panel for Cosmetic Ingredient Safety, part of the “Cosmetic Ingredient Review”. The organisation is financially supported by the US cosmetics industry (Personal Care Products Council) and supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Federation of America and its reviews are “independent” of the industry trade body.

 

Book chapter: phosphorus in human health

This 88-page review includes some emerging human health research areas such as phytate, phosphate polymers and phosphorus action as a signalling molecule. The authors note that levels of P in human diets worldwide are on average twice that needed by the body, posing questions of possible health effects of high P intake, especially with phosphate food additives which are much more bio-assimilable than most P in foodstuffs. Phytate, a widespread form of P in plant materials (see SCOPE Newsletter n°109) is generally considered to be not digested by humans, so that its P content is not absorbed in the gut. However, recent research shows that some phytate may be available, especially if the diet is low in calcium. Dietary phytate has benefits of reducing absorption of fat and sugar from food, but can also reduce absorption of essential minerals such as Zn, Fe, Ca. Mechanisms of P homeostasis in the body are detailed, including the roles of calcitonin, vitamin D, PTH (parathyroid hormone), GFG23 and Klotho. Possible health effects of high blood phosphorus (serum orthophosphorus = Pi) are suggested including feedback on these signalling molecules, insulin secretion, bone health, calcification of arteries and modification of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), brain health (possibly linked to Pi levels in CSF – cerebrospinal fluid), kidney health, cell autophagy (self-destruction) and ageing. Inorganic polyphosphate polymers, found in mammal cells at very low levels, are an emerging area of research. They appear to be involved in energy storage, would healing and inflammation, protection of protein structure, neuron health and vascular functions. The authors suggest that more research is needed into possible health impacts of high diet P, in particular on brain health, and into possible induced changes in polyphosphate levels.

“The emerging role of phosphorus in human health”, P. Bird & N. Eskin, Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, Volume 96, 2021 DOI.

 

Harvesting marine biomass offers nutrient and climate benefits

Blue-green circular economy: LCA for seven examples of harvesting cultivated or spontaneous biomass from the sea shows benefits for climate and for eutrophication mitigation. All cases studied were in the Baltic or Kattegat Seas. Four aquaculture cases: mariculture of sugar kelp (Saccharina latissimi, used for production of fuels or chemicals), blue mussels (for food, at two sites), and ascidians (sea squirts, for food). Three cases of spontaneous biomass: invasive Pacific oysters (aquaculture of this species is forbidden, but it is harvested for control purposes and then sold as food), common reed (Phragmites) and harvest of mixed beach-cast seaweed. LCA analysis show that the emissions of CO2-equiv and of phosphorus to water related to harvesting and supply chain activities are low, compared to N, P and C contained in the harvested biomass, so that all seven cases contributed positively to mitigation of eutrophication and to net climate emissions reduction, as well as bringing benefits such as improved water quality and clean seafronts. Discussions with stakeholders underlined the need to improve science evidence of benefits of such blue-green economy activities, which are often locally specific, in order to support discussions with policy makers and investors. Stakeholders noted the challenges posed by complex and outdated regulatory landscapes.

“Marine biomass for a circular blue-green bioeconomy?: A life cycle perspective on closing nitrogen and phosphorus land-marine loops”, J-B. Thomas et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology 2021;1–18 DOI.

 

 

P-footprint of food in Brussels

The phosphorus footprint for Brussels Capital Region is calculated as (average) 7.7 kgP/person/year, that is ten times higher than the actual food intake of 0.7 kgP/year (1.9 gP/day). The study is based on estimated consumption of 19 different food groups, derived from the Belgian Household Budget Survey 2014, average nutrient content for each food group and estimates of P-inputs to produce each foodstuff, based on feed consumption I livestock-producing regions and fertiliser use in crop-growing countries compared to food product outputs. 60% of the inputs to food production are from manure (ESPP comment: this could be considered as “recycled P”, so not as “input” to the P-footprint) and 40% from mineral fertiliser). The study assumes 100% recycling of P in food waste and sewage sludge (this optimistic assumption leads to a conservative estimate of the P-footprint (underestimate).

Most of the P inputs are for livestock production, and a shift to vegetarian or vegan diets would reduce the P-footprint to 4.8 kgPperson//year –40%) or 0.9 kgP/person/year (-90%) respectively. The authors also conclude that consuming only food produced in Belgium would increase the P-footprint because of high manure use in Flanders.

“A resource-based phosphorus footprint for urban diets”, A. Papangelou et al., Environ. Res. Lett. 16 (2021) 075002 DOI.

 

 

Pyrolysis of sewage sludge eliminates organic contaminants

An up-to-date review of published data on biochars shows that organic contaminants and microplastics in sewage sludge are largely destroyed, resulting in a safe product. This is a response to the EU’s decision to exclude sewage sludge from inputs to “Pyrolysis and gasification materials” used in fertilising products (EU Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS criteria) and the European Commission JRC STRUBIAS report (DOI see page 138) which “recommends that the scientific knowledge base be further developed in order to demonstrate that the use of EU fertilising products derived from (specific) pyrolysis & gasification materials does not present an unacceptable risk”. The review identifies 20 studies with data on over 100 different organic pollutants: over 50 different pharmaceuticals, PFAS, several organic consumer chemicals, dioxins, PCBs, PAHs, hydrocarbons, hormones, antibiotic resistance genes (ABRs), microplastics. This data shows that pyrolysis at 500°C (and in some cases also at lower temperatures) reduces levels of nearly all of these contaminants by >99%. In many cases, such as for microplastics or PFAS, contaminants were reduced below detection limits. Pharmaceuticals were mostly reduced by >99% to non-detectable levels. The authors note that in some cases, the organic contaminants may be not eliminated but transferred to the vapor phase. However, modern pyrolysis installations include higher temperature post-combustion, to recover energy and this will eliminate such contaminants and prevent environmental contamination.

A previous paper (2020) shows that doping sewage sludge with potassium salts before pyrolysis significantly improves the plant availability of phosphorus in biochar, as well as providing potassium to plants.

“Unlocking the Fertilizer Potential of Waste-Derived Biochar”, W. Buss et al., ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2020, 8, 12295−12303, DOI.

“Pyrolysis Solves the Issue of Organic Contaminants in Sewage Sludge while Retaining CarbonMaking the Case for Sewage Sludge Treatment via Pyrolysis”, W. Buss, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2021 DOI.

 

 

Struvite effective fertiliser for alfalfa, Manitoba, Canada

Recovered struvite (Ostara) improved alfalfa productivity in the field (clay soil, low phosphorus Olsen P 2.6, pH 8.1). No nitrogen fertiliser was applied (alfalfa is a nitrogen-fixing legume) to simulate Organic Farming. In the 3-year field trial, struvite increased forage shoot growth biomass and shoot P concentration, with increased effect in the second and third years, despite application of struvite only in the first year. Fertiliser P-recovery was c. 26% after three years. Pot trials were also carried out with alfalfa, comparing struvite to mono ammonium phosphate (MAP) in soil with Olsen P 10 pH 7.1 and Olsen P 6 pH 8.0. In the pot trials, alfalfa response to both struvite and MAP only showed at the highest application rate in the neutral soil (in this case, struvite gave similar results to MAP) and not at all in the alkaline soil, suggesting that alfalfa had sufficient P available in these soils. The authors conclude that recovered struvite is an effective P source for Organically grown alfalfa and so could help alleviate P deficits in Organic Farm systems reliant on biological nitrogen fixation.

“Efficacy of struvite as a phosphorus source for alfalfa in organic cropping systems”, J. Thiessen Martens et al., EGU21-8078 LINK. This study was supported by Ostara.

 

Recycled P for Canada’s Organic farming

Review concludes that Organic farm systems are often P-deficient and recycled nutrients could help address this, e.g. insect frass (from processing food waste), struvite from municipal wastewater or food waste digestate. Several cited references show that Organic farms tend to be phosphorus deficient, especially when relying on BNF = Biological Nitrogen Fixation. (Welsh 2009, Reimer 2020 – see ESPP eNews n°49, Entz 2001, Knight 2010, Gosling 2005. ESPP note: also Ohm 2017). Insect frass (waste from insect production) from insects fed food waste and food waste digestate are both approved for Organic farming in Canada. Struvite from livestock manure or from plant wastes is approved, but not struvite from sewage. Several studies cited show that insect frass can be an effective fertiliser (although high doses may inhibit plants, possibly because of ammonium levels), but further research is needed into frass from insects fed other materials. Food waste digestates have also been shown to be effective fertilisers, with improvement possible by post-digestion processing. Many studies show the fertiliser effectiveness of struvite. The Canadian population generates c. 3 million tonnes P / year in human waste and food waste, i.e. only c. 8% of Canada’s P-fertiliser imports (whereas sewage alone represents 50 – 60% of Europe’s P-fertiliser imports). However, this potential for recycled P is considerably greater than current needs of Canada’s Organic Farms, but with the need to redistribute from populated to agricultural regions. The authors conclude that incorporating recycled nutrients into agriculture is essential for food security and sustainability and could contribute to ameliorating phosphorus deficiencies in Organic Farming. Barriers to uptake by Organic farmers are likely to be supply availability of recycled fertilisers, logistics / transport and cost.

“Recycled Nutrients as a Phosphorus Source for Canadian Organic Agriculture: A perspective.”, J. Nicksy & M. Entz, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 2021,  DOI.

 

Struvite tested for use in hydroponics

Lab tests show that struvite is an effective fertiliser for use in hydroponics, applied as granules in the perlite substrate for French beans. The struvite used was Suez PhosCareTM PhosphogreenTM from Aarhusvand A/S municipal sewage works, Denmark (see SCOPE Newsletter n°125), as granules 0.5 – 1.5 mm diameter. Because struvite has a low water solubility, it does not directly dissolve into the hydroponic nutrient solution, so it was mixed with perlite in a perforated plastic bag (holes < 1 mm), into which the beans were planted (as 14-day old seedlings) and grown for nearly 10 weeks. Prior validation tests showed that the perforated bag did not impact bean crop production. Struvite was tested at various rates ranging from 1 to 20 g of struvite per plant and compared to soluble mineral P fertilizer in the hydroponic nutrient solution. The pH of the hydroponic solution in the struvite tests was approximately 7. Results show that struvite at > 5 g/plant resulted in better initial plant growth than the dissolved mineral P fertilizer, as well as higher bean crop yield and considerably lower P losses to the hydroponic leachate (nearly 70% of the dissolved mineral P fertilizer was lost to leachate). The authors suggest that the higher initial growth may be related to the ammonia N content of the struvite (released as needed by the plants). The authors conclude that these tests show that struvite granules are a potentially effective P fertilizer for hydroponics.

In a previous study, also using struvite similarly for bean tests, nitrogen in the hydroponic nutrient solution was substituted by rhizobium inoculation. This led to a 50 – 60 % bean yield reduction although the combination of both struvite and rhizobium seemed to be compatible and promising for further research.

“Recovered phosphorus for a more resilient urban agriculture: Assessment of the fertilizer potential of struvite in hydroponics”, V. Arcas-Pilz et al., Science of the Total Environment 799 (2021) 149424 DOI.

“Assessing the environmental behavior of alternative fertigation methods in soilless systems: The case of Phaseolus vulgaris with struvite and

rhizobia inoculation”, V. Arcas-Pilz et al., Science of the Total Environment 770 (2021) 144744 DOI.

 

Lab tests of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) in fertiliser production

In lab tests, 25% of phosphate rock was substituted by SSIA in superphosphate production, showing no difference in fertiliser effectiveness in maize pot trials and no impact on heavy metal levels in the plant. The sludge ash was from the Sülzle Kopf gasification process and had total P of 9.9%, compared to 11.8% P in the phosphate rock used (sedimentary, Israel). The P in this SSIA was identified as (for the crystalline part) mainly Ca3Mg3(PO4)2, whereas the authors suggest that P in SSIA is generally mainly whitlockite Ca3(PO4)2 or similar (based on Donatello et al. 2013). Superphosphate was produced by dissolving either 100% phosphate rock, or 75% rock + 25% SSIA, in 95% sulphuric acid. The superphosphate using 25% SSIA showed slightly higher cadmium and nickel levels compared to that from phosphate rock only, slightly lower chromium, significantly higher lead and very much higher (order of magnitude) copper and zinc. 10-week pot trials with maize, in a low-P soil, pH 5.2, tested the two superphosphates, struvite (Stuttgart process), the SSIA, the phosphate rock and a control (no P fertiliser). The pot trials showed the highest maize biomass production with struvite, high and the same between the two superphosphates, but significantly lower with rock phosphate and even lower with sewage sludge incineration ash (c. 25% of biomass produced with superphosphates or struvite). None of the heavy metals were significantly different with superphosphate using SSIA (or struvite) compared to superphosphate from rock. The authors hypothesise that significant inputs over the long term of SSIA replacing phosphate rock in fertiliser production could decrease the solid / soil solution partitioning of copper, nickel and lead.

“Producing Superphosphate with Sewage Sludge Ash: Assessment of Phosphorus Availability and Potential Toxic Element Contamination”, Y. You et al., Agronomy 2021, 11, 1506, DOI.

Review of fertiliser value of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA)

Based on over 200 references, the authors conclude that SSIA offers significant potential for P-recovery but is highly variable, showing inconsistent results when used directly as a fertiliser, and contains contaminants. Useful collated data is provided on SSIA particle size, surface area, phosphorus content, chemical form of phosphorus in SSIA and contents of other elements and of contaminants. Variations confirm that SSIA is specific to each sewage treatment works. Fourteen studies of agricultural land application of SSIA are listed. Several of these studies showed that plant biomass or P uptake was higher with SSIA than with no added phosphorus (control), but this was often with P loadings higher than agronomic requirements. SSIA generally shows very considerably lower fertiliser effectiveness than mineral P fertiliser. Cases are recorded of crop uptake of copper and zinc when SSIA was applied. The authors conclude that more research is needed into possible fertiliser value of SSIA, untreated and after chemical / heat treatments.

“Land application of sewage sludge incinerator ash for phosphorus recovery: A review”, P. Ma, C. Rosen, Chemosphere 274 (2021) 129609 DOI.

 

Pot trials of P-fertiliser from digestates

A precipitated phosphate salt from manure + energy crop digestate liquid fraction, and dried solid fraction (40°C, 120°C) were tested in 50-day pot trials with maize. Two different soils were tested: silty loam subsoil, nutrient poor, low biological activity, pH 7.3 and clay loam agricultural top soil, pH 7.4. The phosphate salt was recovered by acidification (sulphuric acid, to release phosphorus to soluble orthophosphate) then sodium hydroxide addition, and was a mixture of calcium and magnesium phosphates. In the top soil, the precipitated P salt showed fertiliser effectiveness (increased maize dry matter), slightly higher than with mineral P fertiliser (triple super phosphate TSP). In the biologically inactive subsoil, the P-salt alone was less effective than TSP, but P-salt plus dried digestate was in some cases as effective. The dried digestates alone showed lower fertiliser effectiveness than TSP in this short-duration pot trial.

“Efficiency of Recycled Biogas Digestates as Phosphorus Fertilizers for Maize”, I-M. Bach et al., Agriculture 2021, 11, 553, DOI.

 

Possibilities for P-recycling from baby nappies

The quantity potential (case of Australia), possible technologies and needed changes to disposable nappy design and management for phosphorus recycling are reviewed. For Australia, with a population of just over 25 million, the study estimates that total P in human urine and excreta is around 13 million tonnes P / year, of which c. 3 MtP/y goes to disposable baby nappies and is currently lost in solid waste disposal. Nearly 25 publications on nappy recycling are assessed, including composting, pyrolysis, energy recovery, recovery of fibres or polymers or use as a fibre additive in concrete. Of these, only the composting routes (and potentially pyrolysis biochar production) reuse the phosphorus and nutrients, plus one study of nutrient solution extraction (Nobel & Han 2020, see below). The authors note that nutrient recovery from disposable nappies requires redesign for sustainability of the nappy product and the use cycle, for example nappies with two separable layers, with the absorbing layer biodegradable, separate collection and processing logistics.

Nobel & Han (2020) tested at the lab scale extraction of nutrients from used disposable nappies by shredding, then using sodium hydroxide to dissolve cellulose fibres (c. 15% of unused diaper weight) and super absorbent polymers (c. 30%) and release nutrients to solution, then neutralisation using nitric acid, and finally sterilisation to remove possible pathogens. This study notes that around 65% of mass of used diapers is water. A concentration of 1 molar or higher sodium hydroxide showed to be necessary.

“Phosphorus circular economy of disposable baby nappy waste: Quantification, assessment of recycling technologies and plan for sustainability”, R. Chowdhury et al., Science of the Total Environment 799 (2021) 149339, DOI.

“Method for nutrient solution extraction from used diposed diapers.”, B. Nobel & S. Han, SJ. Energy Eng. 29 (3), 34–41, 2020, DOI, PDF.

 

Climate change and plant P uptake

Meta-analysis suggests drought events may decrease soil phosphatase activity (needed for plant P uptake from organic molecules), CO2 increase and N fertilisation may increase activity, with no significant effect noted for warming. Over 610 data measurements were analysed, in each case including sample sizes and standard deviations, and covering both acid and alkaline phosphatases (phosphomonoesterases), from 97 publications. 50 data pairs for nitrogen fertilisation showed that increased N led to increased phosphatase activity (to be expected, as phosphatase production consumes N) whereas increased P fertilisation decreased activity (24 pairs, also to be expected, as P-uptake from organic forms is less necessary). Also N fertilisation often reduces soil pH, so is likely to cause a shift from alkaline to acid phosphatases. Elevated CO2 led to a small increase in soil phosphatase activity (105 data pairs), whereas warming had no significant impact (51 pairs). Drought episodes, an expected consequence of climate change in many regions, clearly reduced soil phosphatase activity (56 data pairs), particularly of acid phosphatase in Mediterranean regions, and also temperature and subtropical forests. Water content of soil is known to be a very important factor favouring plant P-uptake. Drying may however increase enzymatic activity in wetlands and organic soils. Presence of invasive species led to increased phosphatase activity (49 data pairs). Overall, this meta-analysis confirms that climate change is likely to significantly modify plant and crop P-uptake, in particular because of changes in soil humidity (see also SCOPE Newsletter n°137).

“The effect of global change on soil phosphatase activity”, O. Margalef et al., Global Change Biology, 2021, DOI.

 

Plant phosphorus in diet causes health problems

Tests with rats and humans show that phytate, the main form of P in seeds (cereals, nuts, legumes …), is digestible (normal calcium diet), with high levels causing P-related health problems such as kidney crystals and bone loss. Phytate is often considered to be non-digestible by mono-gastric animals, because it binds to minerals such as Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn (see SCOPE Newsletter n°78). This means that high phytate diets can cause health problems by inhibiting uptake of these essential minerals. Dietary phytate can however also be beneficial because it inhibits hydrolysis (and so uptake) of lipids, proteins, sugars and starch. In this work, rats were fed for 12 weeks feed with 0% to 5% added phytate (i.e. 0 – 1.4 % added phosphorus. The standard AIN-93G rat diet used contains 0.5% phytate (and total 0.3 % phosphorus). Rats fed +5% phytate and standard diet level calcium showed decreased blood calcium levels and high blood phosphorus and magnesium and developed crystal nephropathies, kidney fibrosis and severe bone loss, both symptoms associated with excess diet P. However, increasing the diet calcium for the rats (+1% Ca) prevented these mineral unbalances and negative impacts. A 12-day pilot study was also carried out on six healthy women (23-34 years) with 4 days white rice (0.35% phytate), 4 days brown rice (1.07% phytate) and 4 days brown rice + bran (2.18% phytate). Blood P, Ca and Mg remained within normal levels for all three diets, but the higher phytate diet did result in slightly decreased blood phosphorus. The authors conclude that phytate is digestible by monogastric animals when the diet calcium/phytate ratio is low.

“High-phytate/low-calcium diet is a risk factor for crystal nephropathies, renal phosphate wasting, and bone loss”, O-H. Kim et al., eLife 2020; 9:e52709, DOI.

 

 

Erratum

 

Global peatlands phosphorus and carbon

In our eNews n°56, We summarised an article by D. Schillereff et al., under the eNews title “Will atmospheric P deposition significantly impact peat bog carbon storage?”. In our summary, we stated “Mid-latitude peatlands are estimated to hold 0.23 Gt of carbon (1.7% of global soil carbon)”. This should read “Mid-latitude peatlands are estimated to hold 0.23 Gt of phosphorus (1.7% of global soil phosphorus)”.

 

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

Other events
Nutrient Platforms members’ meeting: P-recovery implementation update
DPP Forum (German Phosphorus Platform)
Hamburg Wasser – EWA – VSA online workshop on P-recovery
Phos4You Final Conference
Call for papers
Call for abstracts

Policy
EU workshop on End-of-Waste criteria
EU “Fit for 55” package proposes Carbon Border Tax on nitrogen fertilisers
French public health study calls for action on cadmium exposure
Consultation on draft standards on wastewater treatment data and P-removal
ESPP input to EU consultation on urban wastewater treatment Directive
US Senate proposes agriculture carbon credit scheme

Eutrophication
Turkey’s Marmara coast hit by “sea snot”
UNESCO says Great Barrier Reef in danger

EU Fertilising Products Regulation
STRUBIAS criteria in publication process, translations proposed
Update on cadmium limits in Member States

P-recovery
P4 project obtains EU funding
Inventory of operating phosphorus recovery and /or recycling facilities

Research
N and P inputs cause declines in invertebrates
Sewerage piping leaks could cause 20% of wastewater P loads to the environment
Societal cost-benefit of P reductions to Lake Champlain, Vermont
US dietary phosphorus intake increasing

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for four years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, which brought together nearly 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 was Covid-cancelled from 2020, and so in 2022 Vienna will offer the first major opportunity “after” - hopefully - the pandemic, for Europe and the world’s phosphorus community to come together (industry, policy makers, scientists).

We know from past months that distance meetings can be effective whilst saving time and miles, and international travel may still be difficult in 2022, so ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

For the 400 participants expected in Vienna, a strong accent will be on networking and meeting one-another, facilitated by time in the programme, space and rooms at the venue and use of an event app with a Chat function (integrating with the online Chat). This will enable direct personal contacts through discussion and questions and the possibility to make contact with and propose meetings with other participants in Vienna.

ESPC4 will particularly address:

  • The current major developments in EU policy on nutrients: Green Deal target of 50% reduced nutrient losses by 2030, revision of wastewater and sludge Directives, Circular Economy Action Plan, Critical Raw Materials, Horizon Europe and the ‘Soil Health and Food’ Mission, the EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan;
  • Update on full-scale roll-out of phosphorus recovery as Germany’s and Switzerland’s P-recovery regulations move towards implementation;
  • Regional, city and national phosphorus sustainability initiatives
  • Climate change and phosphorus management: consequences of climate change on phosphorus losses and eutrophication, impacts of nutrients and eutrophication on greenhouse gas emissions

PERM5 will discuss EU funding perspectives and industry needs for nutrient management R&D, with the emphasis on discussion and networking (PERM5 will be also accessible online). PERM5 will be followed (tbc) by a get-to-know and social session for nutrient-related Marie Curie projects and other nutrient research and young scientist networks.

A new call for abstracts will be announced for ESPC4 in September and papers already accepted in 2020 will be reconsidered.

ESPC4 and PERM5 webpage: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

Other events

 

Nutrient Platforms members’ meeting: P-recovery implementation update

Tuesday 31st August, online. Webinar open to members of nutrient platforms only (ESPP, German Phosphorus Platform, Netherlands Nutrient Platform, Nutricycle Vlaanderen, Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance North America, plus BSAG, UKWIR) will give an update on nutrient project actions and nutrient platform projects under development, and will provide information on implementation of the German and Swiss phosphorus recovery regulations.

Tuesday 31st August, 16h-18h30 CEST (Paris- Brussels time) – registration information from the nutrient platforms.

 

DPP Forum (German Phosphorus Platform)

9th September Frankfurt-am-Main and online. Bringing recycled phosphates to the market. In German

Programme and registration here.

 

Hamburg Wasser – EWA – VSA online workshop on P-recovery

21st September 10h30-13h00, online broadcast from the Remondis P-recovery plant, Hamburg, Germany: first full-scale operational experience of P-recovery in Hamburg, update on P-recovery in Switzerland, etc. The event is organised by Hamburg Wasser (city-owned municipal water company), with EWA (European Water Association, a water profession association with members across much of Europe) and input from VSA (Swiss Association of Water Protection Professionals)

Registration here.

 

Phos4You Final Conference

22 – 23 September, Essen, Germany, and online, presentation of Phos4You (InterReg) project outcomes, presentations of trials of P-recovery technologies, regulatory developments, LCA aspects. With European Commission DG GROW and DG AGRI and InterReg Secretariat. Technologies presented will be: EuPhoRe, bioacidification & STRUVIA struvite, PULSE (Liège University), Parforce, Filtraflo (crab carapace P-adsorption), micro-algae.

Phos4You website for programme etc. Registration here.

 

 

Call for papers

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems - Special Issue “Use of 15N tracers to study nitrogen flows in agro-ecosystems: transformation, losses and plant uptake”. This special issue welcomes review and research papers, including modelling studies and short communications, on 15N tracer studies on nitrogen flows in agro-ecosystems. Guest editors: Clemens Scheer and Tobias Rütting. Submissions close on 28 February 2022.

https://www.springer.com/journal/10705/updates/19175738

 

Call for abstracts

24-25 November, ManuResource Conference, the International Conference on Manure Management and Valorisaton, Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. The conference is offering (26th November) site visits to  including Eco-Energy (manure anaerobic digestion) in Oirschot and Ecoson (manure and food waste to biofuels, methanisation and organic phosphate fertilser pellets) in Son. Abstract submission deadline: 1st September 2021
https://www.vcm-mestverwerking.be/en/manuresource/23023/call-for-abstracts

 

 

Policy

 

EU workshop on End-of-Waste criteria

The European Commission (JRC) has announced a stakeholder workshop to discuss which materials streams should be on a priority list for definition of European End-of-Waste Criteria. ESPP submitted at the start of May 2021 a joint letter, signed by over 120 companies and organisations, requesting that certain material streams recovered from waste water be considered for this priority list. (This does not concern recovered materials used in fertilising products, for which the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 provides a process for defining End-of-Waste status). Eureau, AquaPublica, ESPP and other organisations are now mandating an expert to provide further information on these material streams to support this request. The material streams suggested by JRC for discussion at this workshop include “biological materials” and it is not today clear whether materials from wastewater may be considered under this title.

European Commission JRC stakeholder workshop “Scoping and developing further End-of-Waste (EoW) and By-Product (BP) criteria”, online, 14-15 September 2021. Participation of organisations selected by the European Commission only. To candidate to participate: contact before 30th July 2021.

Twitter #EoW4WWStreams

 

 

EU “Fit for 55” package proposes Carbon Border Tax on nitrogen fertilisers

European Commission proposes regulatory package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by -55% to 2030, including actions on agriculture and land use, and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) for nitrogen fertilisers. The Green Deal “Fit for 55” published (14th July 2021) is a detailed regulatory package, intending to “transform the economy” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including proposals on transports, including road and aviation fuel taxes and banning sales of greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting cars by 2035, energy efficiency and changes to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The package includes a proposal to avoid ‘carbon leakage’ by putting a carbon price on imports of certain goods (Cross Border Adjustment Mechanism CBAM), starting with cement, iron and steel, aluminium, electricity and (nitrogen) fertilisers. The proposed CBAM Regulation (Com(2021)564) proposes the border carbon tax on N, N+P, N+K and NPK mineral/chemical fertilisers, noting that the “difference in emission intensities of EU and non-EU producers is particularly high for fertilisers”. Mineral phosphorus fertilisers are not concerned if not containing nitrogen. Fertilizers Europe has expressed support in principle for the CBAM on fertilisers: Jacob Hansen, Director General, 11th March 2021Fertilizers Europe …  recognises that to raise EU’s ambition on climate while avoiding carbon leakage, the EU must put a carbon border measure in place to ensure an international level playing field”.

The proposed Regulation on Climate-Neutral Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture (COM(2021)504) proposes to implement binding targets for Member States for net carbon removal in land use and aims to make food and biomass production climate neutral by 2035, in particular citing livestock and fertiliser use. The proposal indicates inclusion of greenhouse emissions related to “nitrogen leaching and run-off” but does not specify how such nitrogen losses are calculated to relate to greenhouse emissions.

Raw materials and nutrients are otherwise absent from the “Fit for 55” package, which addresses principally energy. This is coherent in that nutrients are strongly addressed elsewhere under the Green Deal Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity packages, see SCOPE Newsletter n°139.

NGOs are critical of the “Fit for 55” package, suggesting that it is insufficiently ambitious, criticising the absence of sector-specific emissions reduction targets, exclusion of heavy industry and agriculture from ETS and continuing subsidies to fossil fuels.

European Commission press release, 14th July 2021 IP_21_3541) “European Green Deal: Commission proposes transformation of EU economy and society to meet climate ambitions” https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_3541

Fertilizers Europe press release 11th March 2021
European Environment Bureau “EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ is unfit and unfair”, 14th July 2021.

 

French public health study calls for action on cadmium exposure

Wide media coverage points to “contamination of nearly the whole French population, including children, by heavy metals”, and says breakfast cereals are the main source of cadmium, because of phosphate fertilisers. The documents published by Public Health France are less directly accusatory, but do state that cadmium levels in the French population increased from 2006-2007 to 2014-2016 and are higher than in other European countries or North America. The official website states that breakfast cereals increase cadmium levels in children, with fish, shellfish and smoking being important other sources for adults. Nearly half the French population show cadmium levels higher than that recommended by the French national health and environment agency ANSES. The official study report (ESTEBAN) indicates that in 2019 this agency (ANSES) recommended to reduce population exposure to cadmium, in particular in mineral phosphate fertiliser and organic soil amendments such as sewage biosolids. The ESTEBAN report quotes INERIS 2017  “reduction of cadmium in fertilisers seems to meet economic rather than technical obstacles”.

Nouvelle République 5/7/21 (article published widely across France) here and Le Monde here.

SantéPubliqueFrance press release 1/7/2021 here.

ESTEBAN (French national biosurveillance) report “Impregnation of the French population by cadmium”, July 2021 here and press release 1/7/2021 here.

 

Consultation on draft standards on wastewater treatment data and P-removal

Proposed new EU (CEN) standards are published and open to comment, for wastewater treatment plants: chemical phosphorus precipitation and general data requirements. prEN 12255-13 covers “chemical treatment of wastewater by precipitation/flocculation for removal of phosphorus and suspended solids”. It defines terms such as “coagulant”, “tertiary treatment”, “precipitant”. The standard indicates that P-total discharge limits “typically range from 2 mg/l down to 0.25 mg/”. The standard provides guidance for design, chemical process options, selection of precipitation chemicals, storage – preparation and dosing of chemicals, mixing, control systems, reactor - sedimentation and filtration systems, and sludge production. prEN 12255-11 covers data necessary for planning, design, construction, compliance testing, etc. of wastewater treatment plants.

Both standards are now published as drafts, and comments can be input via national standards organisations.

As usual for CEN standards, the draft texts are not freely available, and prices vary depending on different national standards body website. Texts of both standards can be purchased for a total of 9.75€ from the Estonia standards organisation www.evs.ee

 

 

ESPP input to EU consultation on urban wastewater treatment Directive

ESPP underlines the need to better protect nutrient ‘Sensitive Areas’, to integrate reuse and recovery of nutrients, and to address contaminants in sewage at source. ESPP welcomes the recognition that eutrophication remains a major challenge to be addressed, including storm overflows, agglomerations < 2 000 p.e. and “IAS” (autonomous wastewater treatment, septic tanks), and underlines that eutrophication problems will be accentuated by climate change (see SCOPE Newsletter n°137). ESPP suggests that nutrient recovery objectives should be integrated into the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, in line with the Circular Economy Action Plan, and that this should include both “recovery” and “reuse” of both phosphorus and nitrogen, underlining that sewage sludge should be managed to ensure safety (risks from contaminants, antibiotic resistance) and that sludge should be used in such a sway that account is taken of crop nutrient requirements.

ESPP input to the public consultation on the revision of the Urban Waste water Treatment Directive here.

The EU public consultation on the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive is open until 21st July 2021 HERE.

 

US Senate proposes agriculture carbon credit scheme

The draft Growing Climate Solutions Bill would (if passed by the House of Representatives and then enacted) establish a Certification Scheme for farms mitigating greenhouse gas emissions or capturing carbon. The objective is to ensure a recognised and transparent certification scheme, through USDA (US Department of Agriculture), thus facilitating farmer access to possible private carbon credit markets. The bi-partisan Bill was adopted by a large majority (92-8) on 24th June 2021 in the US Senate and must now go to the House of Representatives.

US Senate Growing Climate Solutions Bill S.1251

For information, Australia’s ”Emissions Reduction Fund” (ERF) already includes vegetation management and agriculture

 

Eutrophication

 

Turkey’s Marmara coast hit by “sea snot”

Marine mucilage has covered the Marmora Sea, caused by nutrient inputs and accentuated by climate warming. The mucilage layer is up to 30m and is damaging tourism and fishing, killing fish and can harbour pathogens. “Sea snot”, or mucilage is a slimy, gelatinous material produced by marine algae in eutrophic conditions, and also affects the Aegean Sea off Greece. Mucilage caused major problems on Italy’s Adriatic Coast in the 1990’s, largely resolved when wastewater collection and nutrient removal was implemented. The mucilage event around Istanbul is thought to be the biggest ever recorded. By late June, Turkish sea cleaning teams operating at over 200 locations had already collected 6 000 tonnes of mucilage.

Mucilage kills fish, shellfish and sea stars, by starving the water of oxygen and by suffocating fish eggs which are usually close to the surface.

25 million people live around the Marmara Sea, including 15 million in the Istanbul area. Turkey’s Government has recognised that the problem is largely caused by untreated or inadequately treated sewage and has announced that all existing sewage works will be upgraded to advanced biological treatment (currently over half undergoes primary treatment only). The Government says that, after emergency inspections, over half of the 445 wastewater treatment plants discharging into the Marmara do not need upgrade but over 140 need revision, maintenance or complete rebuild. The Government’s emergency plan will also prevent ships from discharging wastewater into the Marmara Sea, create artificial wetlands and buffers, and support farmers who switch to modern irrigation systems and instigate zero waste policies. A fertiliser factory discharging into the Marmara has been temporarily closed. Scientists however note that the Danube and Dnieper rivers also carry large pollution and nutrient loads from upstream into the Marmara, and should be addressed.

“Ministry unveils action plan to tackle the sea snot problem in Marmara”, 7th June 2021

“Authorities take concrete steps to save mucilage-covered Marmara Sea”, 15th June 2021

“Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum attended the Mucilage Coordination Board Meeting”, 14th July 2021

 

UNESCO says Great Barrier Reef in danger

A UNESCO report to its World Heritage Committee suggests that the Barrier Reef should be put on the list of site “in danger” because of climate change, water quality and land use. The main factor leading to deterioration of the Reef and recent massive coral bleaching events is water temperature increase, because of climate change, but water quality and land use are also cited, because of nutrients (in particular, dissolved organic nitrogen) and sediments. Australia has strongly criticised the proposed UNESCO decision, fearing impacts on tourism, despite its own 2019 5-year report downgrading the Reef from poor to very poor. NGOs and scientists say that Australia is failing on climate change, with its consistent refusal to commit to zero emissions by 2050. UNESCO first debated “in danger” status for the Reef in 2017, leading Australia to engage a 2 billion € action plan. This has been effective in reducing nutrients, but UNESCO says action is too slow and that climate change is not addressed.

UNESCO report draft decision, World Heritage WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add, 21st June 2021

“Unesco: Great Barrier Reef should be listed as 'in danger' “, BBC News 22nd June 2021.

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation

 

STRUBIAS criteria in publication process, translations proposed

The EU has made public finalised EU Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS criteria (struvites and precipitated phosphates, ash based products, pyrolysis and biochars). Translations are also underway (comment possible). This is the final phase before formal adoption of these criteria, which will enable them to be applicable when the new Fertilising Products Regulation enters into implementation in July 2022. The EU has also published translations of the precipitated phosphates and ash-based materials criteria, and comment is possible on these (only on the correspondence of the translation to the English text, not on the criteria themselves).

Finalised criteria texts in English and (draft) translations

Precipitated phosphate salts and derivates

Thermal oxidation materials and derivates

Pyrolysis and gasification materials

 

Update on cadmium limits in Member States

Three further Member States have recently obtained derogations allowing to maintain lower national cadmium limits in EU fertilisers than those currently fixed by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) when it enters into implementation in July 2022.

These new derogations maintain lower limits already existing in these countries: Denmark (COM decision 2020/1178) = equivalent to 48 mgCd/kgP2O5, Hungary (COM decision 2020/1184) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5 and Slovak Republic (COM decision 2020/1205) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5. The FPR (art. 3.2) also maintains derogations for lower limits which had been previously been granted: Austria (COM decision 2006/D0349 = 75 mgCd/kgP2O5, but which will become irrelevant in July 2022 because higher than the FPR limit), Finland (COM decision 2006/D0348 = 50 mgCd/kgP2O5) and Sweden (COM decision 2012/D0719 = equivalent to 20 mgCd/kgP2O5). A derogation previously requested by the Czech Republic was never granted (2006/D0390 = 50 mgCd/kgP2O5),

The FPR fixes a limit of 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 for phosphate fertilisers (organic and inorganic), with the provision that before July 2026 the European Commission will prepare a report assessing the feasibility of reducing this limit, taking into account evidence on cadmium exposure and environmental accumulation, etc.

Member States can also request to maintain existing lower limits for EU fertilisers sold on their territory (implemented through the derogations cited above) or fix new lower limits for EU fertilisers sold on their territory “based on new scientific evidence relating to the protection of the environment or the working environment on grounds of a problem specific to that Member State arising after the adoption of this Regulation”. The FPR maintains “optional harmonisation”, meaning that Member States can fix higher or lower cadmium limits, or have no cadmium limits, for “national” fertilisers (these are not regulated by the FPR).

  

 

P-recovery

 

P4 project obtains EU funding

The EU (Horizon 2020) will provide nearly 12 M€ to the FlashPhos project, led by University of Stuttgart, to develop thermo-chemical production of P4 (white phosphorus) from sewage sludge. FlashPhos is based on different technologies of project partners will develop and unify to best standards. The process will be integrated into existing industrial infrastructure (cement plants). Dewatered sewage sludge, or other organic wastes containing phosphorus, are dried and ground, then flash gasified at high temperatures with CaO (lime). The objective is to produce P4 (elemental white phosphorus), a specific form of phosphorus of high value and which is itself an EU Critical Raw Material (see SCOPE Newsletter n°136), in the EU and for which Europe is dependent on a handful suppliers from outside Europe, and which is essential for e.g. electronics, food additives, catalysts and production of a wide range of strategic organic phosphorus chemicals (flame retardants, water treatment, lubricants etc). The FlashPhos process claims to also produce a cement material and a valorisable iron metal alloy (so recovering iron salts used in wastewater phosphorus removal). The FlashPhos project will construct and test a c. 2 tonnes/day dry matter input pilot plant. Partners include ESPP member Italmatch as well as cement industry, plant manufacturers and industrial planners and consultants.

FlashPhos presentation at ESPP’s PERM4 meeting, 2nd June 2021.

Project summary on EU CORDIS website.
University of Stuttgart press release 7th June 2021.

 

 

Inventory of operating phosphorus recovery and /or recycling facilities

Christian Kabbe (P-REX Environment) has produced an updated list of full-scale P -recovery / -recycling installations, worldwide, in operation today or under construction at or downstream of wastewater treatment facilities. The list indicates nearly 120 installations, specifying the technology supplier, the location, operating since, the recovered phosphate material/product and the annual tonnage of product output.

Table online on ESPP’s website (with permission).

Information on installations missing from this table, or corrections or updates are welcome: to

 

 

 

Research

 

N and P inputs cause declines in invertebrates

A meta-analysis of over 200 nutrient enrichment studies shows that combined N+P inputs result in lower invertebrate numbers, concluding that nutrients may contribute to global invertebrate decline. The authors assessed 1 679 cases from 207 nutrient addition studies (screened from 7 348 identified by literature search). 88% of cases were temperate (12% tropical), 75% were terrestrial and 25% aquatic (of which nearly 90% freshwater).

N (and N+P) addition significantly reduced invertebrate abundance in terrestrial habitats (P input did not), whereas N+P (and probably P) significantly reduced abundance in aquatic habitats. Impacts were stronger in tropical than in temperate habitats. Results were robust for insects, zooplankton, arachnids, collembola and nematodes.

Results for invertebrate biomass were somewhat different and P significantly increased invertebrate biomass in aquatic habitats.

Results for invertebrate diversity showed no identifiable impacts, possibly because of insufficient study data.

The authors conclude that N+P inputs (together) consistently and significantly reduce invertebrate abundance both in terrestrial and aquatic environments, and suggest that anthropogenic nutrient enrichment may be a driver of the documented global invertebrate decline.

“Nitrogen and phosphorus enrichment cause declines in invertebrate populations: a global meta-analysis”, M. Nessel et al., Biological Reviews 2021 Biol. Rev. (2021), https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/brv.12771

 

Sewerage piping leaks could cause 20% of wastewater P loads to the environment

A study in Germany suggests that sewerage exfiltration today may account for 10% and 17% of environmental N and P loads from municipal wastewaters, rising to 11% and 20% if sewer remediation work is not undertaken. The study is based on data from over 11 000 municipalities across Germany and uses a combination of modelling (MONERIS Modelling of Nutrient Emissions in River Systems), data on connected populations and estimated pollution loads, upscaling of results from ten leakage studies on 4 German cities, and expert opinion. The average national sewerage wastewater loss is estimated at 2% of inflow sewage. The results are for the whole German public sewerage pipe system (450 000 km of pipes) and also private pipes (e.g. from house to public sewer) which are estimated to total 1.1 million km. The authors note the increase of leakage with sewerage pipe age and suggest that 20% of Germany’s public sewers are in need of rehabilitation of sewerage networks, especially those over 40 years old.

“Harmonized assessment of nutrient pollution from urban systems including losses from sewer exfiltration: a case study in Germany”, H. H. Nguyen & M. Venohr, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2021 DOI.

“Sewer leakage: first nationwide estimate of pollution leaking from urban systems, Germany”, European Commission ‘Science for Environment Policy’, issue 564, 6th July 2021, here.

See also Ascott et al. in SCOPE Newsletter n°119 – estimate that 1 200 tP/y leak from drinking water pipes into the environment in England + Wales.

 

Societal cost-benefit of P reductions to Lake Champlain, Vermont

A study estimates economic benefits of reducing lake phosphorus inputs, concluding that costs outweigh benefits over 35 years but benefits outweigh costs by 2100, but notes that some benefits are not accounted. The study considers the Missiquoi Bay within Lake Champlain on the Vermont – Quebec border and estimates benefits of improved water quality resulting from reduced P inputs, under different scenarios, including considering climate change impacts. Benefits estimated economically include property value (based on transaction values), tourism revenue and risk of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) caused by cyanobacteria algae. P load reduction corresponding to the current TDML limit fixed by the EPA (64% reduction) is modelled, but also reductions from 0% to 100%. If no action is taken (0% P load reduction) property sales are expected to decline by US$ 180 000 per year, tourism spending by $ 414 000 / year and ALS health impacts to increase annually by $ 90 000 / year. Cost of P-abatement is based on Vermont Agency of Administration (AoA) 2016-2019 data of 934 US$/kgP. Estimated benefit / cost ratio is around 0.4 (cost 2.5x higher than benefit) for the TDML P load reduction. The authors note that this is comparable to benefit / cost ratios estimated for other policies to reduce water pollution in the US and that, in this study, benefits are underestimated because they are calculated only for Vermont and not for the Quebec shore of the lake, do not include recreational fishing, non-ASL health benefits and non-use values of water quality, and are based on “revealed preference” values which are generally lower than “stated preference” approaches.

“Quantifying the social benefits and costs of reducing phosphorus pollution under climate change”, J. Gourevitch et al., Journal of Environmental Management 293 (2021) 112838 DOI.

 

US dietary phosphorus intake increasing

Analysis of US national nutrition survey data 1988-2016 shows increased total dietary P intake (to 1.4 gP/person/day adult average) but decreased P intake from food additives (11% of total dietary P).  The study uses NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data, comparing 1988-1994 to 2015-2016. Dietary phosphorus intakes were estimated by comparing NHANES data on what people ate, to food data bases indicating phosphorus content of different foods. For “added” phosphorus (P in phosphorus food additives), levels in different food types were calculated based on numbers from food phosphate manufacturers (IFAC), taking the average of the numbers given by IFAC as minimum and maximum levels of phosphorus food additives in different foodstuffs (differences between these two numbers were small), then multiplying by the % of products in different food categories estimated to contain P additives according to the Innova Market Insights database. Average adult total dietary P intake increased from 1.3 to 1.4 gP/person/day whereas “added” P intake decreased from 0.18 to 0.16 gP/day. The five largest contributors to natural P intake were: cheese, pizza, chicken pieces, low-fat milk and eggs. Nearly 50% of dietary intake of “added” P was from cheese (phosphorus food additives are used in processed soft cheese), soft drinks, cakes – buns – biscuits. The apparent decrease in phosphorus food additive intake may be due to lower consumption of processed foods or demand for foods without additives, or may be due to inaccurate P values in food data bases.

“Trends in Total, Added, and Natural Phosphorus Intake in Adult Americans, NHANES 1988–1994 to NHANES 2015–2016”, K. and L. Fulgoni and Victor L. Fulgoni III, Nutrients 2021, 13, 2249 DOI.

The study was funded by the food phosphate additive manufacturers, IFAC (International Food Additives Council).

 

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter          eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/            Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 2 2021

 

NOTE: below is ESPP’s understanding to date and may not be fully accurate. Please verify with cited source documents.

European Commission proposes regulatory package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by -55% to 2030, including actions on agriculture and land use, and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) for nitrogen fertilisers. The Green Deal “Fit for 55” published (14th July 2021) is a detailed regulatory package, intending to “transform the economy”” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including proposals on transports, including road and aviation fuel taxes and banning sales of greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting cars by 2035, energy efficiency and changes to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The package includes a proposal to avoid ‘carbon leakage’ by putting a carbon price on imports of certain goods (Cross Border Adjustment Mechanism CBAM), starting with cement, iron and steel, aluminium, electricity and (nitrogen) fertilisers. The proposed CBAM Regulation (Com(2021)564) proposes the border carbon tax on N, N+P, N+K and NPK mineral/chemical fertilisers, noting that the “difference in emission intensities of EU and non-EU producers is particularly high for fertilisers”. Mineral phosphorus fertilisers are not concerned if not containing nitrogen. Fertilizers Europe has expressed support in principle for the CBAM on fertilisers: Jacob Hansen, Director General, 11th March 2021 “Fertilizers Europe …  recognises that to raise EU’s ambition on climate while avoiding carbon leakage, the EU must put a carbon border measure in place to ensure an international level playing field”.

The proposed Regulation on Climate-Neutral Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture (COM(2021)504) proposes to implement binding targets for Member States for net carbon removal in land use and aims to make food and biomass production climate neutral by 2035, in particular citing livestock and fertiliser use. The proposal indicates inclusion of greenhouse emissions related to “nitrogen leaching and run-off” but does not specify how such nitrogen losses are calculated to relate to greenhouse emissions.

Raw materials and nutrients are otherwise absent from the “Fit for 55” package, which addresses principally energy. This is coherent in that nutrients are strongly addressed elsewhere under the Green Deal Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity packages, see SCOPE Newsletter n°139.

NGOs are critical of the “Fit for 55” package, suggesting that it is insufficiently ambitious, criticising the absence of sector-specific emissions reduction targets, exclusion of heavy industry and agriculture from ETS and continuing subsidies to fossil fuels.

European Commission press release, 14th July 2021 IP_21_3541) “European Green Deal: Commission proposes transformation of EU economy and society to meet climate ambitions” https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_3541

Fertilizers Europe press release 11th March 2021
European Environment Bureau “EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ is unfit and unfair”, 14th July 2021.

Wide media coverage points to “contamination of nearly the whole French population, including children, by heavy metals”, and says breakfast cereals are the main source of cadmium, because of phosphate fertilisers. The documents published by Public Health France are less directly accusatory, but do state that cadmium levels in the French population increased from 2006-2007 to 2014-2016 and are higher than in other European countries or North America. The official website states that breakfast cereals increase cadmium levels in children, with fish, shellfish and smoking being important other sources for adults. Nearly half the French population show cadmium levels higher than that recommended by the French national health and environment agency ANSES. The official study report (ESTEBAN) indicates that in 2019 this agency (ANSES) recommended to reduce population exposure to cadmium, in particular in mineral phosphate fertiliser and organic soil amendments such as sewage biosolids. The ESTEBAN report quotes INERIS 2017  “reduction of cadmium in fertilisers seems to meet economic rather than technical obstacles”.

Nouvelle République 5/7/21 (article published widely across France) here and Le Monde here.

SantéPubliqueFrance press release 1/7/2021 here.

ESTEBAN (French national biosurveillance) report “Impregnation of the French population by cadmium”, July 2021 here and press release 1/7/2021 here.

Proposed new EU (CEN) standards are published and open to comment, for wastewater treatment plants: chemical phosphorus precipitation and general data requirements. prEN 12255-13 covers “chemical treatment of wastewater by precipitation/flocculation for removal of phosphorus and suspended solids”. It defines terms such as “coagulant”, “tertiary treatment”, “precipitant”. The standard indicates that P-total discharge limits “typically range from 2 mg/l down to 0.25 mg/”. The standard provides guidance for design, chemical process options, selection of precipitation chemicals, storage – preparation and dosing of chemicals, mixing, control systems, reactor - sedimentation and filtration systems, and sludge production. prEN 12255-11 covers data necessary for planning, design, construction, compliance testing, etc. of wastewater treatment plants.

Both standards are now published as drafts, and comments can be input via national standards organisations.

As usual for CEN standards, the draft texts are not freely available, and prices vary depending on different national standards body website. Texts of both standards can be purchased for a total of 9.75€ from the Estonia standards organisation www.evs.ee

The European Commission (JRC) has announced a stakeholder workshop to discuss which materials streams should be on a priority list for definition of European End-of-Waste Criteria. ESPP submitted at the start of May 2021 a joint letter, signed by over 120 companies and organisations, requesting that certain material streams recovered from waste water be considered for this priority list. (This does not concern recovered materials used in fertilising products, for which the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 provides a process for defining End-of-Waste status). Eureau, AquaPublica, ESPP and other organisations are now mandating an expert to provide further information on these material streams to support this request. The material streams suggested by JRC for discussion at this workshop include “biological materials” and it is not today clear whether materials from wastewater may be considered under this title.

European Commission JRC stakeholder workshop “Scoping and developing further End-of-Waste (EoW) and By-Product (BP) criteria”, online, 14-15 September 2021. Participation of organisations selected by the European Commission only. To candidate to participate: contact  before 30th July 2021.

Twitter: #EoW4WWStreams

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews056
Download as PDF

Events
Future of Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater 2021
How to register fertilisers in different countries
PERM presentations and videos now online

ESPP new member: OCP

EU Fertilising Products Regulation
New proposals for by-products
Slow progress Animal By-Products, progress on other points
Call for data on pathogens / safety of recovered ammonia / sulphur
EU tender for study on fertiliser and mulch polymer biodegradability

Policy
European Commission takes Member States to court over sewage treatment
SYSTEMIC policy proposals to open markets for recycled nitrogen

Legacy Phosphorus
Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’
Soil P above agronomic recommendations does not increase yield
45 years of P fertilisation does not increase total soil P
Focusing only on decreasing soil P will take 26-65 years to reach environmental P targets
Initial soil P level defines maize productivity
Mineral fertiliser offers better P-balance than phosphate rock
Mineral fertiliser offers better crop yield than phosphate rock

IFA Smart&Green

Research and science
Will atmospheric P deposition significantly impact peat bog carbon storage?
Field trials of animal bone char as fertiliser
Pyrolysis reduces availability of phosphorus in poultry manure
Struvite effective fertiliser with lower P-loss risk
Global Phosphorus Institute launched

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

Events

Future of Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater 2021

7th July 2021, 10h30 - 16h30 CEST. Online conference will look at current status and future developments in phosphorus removal from wastewater, P-stewardship and P-recovery. Speakers include the UK Environment Agency, Isle Utilities, I-PHYC, The Rivers Trust, several UK water companies, ESPP.

https://event.wwtonline.co.uk/phosphorus/

How to register fertilisers in different countries

29th June 2021 13h-15h CEST –  free webinar organised by Fertiliser Consultants Network (FCN). Key points of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation. How to manage fertiliser registration in the transitional period 2021-2024. Specific country/regional registration: France, Greece, Romania, North Africa, India,

Programme and registration https://www.legera.eu

 


PERM presentations and videos now online

PERM thumb enews 56Speaker slides and the ‘Chat’ from the 4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM) are now online here and the video recordings of the event are available on YouTube here.

Over 370 participants took part in the 4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM) 2nd June 2021 online, organised by ESPP, Biorefine and ETA. The meeting provided a showcase to policy makers and companies of R&D underway into nutrients in Europe, enabled exchange of experience between R&D projects.

PERM4 is accompanied by a full update of ESPP’s inventory of nutrient-related R&D projects now online here www.phosphorusplatform.eu/R&D  

PERM4 web page: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/PERM4

ESPP new member: OCP

OCP logo thumb enews 56OCP Group, a leading, global producer of phosphate and fertiliser, was founded in 1920 to manage Morocco’s phosphate reserves, and is today focussed on sustainable agriculture. OCP’s purpose and mission is to “maximize the positive impact of phosphorus”. The company’s Phosphate Stewardship Policy underlines its strong commitment to sustainably managing Morocco’s phosphate resource and is aligned with the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 12: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”. Sustainable phosphate management is applied across OCP’s operations and sites; through product innovation and in R&D on re-working and recycling of phosphate resources; through its work with farmers around the world and the application of customised fertilisers; and in the development of technologies at its Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. OCP is engaged in efforts to study and develop means to effectively recycle phosphorus after its initial use to reduce the amount of mined phosphate required to produce the same quantity of food. In Africa, OCP has worked with more than one million farmers to educate on the importance of sustainable fertiliser application to maximise yields while preserving the integrity of the soil. OCP Group has developed more than forty customised fertiliser formulas for maximum efficiency and sustainable application, and to explore new technologies and products such as biostimulants and slow release fertilisers, among others, with the objective of an optimal consumption of the phosphate resource. OCP has been a founding member of the North America Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance and has now joined ESPP.

https://www.ocpgroup.ma/fr

 

 

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation

 

New proposals for by-products

The European Commission has published its third report towards criteria for using “By-Products” as Component Materials for EU fertilising products (CMC11, additives and CMC-WW) for comment by 16th August 2021, under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009). The 180-page document now proposes detailed criteria for which families of by-product would be eligible, with proposed quality/purity criteria, contaminant limits, process input material exclusions, etc. This was discussed at the EU Fertilisers Expert Group 24-25 June, at which ESPP was represented.

The following summarises ESPP’s understanding of the JRC proposal.

ESPP welcomes positively that phosphogypsum and other mineral processing by-products are included, and that a new route is opened to include nitrogen salts recovered from biogas or manure or animal housing gas treatment. However, this will probably only cover recovery from sanitised manure, unless data can be produced to show the safety (absence of pathogens) in such materials (see below).

The new proposal is significantly narrower than was suggested in March this year (CMC-WW initial proposal, see ESPP eNews n°53). ESPP’s request to widen to “derivates” (see ESPP eNews n°54) has not been taken up, that is the eligible by-products can only be included directly, as such, in an EU fertilising product, that is with no further chemical processing. They cannot be used as a precursor to produce other materials (note that by-products can be used as precursors in CMC1, but not if they have “waste” status).

The new JRC proposal is somewhat complex, with four different routes:

Routes (1) and (2) are subject to the requirements that (a) the material must be a “by-product” as defined under the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC, (b) Animal By-Products, polymers, compost and digestate are excluded, and (c) the material must be REACH registered (with conditions). For routes (1) and (2) a specific list of contaminant limits is defined.

(1) By-products from seven specified industrial processes: methionine, mineral ore processing (this category includes by-product gypsums and phosphogypsums), Solvay process, acetylene production, ferrous slags, specific metal treatments, humic/fulvic acids from drinking water treatment;

(2) (any) by-product used as a “technical additive” at <5% total in the final EU fertilising product.

Routes (3) and (4) are “CMC-WW High Purity Materials”, which was originally proposed in March this year (see ESPP eNews n°54). This proposal has been significantly narrowed and now covers ONLY mineral salts of ammonia, sulphur (inc. elemental sulphur), calcium carbonate or calcium oxide, subject to 95% purity and organic carbon < 0.5%. These mineral salts must also respect a detailed and extensive limits of contaminant limits, and must be REACH registered (with conditions). They can result from:

(3) any “production” process, to which inputs can be any material (chemicals, biomass …), but NOT waste and NOT Animal By-Products

(4) gas purification from (to simplify): hygienised manure, non-hazardous wastes or any other material except Animal By-Products. The list currently includes livestock housing offgas and gas from on-farm, storage of non-hygienised manure, but these are liable to be deleted]

European Commission JRC “Technical proposals for by-products and high purity materials as component materials for EU Fertilising Products. Interim report”, 14 June 2021 https://circabc.europa.eu/ui/group/36ec94c7-575b-44dc-a6e9-4ace02907f2f/library/785d1835-07b3-4b3c-a46a-e269a33c74c7/details

Comments are open to 16th August but can only be submitted via members of the EU Fertilisers Expert Group. Please therefore send all comments to ESPP before 16th July, in order to enable them to be taken into account.

 

 

Slow progress Animal By-Products, progress on other points

At the EU Fertilisers Expert Group, 24-25 June, of which ESPP is a member:

The European Commission DG SANTE summarised slow progress on criteria for using Animal By-Products (ABPs) in EU fertilising products (currently an ‘empty box’ in CMC10 in the Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 = FPR). Work has not yet started on End-Points for ABPs under the FPR, but that the EFSA opinion is expected on some materials in September 2021 (EFSA mandate 2020-0088, see ESPP eNews n°50). It thus seems inevitable that the End-Point criteria will not be adopted by the date of entry into application of the FPR in July 2022. This is the regrettable consequence of the fact that the mandate to EFSA was only transmitted by DG SANTE to EFSA in May 2020, nearly a year after publication of the FPR and more than four years after publication of the proposed regulation which already included the CMC10 ‘empty box’.

The Commission presented development of  the ‘FAQ’ which provides guidance on the FPR. New adjustments clarify on additives, contaminants in CMC materials, waste plant materials (CMC2), definitions of ‘sludge’, blue green algae.

It is confirmed that plant materials with waste status (e.g. garden waste) can be used as input to CMC2 (subject to the processing limits specified) and so achieve End-of-Waste status when integrated into an EU-label fertilising product.

Pyrolysis products and biochars from manure and Animal By-Products: DG SANTE indicated that if companies wish these to be included in the FPR, then they should submit a dossier to EFSA requesting an ABP End-Point. At present, there is no Commission mandate to EFSA to develop an ABP End-Point for pyrolysis, gasification and biochar materials. Until such an ABP End-Point is defined and adopted, biochars from manure or animal by-products will be excluded from EU fertilisers. Companies with data showing pathogen safety of biochars from manure or animal by-products are invited to contact ESPP to develop together a dossier for EFSA.

STRUBIAS criteria moving towards adoption. The European Commission confirmed that the EU Fertilising Products Regulation criteria for precipitated phosphate salts, ash-derived products and biochars/pyrolysis materials (STRUBIAS) are progressing towards Commission adoption, which will be followed by the standard three month ‘objection’ period, before publication, so should be published significantly before entre into application of the Regulation in July 2022.

ESPP letter to the European Commission on “Animal By Product End Points for EU Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS materials”, 16th April 2021 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

STRUBIAS criteria, as published for the public consultation February 2021

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12136-Pyrolysis-and-gasification-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12162-Thermal-oxidation-materials-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12163-Precipitated-phosphate-salts-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

 

Call for data on pathogens / safety of recovered ammonia / sulphur

The principle of inclusion of ammonia or sulphur materials recovered from gas stripping in EU-fertilisers seems now accepted (CMC-WW) but those from manure may be excluded, unless data is available on pathogen levels and safety. Nitrogen and sulphur materials recovered from gas cleaning in anaerobic digesters, sewage works, waste incinerators or other installations look likely to be included in the new CMC-WW of the EU Fertilising Product Regulation (see above). However, recovery from (non-sanitised) manure, manure digestion, livestock stables or other animal by-products will likely be excluded unless data is provided to show absence of pathogens and hygiene safety. It seems probable that the transfer via the gas phase, then acid stripping and concentration in mineral solutions, prevents or eliminates pathogens, but to date very little data has been provided to the Commission. Data will also support an ongoing ESPP request to exonerate such recovered materials from the Animal Feed regulation clause which currently prevents placing them on the market as commodity chemicals. Possibly also, a request to EFSA should be prepared to develop and Animal By-Product End-Point for such recovery processes.

If you have such data, or are willing to cooperate in developing such data (analysis of recovered nitrogen or sulphur materials), please contact ESPP.

 

EU tender for study on fertiliser and mulch polymer biodegradability

The European Commission has opened to 31st August a tender to assess biodegradability criteria for polymers used in fertilisers (coating agents, water retention, wettability) or in mulch films. Value: up to 300 000 €.

Submission deadline 31st August 2021. TED (EU tender website) Services 311603-2021 link.

Policy

 

European Commission takes Member States to court over sewage treatment

Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary and Spain face European Court of Justice action over inadequate collection and treatment of municipal wastewater.

The European Commission has referred France to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failure to adequately treat sewage of more than 100 agglomerations (non-compliance with the 1991 Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271/EEC, which should have been fully implemented by 2005). Fifteen of these French agglomerations also fail to meet additional treatment requirements in eutrophication Sensitive Areas (phosphorus removal).

The Commission is also referring Hungary to the ECJ because 22 agglomerations are not collecting all residents’ sewage, relying instead partly on individual treatment systems (septic tanks), which are considered to not provide adequate treatment.

The Commission has issued a Reasoned Opinion to Belgium for non-compliance of 11 agglomerations: this gives the Member State two months to reply and take necessary measures, or face referral to the (ECJ).

The Commission has issued a Reasoned Opinion to Spain concerning over 300 agglomerations which do not treat sewage adequately, and a further 30 agglomerations where sewage is not collected and treated centrally, instead relying on individual treatment systems.

European Commission “June infringements package: key decisions”, Brussels, 9 June 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/inf_21_2743

“Urban Waste Water: Commission decides to refer FRANCE to the Court of Justice over waste water treatment”, 9 June 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_1546

 

SYSTEMIC policy proposals to open markets for recycled nitrogen

The EU-funded project SYSTEMIC has presented for discussion proposals for EU policies to enable nutrient recovery to economic, in particular by bringing recycled nitrogen fertilisers into the EU Emissions Trading System. SYSTEMIC proposes to open carbon credits for biogas plant operators not only for bio-methane but also, if nitrogen is recovered and recycled, for avoided carbon emissions for production of equivalent mineral nitrogen fertilisers. It is proposed also to open carbon credits for farmers using recycled N fertilisers and for fertiliser companies who include recycled N into their products. These proposals are based on LCA data which suggests a benefit of 3 tCO2-eq per tonne N comparing recycled N fertilisers1 (assumed zero CO2 emissions, as using energy from waste biogas) to mineral fertilisers1. As proposed by SYSTEMIC, however, such carbon credits could penalise farmers who use manure on-farm and benefit large-scale livestock production, in that SYSTEMIC combines the carbon credit proposal with support for the JRC ‘RENURE’ concept which is considered by some as an attempt to facilitate intensive livestock production (see ESPP eNews n°47). It should be ensured that small and extensive farms can be equally rewarded for appropriate manure management. The carbon credit base is not applicable to recycled phosphorus, but could perhaps be transposed into a Nutrient Emissions Trading System with phosphorus credits.

1: EU average CO2-eq. per tonne N, from Hoxha & Christersen, IFS Proceedings 805, 2018

SYSTEMIC is an EU Horizon 2020 project and an ESPP member. SYSTEMIC webinar ““Enabling the Circular Economy: How to encourage a viable agricultural market for nutrients recovered from biowaste”, 13 June 2021. Watch here.

 

Legacy Phosphorus

 

Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’

This journal issue includes 11 papers addressing phosphorus use in fertilisers and in soils. Six of these which include data relevant to discussions of ‘Legacy Phosphorus’ are summarised below. The other papers concern modelling, biostimulant bacteria,  use of paper mill biosolids or sewage sludge. The editorial of this journal (Gatiboni et al.) suggests that the two Zhang et al. studies show that soil “Legacy Phosphorus” can be reduced without deteriorating crop productivity, whereas this is only demonstrated in a situation where initial soil P is higher than recommended, and that cropping with fertilisation can increase legacy P, whereas this is only shown in the scenario of P-fertilising grassland but not harvesting the grass (this could occur for example in grass buffer strips receiving P from runoff/erosion). The editorial also suggests that de Souza Nunes et al. shows that fertiliser application tends to accumulate legacy P: this is also misleading in that this study started with initially “very low” soil P where increasing the soil P was necessary for productive agriculture.

The editorial does not mention several conclusions which can be suggested from the six papers summarised above:

  • If soil P is above agronomic recommended levels, application of P fertiliser will probably not increase yield, but if soil P is low, then P-fertiliser is needed or significantly lower crop yields will result;
  • Soluble mineral P-fertiliser gives better fertiliser results, and leads to less accumulation of P in soil, than (reactive) rock phosphate application;
  • Soil P levels low enough to ensure environmental objectives may be lower than agronomic optimal, and so result in losses of crop productivity.

In correspondence with the editors, it was noted that this discussion contributes to debate, and underlines the conundrum of sustainable production: how to balance maximising yield against protecting the environment. Lower phosphate inputs and reduction of soil P levels, possibly below agronomic optimum levels, may be necessary to achieve environmental objectives, but will reduce productivity, maybe considerably (see eg. McDowell et al. below), with impacts for both food production and farmers’ incomes.

“Legacy Phosphorus in Agriculture: Role of Past Management and Perspectives for the Future”, 143 pagers in total, ed. L. Gatiboni et al., Frontiers in Environmental Science, January 2021, Legacy Phosphorus in Agriculture https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/10116/legacy-phosphorus-in-agriculture-role-of-past-management-and-perspectives-for-the-future#articles

 

Soil P above agronomic recommendations does not increase yield

Zhang et al. report data from 11 years’ field trials comparing P-fertiliser application to zero-P application in Ontario, Canada (Lake Erie catchment). Within the field, randomised plots of 0.1 ha each were given P fertiliser (50 kgP/ha once every two years), plus N+K, or only N+K, in soy /maize rotations, with fertilisers only in the maize years. Surprisingly given the random plot allocation, the soil Olsen P was initially considerably higher in the plots not receiving fertiliser (c. 60 mg/kg Olsen P in the top 15 cm of soil, versus c. 40 in the P-fertilised plots). 30 mg/kg is the agronomic recommended Olsen P level for maize and soybean. The soil Olsen P was nearly the same in the P-fertilised and unfertilised plots after 11 years, at the end of the trials, because it remained approximately constant in the  P-fertilised plots but fell in the unfertilised plots. Crop productivity and crop P-offtake were similar in P-fertilised and unfertilised plots. The authors calculate that in the unfertilised plots net P-removal in crops was around 18 kgP/ha/year, so that in the P-fertilised net P-balance would be around +7 kgP/ha/y. Despite this, soil Olsen P did not measurably increase in these plots over the 11 years.

This study shows that soil Olsen P levels higher than agronomic recommendations do not lead to increased crop productivity. While the study is to continue, it is too early to inform as to whether or not crop productivity will be lost if soil P levels are “drawn down” below agronomic recommended levels.

“An 11-Year Agronomic, Economic, and Phosphorus Loss Potential Evaluation of Legacy Phosphorus Utilization in a Clay Loam Soil of the

Lake Erie Basin”, T. Zhang et al., Front. Earth Sci. 8:115 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00115

 

45 years of P fertilisation does not increase total soil P

Zhang et al. assess data from long-term field trials, Ontario, Canada, comparing different soil P fractions after 45 years of NPK phosphorus fertilisation to no fertilisation (no P, no N, no K), under three different tile-drained cropping systems: harvested maize, harvested oats-alfalfa rotation or permanent (i.e. not annually ploughed), unharvested grass, comparing also to non-cropped, non drained woodland. The fertilised fields received NPK fertiliser with 29 kgP/ha/year. A previous study suggested that c. 1.5 kgP/ha/y is lost in tile drains. The fertiliser application, after 45 years, resulted in no significant increase in total soil P in the two harvested crops (compared to the woodland soil) but an increase in the fertilised, non-harvested grassland (this is not representative of real farm operation where fertilised grass is harvested and removed, resulting in P-offtake). All the cropped fields without fertilisation, including to a lesser extent the grassland, showed significantly lower total soil P after 45 years. Changes in the different solubility fractions of organic and inorganic fractions of P in the soils are assessed, showing that the rate of mineralisation of organic P is increased with cropping + drainage, with or without NPK fertilisation.

“Legacy Phosphorus After 45 Years With Consistent Cropping Systems and Fertilization Compared to Native Soils”, T. Zhang et al., Soils. Front. Earth Sci. 8:183 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00183

 

Focusing only on decreasing soil P will take 26-65 years to reach environmental P targets

McDowell et al. analysed c. 4.5 million data points for Olsen P from two soil sample databases (Eurofins + Hills Labs, ARL) from commercial farms in New Zealand 2001-2015. Nearly half of these were for dairy, a further third for sheep and beef, <25% cropland and some horticulture. Nearly two thirds of samples showed Olsen P higher than agronomic recommendations. Modelling suggested that not applying P fertilisers would result in a fall in Olsen P to agronomic recommended levels in less than one year. This would not however correspond to environmental objectives, and reducing P-losses in drainage and runoff water to 0.02 mgP/l would require soil P levels significantly lower than agronomic recommendations. It would take 26-55 years for soils to reach environmental targets and the cessation of fertiliser inputs would likely result in large losses in agricultural productivity (these losses are not estimated).

“The Ability to Reduce Soil Legacy Phosphorus at a Country Scale”, R. McDowell et al., Front. Environ. Sci. 8:6 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2020.00006

 

Initial soil P level defines maize productivity

Messiga et al. report results of a total of eleven 1-year silage maize field trials at 3 sites in 2018 and 8 in 2019 in BC, Canada, each with six treatments x 4 replicates on 45 m2 plots: five treatments with a total of 35 kg available-P/ha (of which 0 – 20 from TSP [triple super phosphate] and the remainder from liquid dairy manure) and one control (zero P). 35% of manure P was estimated to be “available”. The TSP fertiliser was band applied immediately after seeding the maize whereas the manure was applied at the 6-leaf stage. Additional N was applied as ammonium nitrate at the 6-leaf stage to meet the local recommendation of 150 kg N/ha. Generally, dry matter yield (DMY) at harvest was not higher in the plots with added P (be it as starter fertiliser or as manure at the 6-leaf stage) compared to the zero-P plots (fig. 4). At four sites, DMY did increase with P, showing optimum with low starter fertiliser and most P input from manure. Maize initial growth was improved by the starter fertiliser application, but this did not carry through to harvest. DMY at harvest did however vary strongly with initial soil phosphorus index, from 15 t/ha DMY in sites with low initial soil P (Mehlich-3 60 mgP/kg) to nearly the double (27 t/ha DMY) at sites with high initial soil P (Mehlich-3 200 mgP/kg). The authors note that the soil PSI (Phosphorus Saturation Index, an agro-environmental indicator), a proxy for DPS (Degree of P Saturation), is correlated to DMY, so may be a good indicator for adjusting P application. Overall, the trial results seem to suggest that initial soil P (that is, legacy P) generally influences maize productivity much more than P application in the year.

“Combined Starter Phosphorus and Manure Applications on Silage Corn Yield and Phosphorus Uptake in Southern BC”, A. Messiga et al., Front. Earth Sci. 8:88, https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00088

 

Mineral fertiliser offers better P-balance than phosphate rock

Soltangheisi et al. report results of nine years of field trials (25 m2 plots) in South Brazil, no-till cultivating each year maize and a winter cover crop. 3x6 treatments were trialled: no-P, single super phosphate mineral fertiliser (SSP, 46-59 kgP/ha) or Algerian rock phosphate (148-190 kgP/ha), but in all cases with no-P for the last two years x 5 different winter cover crops or no cover crop (fallow). The soil at the start of the nine years was considered to have low P in the top 0 – 10 cm and very low P at 10 – 20 cm depth, despite commercial no-till cultivation for the years prior to the trials. P-fractions in soil were analysed at 0-5, 5-10 and 10-15 cm depth. Cover crops showed to bring P up from the soil, accumulating organic P on the soil surface. Considerably higher P-efficiency (total over the nine years, as P in harvested grain / P inputs) was shown with SSP  (39 – 55%) compared to rock phosphate (15 – 27%). With SSP, the P-efficiency with some cover crops was higher than fallow (48%), but was similar or lower with others. Total maize grain yield was around one third higher when P fertiliser was applied than with no-P, but was similar between SSP and rock phosphate (as tested, that is with 3 – 4 x more total P input with rock phosphate) and for the different cover crops or fallow.

“Cover Cropping May Alter Legacy Phosphorus Dynamics Under Long-Term Fertilizer Addition”, A. Soltangheisi et al., Front. Environ. Sci. 8:13 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2020.00013 and “Do cover crops change the lability of phosphorus in a clayey subtropical soil under different phosphate fertilizers?”, A. Teles et al., Soil Use and Management, March 2017, 33, 34–44 https://dx.doi.org/0.1111/sum.12327

 

Mineral fertiliser offers better crop yield than phosphate rock

De Souza Nunes et al. report results of seventeen years of field trials in Brazil, 32 m2 plots, with 8 treatments: conventional or no-till x broadcast or furrow fertiliser application x TSP (triple super phosphate) or reactive rock phosphate (both at 35 kgP/ha/y). This reactive rock phosphate had high carbonate content, and so high P availability (44% citric acid solubility of P). Soybean and corn were cultivated. The soil initially had very low P availability and c. 1 mgP-total/kg. Results showed that broadcast fertiliser application resulted in a higher grain yield than furrow fertiliser placement. Under no-till, TSP resulted in grain yield c. 10% higher than with reactive rock phosphate, irrespective of spreading method. Under conventional tillage, TSP gave marginally higher (1-2%) yield than reactive rock phosphate for comparable spreading method. Reactive phosphate rock generally, but not consistently, led to higher accumulation of phosphorus in soil, especially calcium-associated phosphorus and particularly when broadcast.

“Distribution of Soil Phosphorus Fractions as a Function of Long-Term Soil Tillage and Phosphate Fertilization Management”, R. de Souza Front. Earth Sci. 8:350 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00350

 

 

IFA Smart&Green

This online event showcased 26 crop nutrition start-ups and discussed innovation from technology to market for new fertiliser approaches: biostimulants, controlled release, organic fertilisers, nutrient recycling and data solutions. This was IFA’s (International Fertilizer Association) first innovation conference and attracted over 400 registrants (220 online participants for the recycling session).

Chris Thornton, ESPP presented an overview of EU policies driving nutrient recycling and of different routes, from agricultural valorisation of sewage biosolids or processed digestate, through use of wastewater nutrients to feed biomass, to technical recovery of phosphate chemicals from ashes and other waste streams (ESPP slideshare).

Nutrient recycling

Yariv Cohen, EasyMining (RagnSells), presented the Ash2Phos process for recovery of high purity PCP (precipitated calcium phosphate) from sewage sludge incineration ash. Two full scale sites are under permitting: Helsingborg, Sweden and Gelsenwasser, Germany (both 30 000 t-ash/year, that is each around 3.5 million population wastewater), see ESPP eNews n°55. EasyMining’s objective is to be processing 300 000 t-ash/year by 2030.

Joseph Dahan, SGTech, presented their three-stage anaerobic/aerobic digestion system for manures, in which the third biological stage transfers over 60% of the phosphorus into the solid fraction (in particular as polyphosphate). Overall, methane production is increased (+25% compared to standard AD is claimed) and 80% nitrogen removal is achieved (released as N2 not as ammonia because of neutral pH operation). A pilot plant is in operation since 2018 (c. 15 000 t/y of manure from 100 cattle) and several further projects are currently in planning, both using containerised installations for smaller farms (< 200 cattle) and a possible project to treat pig manure.

Thomas Mannheim, Ductor, presented the company’s technology for anaerobic digestion of nitrogen-rich substrates like poultry or fish waste, which uses specifically selected bacteria to convert c. 60% of nitrogen to ammonia in a separate digester, upstream of the main anaerobic digester. All nutrients are converted to fertilisers: ammonia is stripped and recovered as a liquid nitrogen fertiliser, and the digestate from biomethane production is used for the production of organic NPK fertilizers. A first full scale plant (poultry litter) is operating at Juanita, Mexico, since January 2020 (0.25 MW electrical capacity) and a second one starts in June 2021 in Germany (0.5 MW). Further projects are under planning in Poland, the USA and Norway (up to 4 MW). The technology is modular, scalable, can be added to existing biogas plants or in new plants.

Organic fertilisers

Chiara Manoli, ILSA and ECOFI, summarised innovation and R&D in processed organic fertilisers. The EU market is at present around 3 million €/year and growing c. 4%/year. Organic fertilisers offer agronomic benefits including nutrient release rates adapted to plant needs, higher phosphorus uptake, and interactions between nutrients and humic substances which protect nutrients in soil from losses and stimulate soil microbial activity (see SOFIE conference summary in ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°130). Innovation and research is today orientated to enable use of varied organic secondary materials as inputs whilst ensuring traceability, safety and predicable product quality; production technologies to improve quality and nutrient content; customised formulations for specific crops or soils; improving understanding of nutrient mineralisation, impacts on soil microbial activity and agronomic effectiveness; combinations with mineral nutrients (organo-mineral formulations) and information of farmers.

David Lebret, Innovafeed, introduced the agronomic and environmental benefits of insect frass as an organic fertiliser. Innovafeed operates two insect farms in northern France, upcycling wheat by-products to rear black soldier fly larvae, generating proteins and oil for animal nutrition as well as insect frass (a mixture of insect faeces and used substrate) for plant nutrition: Gouzeaucourt (pilot scale, capacity 1.000T/yr protein & 6.000T/yr raw frass ) and Nesle (industrial scale, 15.000T/yr protein & 50.000T/yr processed frass).  Insect frass both supports plant growth (thanks to a combination of N, P and K nutrients, both rapidly and more slowly available) and stimulates soil activity (high concentration in organic matter content and presence of beneficial bacteria and chitin with biostimulation effects). See IPIFF position in ESPP eNews n°40.

Hugh MacGillivray, Anuvia, presented the company’s innovative organo-mineral fertiliser, made by fixing mineral N, S and P to amino acids using inputs such as food waste, manure, agricultural by-products and wastewater residuals. A pilot production plant has now been operating for five years (???? t/y) and a 1.2 million t/y plant is now under construction in partnership with Mosaic. The product offers controlled nutrient release: 70% N in 2-3 weeks and the remaining 30% in the following two months. Over 350 field trials show an average +5% yield compared to mineral fertilisers, and studies suggest also lower nutrient losses, plant nutrition stable over time and lower overall greenhouse emissions (-10%).

Innovation and research

Michael McLaughlin, University of Adelaide, outlined the very wide range of innovations in fertiliser technologies, both for products, in patents and research publication. These include: delivering mineral fertilisers as nanomaterials, layered double hydroxides, graphene-based materials, hydrogels, zeolites, stabilised N fertilisers, sulphur-polymer composites, metal-organic molecules, microbes and biostimulants.

Phil Pardey, University of Minnesota, summarised data since the 1970’s on global agricultural R&D spending. Developed countries have a considerably reduced share of global public spending on agriculture R&D which became particularly pronounced after 2000. Many high-income countries have also reorientated research away from productivity, e.g. towards sustainability. The share of global agricultural R&D spending by low-income countries has also shrunk, but there is substantial growth in Asia and Brazil. Agriculture R&D is increasingly privately funded and performed. Nearly ¾ of total agriculture R&D spending occurs in just 10 countries, with China accounting for over ¼ of the global total.

Biostimulants

Patrick Brown, UC-Davis, suggested that biostimulants all function by helping plants to deal with stress (i.e. increase crop system resilience), for example water stress or nutrient limitations. Environmental stress of crops is ubiquitous, so the potential value of biostimulants is significant. There are however major challenges for R&D, product development and testing, in that biostimulant effect will be related to occurrence of stress, which is unpredictable and often different stresses occur at the same time. Precision agriculture can however improve this targeting.

Manish Raizada, University of Guelph, Canada, showed that microbial biostimulants can have a range of functions, including solubilising minerals in soil such as P, K, Zn, Si so making them plant available, promoting root growth so improving fertiliser uptake, improving yield by promoting growth, combating plant pathogenic microbes. In particular, he presented developments in nitrogen fixing microbes: recent work has shown that repeated rhizobia inoculation through the growing season can increase yields of soy (a legume, which “naturally” has such nitrogen-fixing microbes), and combining rhizobia with other specific bacteria or fungi can also increase yields. There are many nitrogen-fixing rhizobia microbe products on the market.

Luca Bonini, Hello Nature, presented some crop benefits shown for the company’s peptide biostimulant. In spinach, yield was increased +8% (with nitrogen fertiliser) to +33% (no N fertiliser): the peptides are thought to act as signalling molecules, inducing nutrient uptake by the plant. In lettuce, the peptides showed to reduce yield loss caused by salinity: that is, mitigate plant stress. A biostimulant containing micro-organisms and root-stimulating peptides showed to increase both weight yield and sugar contents in melons. He underlined the need for more research and innovation into biostimulants, tailor-made to specific needs, and for field trials with different crops in different conditions, in order to provide appropriate information to farmers.

Andrea Bagnolini, Salvi Vivai (Italy’s leading fruit tree nursery), indicated that there are three types of biostimulants most used on fruit farms: to improve nutrient uptake, without increasing the use of fertilisers and respecting regulation whilst improving yield (this helped Salvi Vivai to grow the Guinness Book of Records biggest cherry in the world in 2020); to improve crop stress resilience; and to ensure uniform size of fruit, which is important for market value.

 

 

Research and science

 

Will atmospheric P deposition significantly impact peat bog carbon storage?

Mid-latitude peatlands are estimated to hold 0.23 Gt of phosphorus (1.7% of global soil P). A study of 23 such bogs worldwide suggests that increased atmospheric P deposition increases decomposition and reduces carbon fixation. From literature, data on P, N and C in ombrotrophic* peatlands at different depths was identified for 23 sites worldwide, with time accumulation data available for 11 of these (using radioactive dating). This data was combined with rates of P, N and C accumulation in the acrotelm** and catotelm** from a bog in Sweden. Atmospheric P deposition is the limiting nutrient for such peat bogs, limiting productivity and nitrogen fixation in the upper layers, but also limiting decomposition in the lower layers. P:N ratio in accumulated organic material in the catotelm (lower layers) is thus significantly lower than that in the acrotelm (upper layers), as P is recycled in the acrotelm. The field data show a strong positive correlation between phosphorus accumulation in the catotelm and decomposition of organic carbon, and a negative correlation between the catotelm P:N ratio and carbon burial. The authors conclude that although increased P input to such peat bogs will increase primary carbon fixation, the overall impact will be a significant reduction in the carbon burial rate, or possibly even net carbon loss. Questions are therefore raised about how much atmospheric P deposition has increased with anthropogenic activity (e.g. burning fossil fuels) compared to natural sources (desert dust, pollen …) – see ESP eNews n°43. The authors note that deposition to peat bogs will vary considerably with local sources depending on nearby soils and vegetation (dust, pollen). Further work is needed to better understand potential carbon impacts of P deposition to peat bogs at local and global scales.

* ombrotrophic (from Greek: cloud fed) = receiving water and nutrients only from rain, not runoff.
** acrotelm = living and catotelm = dead layers of a peat bog, the catotelm generally being the deeper layer or below the water table, where oxygen is not available.

“Phosphorus supply controls the long-term functioning of mid-latitude ombrotrophic peatlands”, EarthArXiv pre-review preprint 2021, D. Schillereff et al., DOI.

 

 

Field trials of animal bone char as fertiliser

Five year field tests were carried out to compare animal bone char, sulphur-modified animal bone char, triple super phosphate (TSP) and control (no P fertilisers), on soils with three different initial levels of phosphorus. The bone char was purchased from Bonechar Carvao Ativado do Brasil https://www.bonechar.com.br/ and is produced by pyrolysis of animal bones at >800°C, resulting in a material with c. 12% carbon and 70 – 75 % hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate) content, marketed since 1987 as an activated charcoal material for applications in the food industry, waste treatment, decontamination. The sulphur-modified animal bone char is treated with reduced sulphur gas compounds, e.g. H2S, according to a 2021 patent application. The field trials were carried out in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany, with a crop rotation of winter barley, winter oilseed rape, winter wheat, lupin and winter rye. In the first year, on P deficient soil, the control (zero P fertiliser) gave 90% yield compared to TSP, bone char 94%, sulphur bone char 95%. Similar significant differences in yield showed in years 3 and 4, and no significant differences between fertiliser treatments in years 2 and 5.

A second paper analyses the changes in soil bacteria related to P turnover in the field trial soils. Effects of fertilisation with animal bone char and sulphur-modified animal bone char were compared (for soils with very low, low and optimal initial P concentrations) to no P fertilisation (control) and to conventional TSP under winter wheat. Sulphur-enriched bone char addition increased the P-solubilisation potential of soil bacteria. Low  soil P concentration and bone char fertilisation favoured P recycling from biomass and bacteria P-uptake systems, indicated by high abundance of bacteria with phoD or pstS genes. Bacterial P turnover was influenced by the sulphur-enriched bone char, by the plant development stage and by the initial P concentration.

“Agronomic evaluation of bone char as phosphorus fertiliser after five years of consecutive application”, K. Panten, P. Leinweber, Journal für Kulturpflanzen, 72 (12). S. 561–576, 2020, ISSN 1867-0911, DOI

“Effects of different innovative bone char based P fertilizers on bacteria catalyzing P turnover in agricultural soils”, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 314 (2021) 107419, DOI.

 

Pyrolysis reduces availability of phosphorus in poultry manure

Granulated poultry manure showed the same P fertiliser efficiency as superphosphate, but was less than half as effective after pyrolysis. N fertiliser efficiency was reduced by more than 90% after pyrolysis. Fertiliser efficiency was tested in five-month pot trials with rye grass in low-P soil, pH 6.5. Poultry manure (bedded with Sphagnum peat) was tested after granulation to 3 – 6 mm (from Biolan), after mixing with feather meal and after pyrolysis at 460°C for 90 minutes. Yield-based fertiliser efficiency was compared to mineral phosphate fertiliser (superphosphate). The granulated poultry manure showed the same P-efficiency as superphosphate (100%) over one growing season, the mixture with feather meal somewhat lower efficiency (75%) and the pyrolysed poultry manure much lower P-efficiency (45%). Soil inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) did not enhance the P-efficiency. In a previous paper, the N fertiliser efficiency of the pyrolysed poultry manure showed (in the same pot trials) to be only 3% that of mineral N fertiliser, compared to 45 – 50% for granulated manure.

“Bioavailability of phosphorus in granulated and pyrolyzed broiler manure”, M. Sarvi et al., Environmental Technology & Innovation 23 (2021) 101584 DOI.  “Granulated broiler manure based organic fertilizers as sources of plant available nitrogen”, R. Keskinen et al., Environmental Technology & Innovation 18 (2020) 100734 DOI.

 

Struvite effective fertiliser with lower P-loss risk

Pot trials with maize and soy conclude that blending 25% - 50% struvite with mineral P fertiliser reduces P-loss risk without restricting early-season growth. Soil pH was 5.6. Struvite (Ostara) was granule size 1.5 – 3 mm and mineral P fertiliser was MAP (mono ammonium phosphate) granule size 3 mm. Maize and soybean biomass was measured after 44-45 days. Maize showed the same biomass production with 25% or 50% struvite compared to 100% MAP. Soy showed the same biomass production with 25% struvite. Results for P-uptake were, however, very different. P-uptake was the same for up to 100% struvite with maize, but was higher with struvite than with MAP for soy . Residual soil Mehlich-3 phosphorus decreased with increasing % of struvite used, suggesting lower risks of P-losses to surface waters.

“Maize and soybean response to phosphorus fertilization with blends of struvite and monoammonium phosphate”, A. Hertzberger et al., Plant Soil 2021 DOI.

 

Global Phosphorus Institute launched

The new institute, GPI, launched by the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco, aims to promote global, science based research and innovation and collaboration on industrial phosphorus use and nutrient stewardship. It will be led by Amit Roy, previously with IFDC and Global Traps, and has an Advisory Board chaired by the President of the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and including representatives of the Morocco Ministry of Agriculture, the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance, industry experts and scientists. The GPI aims to bring together leading scientists, industry, policy makers and stakeholders, to develop inclusive dialogue and collaboration, and to create and share innovative solutions to balance the need and use of phosphorus in the production of health food, animal feed and natural fibres, in the spirit of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. www.tgpi.org

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter          eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/            Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 2 2021

 

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments: Sources, Sinks and Subsequent Fluxes to The Atmosphere. Within the 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting (online, 22-27 June 2021). In partnership with the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and ASLO, ESPP and SPA will follow-up with a webinar to exchange between science, water stakeholders and policy makers on implications of aquatic methane emissions for nutrient management. Proposals for input are welcome.

ASLO special session on methane in oxic aquatic environments: https://www.aslo.org/2021-virtual-meeting/session-list/

Contact Mina Bizic 

To contribute to the ESPP- SPA- IGB webinar: contact 

7th July 2021, 10h30 - 16h30 CEST. Online conference will look at current status and future developments in phosphorus removal from wastewater, P-stewardship and P-recovery. Speakers include the UK Environment Agency, Isle Utilities, The Rivers Trust, several UK water companies, ESPP.

https://event.wwtonline.co.uk/phosphorus/

The European Commission has published its Zero Pollution Action Plan, part of the Green Deal, including proposed actions on nutrient loss reduction, nutrient recycling, sewage reuse, ammonia emissions as well as putting a price to pollution, actioning the polluter-pays principle and incentives for alternatives. The Plan is presented as a ”compass for including pollution prevention in all relevant EU policies”. The Zero Pollution Hierarchy is emphasised: 1) prevent pollution by clean-by-design production and the circular economy, 2) minimise releases and exposure, 3) eliminate and remediate. An emphasis is placed on stricter implementation and enforcement.

The Zero Pollution Targets for 2030 include reducing nutrient losses by 50% (specifying as compared to 2012-2015), as already set in both the Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategies (see SCOPE Newsletter n°131).

The Plan states that this will be achieved by “implementing and enforcing the relevant environmental and climate legislation in full, identifying with Member States the nutrient load reductions needed to achieve these goals, applying balanced fertilisation and sustainable nutrient management, stimulating the markets for recovered nutrients and by managing nitrogen and phosphorus better throughout their lifecycle”. It will be promoted by the Mission ‘ Soil Health and Food’, and the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP AGRI). The Mission ‘Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters’ will also address nutrients.

In order to make livestock farming more sustainable, the Commission will “facilitate the placing on the market of alternative feed materials and innovative feed additives”.

The need to further reduce ammonia emissions will be assessed, in particular from intensive livestock, possibly by actions under the Common Agricultural Policy or by “making manure handling blinding

The already engaged reviews of the Urban Waste Water Treatment and Sewage Sludge Directives will “increase the ambition level to remove nutrients from wastewater and make treated water and sludge ready for reuse, supporting more circular, less polluting farming. It will also address emerging pollutants such as microplastics and micropollutants, including pharmaceuticals”.

The announced Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (consultation expected later in 2021 see www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory) will maximise synergies between policies and use “the green architecture of the new common agricultural policy, especially via conditionality and eco-schemes”.

The annexed list of actions includes, for 2023, to “Compile and make accessible in a digital format all main obligations on nutrient management stemming from EU law to limit the environmental footprint of farming activities”.

European Commission “Pathway to a Healthy Planet for All. EU Action Plan: 'Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil”, SWD(2021)140 - SWD(2021)141, 12th May 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/zero-pollution-action-plan_fr

Methane emissions are estimated to represent c. 20% of greenhouse impact of fossil fuels and ¾ of climate change impact of lakes and reservoirs, and are increased by eutrophication (see SCOPE Newsletter n°137). Increasing eutrophication globally could increase lake and reservoir methane emissions to 38 – 58 % of current fossil fuel greenhouse impact by 2100. Societal costs of lake and reservoir methane emissions are estimated at 7 – 80 trillion US$ (total for the years 2015 – 2050), using US Government Interagency Working Group methodology. This does not include methane emissions from rivers, coastal waters and oceans, nor does it include other aquatic greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, N2O). The methodology was applied to Lake Erie, North America, to compare estimated societal costs of eutrophication impacts on leisure fishing or on beach closures (due to harmful algae blooms). The conclusion is that societal costs of eutrophication-driven methane emissions are an order of magnitude higher than either of these local societal costs, and also higher than the estimated cost of reducing nutrient inputs to the lake by 40% by changing agricultural practices. The study notes that are not here considered other local societal costs of eutrophication, in particular loss to property value and possible health risks from toxic algae blooms, but that the climate costs of methane emissions are nonetheless a very significant societal cost of eutrophication.

“Protecting local water quality has global benefits”, J. Downing et al., Nature Communications (2021), 12:2709, DOI.

NOTE: ASLO Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments, part of the ASLO 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting 22-27 June 2021 online - Website

The European Commission has published its third report towards criteria for using “By-Products” as Component Materials for EU fertilising products (CMC11, additives and CMC-WWfor comment by 16th August 2021, under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/100). The 180-page document now proposes detailed criteria for which families of by-product would be eligible, with proposed quality/purity criteria, contaminant limits, process input material exclusions, etc. This will be discussed at the EU Fertilisers Expert Group 24-25 June, at which ESPP is represented.

The following summarises ESPP’s understanding of the JRC proposal after a first reading – it may not be correct. We will try to verify whether our understanding is correct and publish an updated summary and proposed comments and input in coming weeks.

The new proposal is significantly narrower than was suggested in March this year (CMC-WW initial proposal, see ESPP eNews n°53). ESPP’s request to widen to “derivates” (see ESPP eNews n°54), that is the eligible by-products can only be included in an EU fertilising product with no further chemical processing, they cannot be used as a precursor to produce other materials (note that by-products can be used as precursors in CMC1, but not if they have “waste” status).

The new JRC proposal is somewhat complex, with four different routes:

Routes (1) and (2) are subject to the requirements that (a) the material must be a “by-product” as defined under the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC, (b) Animal By-Products, polymers, compost and digestate are excluded, and (c) the material must be REACH registered (with conditions). For routes (1) and (2) a specific list of contaminant limits is defined.

(1) By-products from seven specified industrial processes: methionine, mineral ore processing (this category includes by-product gypsums and phosphogypsums), Solvay process, acetylene production, ferrous slags, specific metal treatments, humic/fulvic acids from drinking water treatment;

(2) (any) by-product used as a “technical additive” at <5% total in the final EU fertilising product.

Routes (3) and (4) are “CMC-WW High Purity Materials”, which was originally proposed in March this year (see ESPP eNews n°54). This proposal has been significantly narrowed and now covers ONLY mineral salts of ammonia, sulphur (inc. elemental sulphur), calcium carbonate or calcium oxide, subject to 95% purity and organic carbon < 0.5%. These mineral salts must also respect a detailed and extensive limits of contaminant limits, and must be REACH registered (with conditions). They can result from:

(3) any “production” process, to which inputs can be any material (chemicals, biomass, waste …) other than Animal By-Products

(4) gas purification from (to simplify): hygienised manure, livestock housing, storage of non-hygienised manure, non-hazardous wastes or any other material except Animal By-Products

European Commission JRC “Technical proposals for by-products and high purity materials as component materials for EU Fertilising Products. Interim report”, 14 June 2021 https://circabc.europa.eu/ui/group/36ec94c7-575b-44dc-a6e9-4ace02907f2f/library/785d1835-07b3-4b3c-a46a-e269a33c74c7/details

Comments are open to 16th August but can only be submitted via members of the EU Fertilisers Expert Group. Please therefore send all comments to ESPP  before 16th July, in order to enable them to be taken into account.

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews055
Download as PDF

Events
Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021
Future of Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater 2021

Policy
EU Zero Pollution Action Plan published
Amended EU Standards Mandate for fertilising products
EU sewage and sludge Directives update process
EU consultation on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWT)
EU consultation on Algae Sector
EU policies could reduce phosphorus losses by 20%

Industry and technology
Ragn-Sells and Kemira join forces in phosphorus recycling from sewage sludge
Nitrate and other nutrient recycling from drinking water to fertigation

Research
“Legacy P” and field slope
Poland: climate change will impede water quality objectives
UNESCO report on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)
Aquatic methane emissions cost society 0.2 – 2.3 trillion US$/year globally
Economic policy instruments for P sustainability
English Channel: Atmospheric P deposition not biologically significant
Biochar improves soil P availability but only in some soils

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Events 

Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments: Sources, Sinks and Subsequent Fluxes to The Atmosphere. Within the 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting (online, 22-27 June 2021). In partnership with the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and ASLO, ESPP and SPA will follow-up with a webinar to exchange between science, water stakeholders and policy makers on implications of aquatic methane emissions for nutrient management. Proposals for input are welcome.

ASLO special session on methane in oxic aquatic environments: https://www.aslo.org/2021-virtual-meeting/session-list/

Contact Mina Bizic

To contribute to the ESPP- SPA- IGB webinar: contact

 

Future of Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater 2021

7th July 2021, 10h30 - 16h30 CEST. Online conference will look at current status and future developments in phosphorus removal from wastewater, P-stewardship and P-recovery. Speakers include the UK Environment Agency, Isle Utilities, The Rivers Trust, several UK water companies, ESPP.

https://event.wwtonline.co.uk/phosphorus/

 

Policy

 

EU Zero Pollution Action Plan published

The European Commission has published its Zero Pollution Action Plan, part of the Green Deal, including proposed actions on nutrient loss reduction, nutrient recycling, sewage reuse, ammonia emissions as well as putting a price to pollution, actioning the polluter-pays principle and incentives for alternatives. The Plan is presented as a ”compass for including pollution prevention in all relevant EU policies”. The Zero Pollution Hierarchy is emphasised: 1) prevent pollution by clean-by-design production and the circular economy, 2) minimise releases and exposure, 3) eliminate and remediate. An emphasis is placed on stricter implementation and enforcement.

The Zero Pollution Targets for 2030 include reducing nutrient losses by 50% (specifying as compared to 2012-2015), as already set in both the Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategies (see SCOPE Newsletter n°131).

The Plan states that this will be achieved by “implementing and enforcing the relevant environmental and climate legislation in full, identifying with Member States the nutrient load reductions needed to achieve these goals, applying balanced fertilisation and sustainable nutrient management, stimulating the markets for recovered nutrients and by managing nitrogen and phosphorus better throughout their lifecycle”. It will be promoted by the Mission ‘ Soil Health and Food’, and the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP AGRI). The Mission ‘Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters’ will also address nutrients.

In order to make livestock farming more sustainable, the Commission will “facilitate the placing on the market of alternative feed materials and innovative feed additives”.

The need to further reduce ammonia emissions will be assessed, in particular from intensive livestock, possibly by actions under the Common Agricultural Policy or by “making manure handling blinding

The already engaged reviews of the Urban Waste Water Treatment and Sewage Sludge Directives will “increase the ambition level to remove nutrients from wastewater and make treated water and sludge ready for reuse, supporting more circular, less polluting farming. It will also address emerging pollutants such as microplastics and micropollutants, including pharmaceuticals”.

The announced Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (consultation expected later in 2021 see www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory) will maximise synergies between policies and use “the green architecture of the new common agricultural policy, especially via conditionality and eco-schemes”.

The annexed list of actions includes, for 2023, to “Compile and make accessible in a digital format all main obligations on nutrient management stemming from EU law to limit the environmental footprint of farming activities”.

European Commission “Pathway to a Healthy Planet for All. EU Action Plan: 'Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil”, SWD(2021)140 - SWD(2021)141, 12th May 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/strategy/zero-pollution-action-plan_fr

 

Amended EU Standards Mandate for fertilising products

Proposed amendments to the mandate to CEN for standards to support the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation include different standards to determine P solubility in inorganic fertilisers, and composition and contaminants in STRUBIAS materials. Standards to assess total P2O5 content, water soluble, NAC, formic acid and citrate soluble P2O5+ are requested for inorganic, organic and organo-mineral fertilisers. Standards to assess dry matter and contents of organic carbon, P2O5, iron, aluminium and several contaminants and pathogens are requested for Precipitated Phosphate Salts or their Derivates, standards for various contaminants (inc. PAH16, PCDD/F-equiv are requested for ashes/ash derived products and for biochars, as well as H/C-org for biochars.

Document for consultation https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/45687 (Draft amendment to Commission Implementing Decision C(2020) 612 final of 10.2.2020 on a standardisation request to the European Committee for Standardisation as regards the EU fertilising products in support of Regulation (EU) 2019/1009). Comments by 16/6/2021 to

 

EU sewage and sludge Directives update process

A European Commission stakeholder workshop emphasised the need to address contaminants in sewage sludge (especially pharmaceuticals, microplastics, heavy metals and PFAS/PFOS) and showed support for regulatory mechanisms to support phosphorus recycling (blending obligation or % recycling requirement). The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) was evaluated in 2018, concluding “fit for purpose” but possibilities for improvements. The Sewage Sludge Directive (SSD) is currently undergoing evaluation. DG ENVI highlighted that the SSD is part of the Green Deal agenda, with objectives of climate neutrality, zero pollution and circular economy, and is cited in the EU Methane Strategy. A 2014 evaluation of the SSD concluded that it is “fit for purpose”. An aim of the current evaluation is to strengthen regulation of pollutants in sewage sludge. Two EU JRC projects were presented: modelling impacts of micropollutants in sewage sludge, assessing climate emissions impacts of UWWTD and SSD policies. Studies presented suggested that micropollutants present in sewage sludge may not pose adverse risk to soil, but that long term sludge use in agriculture led to levels of PFAS which could impact earthworms. The lack of information on microplastics was noted. The importance of source control, reducing or preventing input of contaminants into sewage where possible, was emphasised. Phosphorus and nitrogen recovery from sewage were discussed, with much stakeholder support expressed for phosphorus recycling policies such as a blending obligation (including a certain level of recycled P in fertilisers) or a % P-recycling requirement.

Trinomics, for European Commission DG Environment “Evaluation of the Sewage Sludge Directive 86/278/EEC” http://trinomics.eu/project/6515-sewage-sludge-directive-86-278-eec/

 

EU consultation on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWT)

Open to 21 July 2021. This is a general public questionnaire, plus additional questions for experts and operators – you do not have to answer all questions. Questions ask what should be priorities for action (nutrients are one of seven proposed priorities), how to improve protection of nutrient “Sensitive Areas”, addressing micropollutants, circularity (proposals include recovery obligations for phosphorus and other materials).

“Water pollution – EU rules on urban wastewater treatment”, EU public consultation open to 21 July 2021.

EU consultation on Algae Sector

Open to 11 August 2021. Environmental footprint of algae and environmental benefits of algae products are addressed, as are impact on CO2, nutrients capture and bioremediation. The use of algae for waste treatment (e.g. nutrient removal from wastewater, CO2 or NOx abatement), and regulatory questions around such waste-fed algae (e.g. End-of-Waste) are not addressed, but can be added in the comments boxes.

“Public consultation on the EU Algae initiative”, EU public consultation open 11 August  2021.

 

EU policies could reduce phosphorus losses by 20%

A modelling study concludes that ambitious but technically feasible policy actions on municipal waste water treatment and on agricultural fertilisation could reduce total EU nitrogen and phosphorus losses to surface waters by -14% and -20% respectively. The study was led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. This ambitious but technically feasible scenario (MTFR = High Technically Feasible Reduction) considers that all municipal sewage works are upgraded to the highest nutrient removal level (tertiary treatment with “enhanced” phosphorus removal) and agricultural fertilisation is set to limit nitrogen surplus to 10% of N in output, and P is reduced correspondingly. The study concludes that this would “only slightly” increase proportion of surface waters in good ecological status (as defined by the Water Framework Directive). The study notes that the resulting differential reductions in N and P losses could worsen nutrient unbalances in coastal waters. ESPP considers that the study shows that technically feasible actions on sewage treatment and agricultural fertilisation can significantly reduce nutrient losses, but that this reduction is much less than the -50% nutrient loss reduction target fixed by the EU Farm-to-Fork strategy (see SCOPE Newsletter n°139) and that a combination of other measures not assessed in this study will be needed for higher nutrient loss reductions and to achieve Water Framework Directive ecological quality objectives, for example: phosphorus traps and buffer strips in fields, morphological restauration of rivers, recreation of wetlands, treatment of discharges from small settlements and isolated households, treatment of stormwaters …

“How EU policies could reduce nutrient pollution in European inland and coastal waters?”, B. Grizzetti et al., Global Environmental Change

Volume 69, July 2021, 102281 DOI.

 

Industry and technology

 

Ragn-Sells and Kemira join forces in phosphorus recycling from sewage sludge

Kemira and Ragn-Sells’ daughter company EasyMining (both ESPP members) have announced a collaboration to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge at Kemira’s industrial site in Helsingborg. This means that EasyMining takes the next step and continues with the plans to build a plant for phosphorus recycling from 30,000 t/y of sewage sludge incineration ash to be operational in 2025. The patented Ash2Phos technology from EasyMining attacks the ash with hydrochloric acid, then uses purification processes to separate out a high-grade calcium phosphate which can technically be used in fertiliser production, animal feed (see ESPP eNews n°52), or the chemicals industry, recovering more than 90% of the phosphorus contained in the ash. The process can also recover iron and aluminium present in the ash separately for e.g. recycling by Kemira as a coagulant for chemical P-removal in sewage works. The new plant will create 30 jobs within Kemira’s Helsingborg industrial park, South West Sweden. Sewage sludge ash is expected to come from Sweden but also to be imported via the site’s maritime access. The project has been granted 5 M€ from Sweden’s climate fund (Klimatklivet).

“Ragn-Sells and Kemira jointly engage in phosphorus recycling from sewage sludge” - Kemira and Ragn-Sells Newsroom

 

Nitrate and other nutrient recycling from drinking water to fertigation

Agua DB has demonstrated a process to recover nitrate from drinking water nitrate removal, and recycle with K, S, Ca and Mg to local agriculture via fertigation. Ion-exchange is today widely used to remove nitrates from drinking water, but uses salt for regeneration. This generates a phytotoxic sodium nitrate brine, which has to be disposed, often via expensive truck transport. The Agua DB process uses water quality potash (KCl) for regeneration, instead of salt, in significantly lower quantities, so generating liquors rich in sulphate, nitrate and potassium, which can be used for fertigation in local agriculture. These can partially replace synthetic fertilisers and reduce use of potash by farmers, so reducing salination (Cl input) to farmland. A three months pilot project with Affinity Water (a UK drinking water company supplying 3.6 million people), showed effective nitrate removal down to 5 mgN/l.  Red Russian Kale was grown hydroponically with the fertigation liquor providing 60% of the required nutrients, showing performance comparable to synthetic nutrients and good nutrient density in the crop. Fertigation and application of N to soil as nitrate is suggested to have agronomic benefits including improved yields with reduced fertiliser application and run-off, more efficient use of water and the potential to link irrigation water storage schemes into flood mitigation measures. The technology could also be adapted for tertiary N-removal from sewage works and can be used in industry or desalination plants.

See presentation by Mike Waite at the AquaEnviro conference “The Art of the Possible: Resource Recovery from Wastewater and Bioresources”, May 18th 2021 and presentation here from 38 minutes.

Research

 

 

“Legacy P” and field slope

A study of an 8 ha field in SW Ontario, Canada, under maize – soy – alfalfa rotation shows that phosphorus accumulates over time in the lower parts of the field (“toe-slope” and “foot”). Soil was sampled once, in October (after harvest) at 50 sites, 10 in each of the slope classification areas (toe, foot, back, shoulder, summit). Toe and foot zones made up nearly 60% of the field area. Elevation of the field varied by about 4 m between the lowest point and the highest summit with slopes up to 15%. Results show topsoil thickness 40 -  50 % greater in foot and toe zones than in back, shoulder and summit, and mean organic carbon stock also 30 – 80 % higher. Soil Olsen-P stock showed even more pronounced accumulation in the lower parts of the field, at around 50 kg-OlsenP/ha in toe and foot zones, compared to around 20 kg/ha in summit zones. The authors conclude that soil erosion over time moves legacy P to the lower zones of the field, along with top soil, smaller soil particles and organic carbon. The study does not provide any indication as to how this local accumulation of P within the field might impact P losses to surface water.

“Spatial decoupling of legacy phosphorus in cropland: Soil erosion and deposition as a mechanism for storage”, A. VandenBygaart et al., Soil & Tillage Research 211 (2021) 105050 DOI.

 

 

Poland: climate change will impede water quality objectives

A study of 18 surface water bodies in Upper Sileasia, Southern Poland, climate change will both increase nutrient losses from soils and accentuate the impact on water quality of P and N loads because of longer low-flow periods. Upper Silesia is an urbanised (4 million population) and industrialised region, with many coal mines pumping mine water into rivers. Nutrient removal is already largely installed in sewage works, and mine discharge water is expected to be reduced in the future, which will result is less dilution of nutrients. Nutrient loss from farmland was estimated as 20% of P and 50% of N in manure (based on livestock numbers) and 20% of and 88% of N applied in mineral fertilisers. Estimates of current nutrient load to the water bodies suggest that reductions of up to 90% for both P and N are needed to achieve water quality objectives, with most P and N inputs coming from agriculture in the majority of the catchments. The authors conclude that climate change will worsen nutrient-related water quality problems, by increasing agricultural losses because of extreme precipitation events and longer low-flow periods (reduced dilution). The level of nutrient removal in sewage works will not be significantly further improved, so that other measures will be necessary, targeting agriculture, treatment of fish pond discharge, landscaping and water management (which could include use of mine water to increase flows during low-flow periods).

“Impacts of nitrogen and phosphorus loads from various sources on the quality of surface water bodies in the context of climate change – case study in Poland”, A. Hamerla & B. Konczak, APP Ecology and Env Res 19(2) 1033-1048, 2021 DOI

 

 

UNESCO report on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)

A first-ever UN report shows that nearly 10 000 ocean Harmful Algal Blooms were recorded worldwide over 33 years, and that impacts are increasing with rising seafood demand and coastal development. 109 scientists from 35 countries analysed over 9 500 HAB events including 7 million microalgae data points, of which nearly 290 000 toxic algae species occurrences, using the Harmful Algal Event Database (HAEDAT). The widely suggested idea that blooms are increasing with climate change is not confirmed, with blooms increasing in some areas of the world and decreasing or steady in others. Increases in reported HAB events are correlated to increased monitoring and increases in perception are probably related to increased aquacultural production and coastal development. Both Europe and the Mediterranean regions show an increase trend in reported HAB events over the study period (from 1985 to 2018), but possibly with an apparent peak around the year 2000 and after that a decrease in HAB events in the Mediterranean region and fluctuations without a clear increase in Europe (see Hallegraeff et al. Fig. 3 p. 5). A large proportion of the societal impact of blooms was resulting closure of shellfish harvesting, with only rare cases of human poisoning. Economic losses caused by HABs to aquaculture are considerable, whereas in the open ocean wild fish can simply swim away from HABs. The number of recorded HABs over time was strongly correlated with intensification of aquaculture, but this is probably largely due to more intense monitoring. Data on nutrient pollution is considered inadequate to reach conclusions as what extent aquaculture contributes to causing HABs.

Report published by UNESCO (United Nations) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms (IOC-IPHAB, part of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission), 8 June 2021 http://hab.ioc-unesco.org/index.php

Harmful Agal Bloom Information Portal: https://data.hais.ioc-unesco.org/

“Perceived global increase in algal blooms is attributable to intensified monitoring and emerging bloom impacts”, G. Hallegraeff et al., Nature Communications Earth & Environment (2021) 2:117 https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-021-00178-8

 

 

Aquatic methane emissions cost society 0.2 – 2.3 trillion US$/year globally

Methane emissions are estimated to represent c. 20% of greenhouse impact of fossil fuels and ¾ of climate change impact of lakes and reservoirs, and are increased by eutrophication (see SCOPE Newsletter n°137). Increasing eutrophication globally could increase lake and reservoir methane emissions to 38 – 58 % of current fossil fuel greenhouse impact by 2100. Societal costs of lake and reservoir methane emissions are estimated at 7 – 80 trillion US$ (total for the years 2015 – 2050), using US Government Interagency Working Group methodology. This does not include methane emissions from rivers, coastal waters and oceans, nor does it include other aquatic greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, N2O). The methodology was applied to Lake Erie, North America, to compare estimated societal costs of eutrophication impacts on leisure fishing or on beach closures (due to harmful algae blooms). The conclusion is that societal costs of eutrophication-driven methane emissions are an order of magnitude higher than either of these local societal costs, and also higher than the estimated cost of reducing nutrient inputs to the lake by 40% by changing agricultural practices. The study notes that are not here considered other local societal costs of eutrophication, in particular loss to property value and possible health risks from toxic algae blooms, but that the climate costs of methane emissions are nonetheless a very significant societal cost of eutrophication.

“Protecting local water quality has global benefits”, J. Downing et al., Nature Communications (2021), 12:2709, DOI.

NOTE: ASLO Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments, part of the ASLO 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting 22-27 June 2021 online - Website 

 

Economic policy instruments for P sustainability

A research paper suggests that fossil fuel and livestock cap-and-trade tools, combined with a livestock / land area ratio cap, would largely ensure sustainable phosphorus use. It is suggested that resulting energy price increases would reduce P fertiliser use, despite recognising that P-fertiliser production can have negative energy consumption, because of energy used to transport and spread fertilisers. It is not however considered that transport and application of organic and recycled fertilisers may use more energy (higher bulk, decentralised logistics). Cap-and-trade of livestock products would increase price and reduce consumption, so reducing need for P-fertiliser to produce animal feeds, including imported animal feed crops. These two tools would not however address regional livestock concentration, which results in regional nutrient excesses, and geographical distribution obstacles to recycling of manure nutrients. Limiting livestock numbers per land area would avoid regional livestock concentrations and could also be used to limit total national or EU livestock production. The paper also considers limiting total P-fertiliser consumption, e.g. by a certificate trading system for mineral P fertilisers placed on the EU market.

“Economic policy instruments for sustainable phosphorus management: taking into account climate and biodiversity targets”, B. Garske & F. Ekardt, Environ Sci Eur (2021) 33-56 DOI.

 

English Channel: Atmospheric P deposition not biologically significant

A study at a site on in the UK concludes that atmospheric phosphorus deposition to coastal water in the region is “unlikely to be biologically significant”. Aerosol-derived P deposition at the study site, on Cornwall coast, South UK, between the North Atlantic and the English Channel, was estimated at 0.16 – 1.6 µ-moles-P/m2/day, estimated to be consistently below 0.1% of water P standing stock. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition, on the other hand, was estimated to be significant, at 3 – 620 µ-moles-N/m2/day, contributing up to 20% of water DIN (dissolved inorganic nitrogen) in Spring, when water DIN levels are depleted by biological uptake. The atmospheric nitrogen input is estimated to contribute to up to 22% of primary algal growth at times in Spring. The study is based on aerosol samples collected at Penlee Point Atmospheric Observatory over six months, February to July 2015, corresponding to spring algal growth.

“Inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus in Western European aerosol and the significance of dry deposition flux into stratified shelf waters”, C. White et al., Atmospheric Environment, in print 2021, DOI.

 

Biochar improves soil P availability but only in some soils

A meta-analysis of published data suggests that biochar application improves soil P availability and on plant P uptake respectively +65% and +55% on average. This is not input of P in the biochar but an impact of the biochar on the soil – crop system. The study identified 516 data pairs (from 86 studies) comparing soil P availability or crop P uptake with or without biochar application. P availability data was mostly from laboratory soil incubation tests (175 data points) and pot trials (157) with also 106 field trials, whereas crop P uptake data was mostly from field trials (80) versus 72 pot trials. The most frequently tested biochars were from crop residue and wood (total 321 P availability data points), that is biochars which would contain relatively low levels of phosphorus, versus 98 for manure biochar and only 7 for sewage sludge biochar. The mean effects of biochar on soil P availability and on plant P uptake were respectively +65% and +55%, that is higher than biochar effects on N or C reported elsewhere from biochar application. However, the data suggested that biochar showed considerably greater effects on P availability and uptake in very low phosphorus soils, acid soils (pH < 5) and in heavy textured soils. Also, effects were greater for biochars pyrolysed below 300°C. ESPP note: this temperature limit poses questions in that other studies suggest that temperatures >400°C may be necessary to remove organic pollutants and antibiotic resistance genes in pyrolysis (see ESPP eNews n°s 52 and 54)

“Could biochar amendment be a tool to improve soil availability and plant uptake of phosphorus? A meta-analysis of published experiments”, F. Tesfaye et al., Environmental Science and Pollution Research 2021 DOI

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter          eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/            Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 1 2021

 

Murphy Ireland and Ostara have announced construction of a new Ostara Pearl® struvite recovery installation, with WASSTRIP®, as part of the upgrade of Irish Water’s Ringsend waste water treatment plant to 2.4 million p.e. capacity and conversion to biological phosphorus removal. Struvite production should start in 2023. Ringsend treats around 40% of Ireland’s wastewater and discharges into the nutrient Sensitive Area, Lower Liffey Estuary and Dublin Bay.

“Ostara and Murphy Partner to deliver part of Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Project for Irish Water”, 28th April 2021 press release.

Two significant projects to “mine” phosphate from secondary resources in Sweden were presented at the Nordic Circular Materials Conference: 21-22 April 2021. In both cases, the projects will extract phosphate from apatite minerals (phosphate rock family) present in tailings of from iron ore mining, either from operating iron production sites or from stocked tailings from closed mines. The apatite is mainly rare earth element substituted fluorapatite, e.g. monazite, low in cadmium and arsenic, and the extraction of the rare earths with the phosphate will enable economic viability.

Ulrika Håkansson, LKAB, presented the company’s project treating ore tailings from iron mines in Kiruna and Malmberget. LKAB’s objective is to be operational by 2027, producing c. 50 000 tP/year (five times Sweden’s mineral P fertiliser consumption), as apatite concentrate, and c. 30% of EU rare earth needs.

Christer Lindqvist presented the Grängesberg Apatite Recovery Project, which aims to recover apatite from stocked tailings of the Grangesberg iron mine (John Matts dam), which was the world’s biggest iron ore producer in the nineteenth century. The following rare earth elements will be produced: Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Tb, Eu. Production will be around 13 000 tP/y, with the aim of starting within 3-4 years. The stocked tailings will support around seven years production, and this may be extended with a project to re-open the iron ore mine

Slides
 from Nordic Circular Materials Conference
LKAB secondary P-mining project: www.ree-map.com
Grängesberg Exploration Holding AB https://grangesbergexploration.se/

A review of around 100 scientific publications concludes that eutrophication significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions from freshwaters (CO2, methane, N2O). An increase of 5 µg/l of chlorophyll-a in lakes and reservoirs worldwide would result in an increase of GHG emissions equivalent to >6% of fossil fuel CO2.

The current GHG emissions from freshwaters worldwide are estimated to be equivalent to >30% of global fossil fuel CO2 emissions (56% from freshwater CO2 release, 40% from methane, 4% from N2O).

Eutrophic shallow lakes are estimated to emit nearly 50% more methane than comparable non-eutrophic lakes. Eutrophication increases organic matter production in fresh waters, but it is unclear whether the resulting net CO2 uptake will compensate for increased methane production, because the organic matter produced is readily degradable. Increased nitrogen loading to surface waters can cause them to shift from being N2O sinks to net N2O emitters. Eutrophication also increases freshwater GHG emissions indirectly, for example, by shifting from vegetation dominated by macrophytes to algae, whereas macrophyte roots tend to reduce methane production by moving oxygen to sediments. Also, cyanobacteria readily produce methane even in the oxic water zone, both at day and at night.

The review also shows that climate change is expected to significantly increase freshwater GHG emissions and eutrophication (see also ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°137 on climate change and eutrophication), with positive feedback loops. Increasing temperatures will increase release of nutrients from sediments (accelerated mineralisation), as will extreme climate events (remobilisation of sediments). Both will also lead to increased nutrient losses from land to freshwaters. Increased temperatures may also favour methane production in freshwaters, rather than methane consumption.

This review confirms that policy makers need to further reduce nutrient inputs to surface waters, both because climate change will increase eutrophication risks, and because freshwater eutrophication contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

“The role of freshwater eutrophication in greenhouse gas emissions: A review”, Y. Li et al., Science of the Total Environment 768 (2021) 144582 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144582

Some 280 participants took part in the EBA – ECN webinar on 28th April.

David Wilken, German Biogas Association, presented conclusions of the EBA – ECN European survey on perspectives for CE-marking of compost and biogas under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), when it enters into implementation in July 2022. The survey received over 100 answers from 21 countries. A large majority of respondents considered that the future CE-mark will be relevant for composts and digestates, in particular as a route to obtaining End-of-Waste status and better marketability, although many do not expect it to bring higher sales revenue and most expect it to involve significant administrative burdens and costs (in particular for conformity assessment). Most respondents consider that digestate will need some process of upgrading to achieve FPR criteria (CMC5), e.g. composting of digestate, drying, liquid/solid separation. Manure is seen as a very relevant input material, as well as sewage sludge (which is however excluded from EU FPR composts and digestates), as well as a wide range of other materials.

Theodora Nikolakopoulou, DG GROW, addressed a range of questions concerning application of the FPR to composts and digestates : manures and animal-by products as inputs – do they have to be pasteurised upstream of composting/digestion?; multiplication of conformity assessments if one compost producer supplies several fertiliser producers; definition of “sludge”; additives used upstream of the digestion process (e.g. flocculation agents) – must be declared as a distinct CMC; demonstrating conformity to PAH limits – does not necessarily mean testing …

Digestate valorisation under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, webinar, 28 April 2021 here. Links to slides and conference report.

Open to 21 July 2021. The consultation document notes that the 2019 evaluation of the 1991 UWWTD concluded that it is largely fit for purpose, but some aspects need to be improved, and updates should align with Green Deal environment and climate objectives. The consultation is a general public questionnaire, plus additional questions for experts and operators – you do not have to answer all questions. General questions ask what you see as important risks from municipal wastewater, key mitigation actions, priorities for action (nutrients are one of seven proposed priorities), how to improve protection of nutrient “Sensitive Areas”, addressing micropollutants, circularity (proposals include recovery obligations for phosphorus and other materials).

In particular, the question (p32 of the questionnaire in PDF) “How appropriate are the following proposed measures for building a more circular waste water treatment sector?” offers the option “Setting minimum levels for recovering phosphorous and other materials” (please NOTE: ‘5’ = important). ESPP will propose, under comments to this question, to Include materials from wastewater as a priority stream for development of EU End-of-Waste criteria under the Circular Economy Action Plan.

“Water pollution – EU rules on urban wastewater treatment”, Eu public consultation open to 21 July 2021.

The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) is postponed (because of Covid). New dates are 20-22 June 2022 in Vienna

Updates: see www.phosphorusplatform.eu and https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews054
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4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM)
Registration now open!

Events
AquaEnviro Wastewater Resource Recovery Conference: 18 May 2021
SYSTEMIC: nutrients from biowaste, 27 May 2021
4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM): 2 June 2021
IFA plant nutrition innovation conference: 8-10 June 2021
Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021
New dates for ESPC4: 20-22 June 2022

Policy

EU consultation on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWT)
Joint action for End-of-Waste status for materials recycled from wastewaters
“Environmental Hazard Potential” of the CRM “Phosphate Rock”
Sewage Sludge Directive revision workshop
Safe recycling of nutrients to animal feed
European Parliament on Circular Economy

Fertilising Products Regulations

Digestate and compost in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation
France proposes “half waste” status for sewage sludge composts
Manure and Animal By Products in “STRUBIAS”
ESPP proposals for “CMC-WW”

Industry

Florida: state of emergency for disused phosphogypsum pond
New phosphate production planned in Sweden
Irish Water and Ostara to produce 14 t/day of struvite
Benefits of struvite

CRU Phosphates Conference 2021

Global phosphate market outlook
New EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FRP)
Fertiliser market trends in Europe
How EU policies will influence phosphorus use
EasyMining phosphorus recycling
Glatt PHOS4green
Phosphoric acid from low-grade phosphate rock
P4: outlook for a Critical Raw Material

Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

RELACS: recycled nutrients in Organic Farming
Environment and health
Perspectives for acceptance of recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

Research

Eutrophication significantly increases greenhouse emissions
Biochar pyrolysis removes antibiotic resistance genes
Differing positions on sewage sludge use in agriculture
Phosphate fertiliser value of dairy processing sludges

Stay informed


ESPP members

 

4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM)

Registration now open!

Online, 2nd June 2021

Event web page: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/PERM4
Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qcOmrrjouEtRlibbtiMrcZVSKb4MEvYyc


eu green week partner event

Events

AquaEnviro Wastewater Resource Recovery Conference: 18 May 2021

One day conference on resource recovery from wastewaters and biosolids, covering nutrient recovery, hydrogen and other materials: experience from pilot and full scale plants; market pull, user confidence and business models, regulatory framework, links to net zero carbon 2030 agenda for the UK wastewater industry.
“The Art of the Possible: Resource Recovery from Wastewater and Bioresources”, May 18th 2021 online  https://conferences.aquaenviro.co.uk/events/conferences/resource-recovery-from-wastewater/

 

 

SYSTEMIC: nutrients from biowaste, 27 May 2021

Webinar “Enabling a Circular Economy: How to encourage a viable agricultural market for nutrients recovered from biowaste”, with William Neale, Advisor, European Commission DG Environment, Jan Huitema, Member of the European Parliament, Ludwig Hermann, Proman and ESPP President, Oscar Schoumans, Wageningen University and Research, Annabelle Williams, European Landowners Association.
SYSTEMIC (Horizon 2020 project) webinar, Thursday 27th May: 13h30-15h30 CEST Registration

 

 

 

4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM): 2 June 2021

This meeting, co-organised by ESPP, Biorefine Cluster Europe and ETA Renewable Energies, will link science, industry, agriculture and policy makers. EU-funded projects on nutrient sustainability and phosphorus recycling (Horizon2020, Interreg, LIFE…) and national and company nutrient projects will present, enabling dialogue and synergies. PERM will address how to improve uptake of project recommendations by policy makers and users, through to market, and identify perspectives for research and policy, and implementation gaps.

In parallel to PERM, ESPP is updating our online ‘inventory’ of nutrient-related R&D projects here.
PERM4 – online – 2nd June 2021: event website: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/PERM4
Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qcOmrrjouEtRlibbtiMrcZVSKb4MEvYyc
Proposals are welcome for presentations of studies into what factors in nutrient R&D projects improve uptake of conclusions by policy makers, industry and users.
If you wish your project to be included in the programme and/or added to the inventory of nutrient R&D projects, please contact

 

 

IFA plant nutrition innovation conference: 8-10 June 2021

The global fertiliser industry (International Fertilizer Association) “Smart & Green” conference will bring together scientists, industry and start-up technologies around controlled-release and stabilised fertilisers, biostimulants, incentivising and funding fertiliser innovation, digital fertiliser management, organic fertilisers and nutrient recycling.
IFA Smart & Green “where tech meets plant nutrition”, 8-10 June, online here.

 

 

Nutrients, aquatic methane emissions and climate change: 22-27 June 2021

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments: Sources, Sinks and Subsequent Fluxes to The Atmosphere. Within the 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting (online, 22-27 June 2021). In partnership with the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and ASLO, ESPP and SPA will follow-up with a webinar to exchange between science, water stakeholders and policy makers on implications of aquatic methane emissions for nutrient management. Proposals for input are welcome.
ASLO special session on methane in oxic aquatic environments: https://www.aslo.org/2021-virtual-meeting/session-list/
Contact Mina Bizic
To contribute to the ESPP- SPA- IGB webinar: contact

 

 

New dates for ESPC4: 20-22 June 2022

The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) is postponed (because of Covid). New dates are 20-22 June 2022 in Vienna. PERM, the European Phosphorus Research Meeting will be held virtually 2nd June 2021, see below.
Updates: see www.phosphorusplatform.eu and https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

 

Policy

 

EU consultation on Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWT)

Open to 21 July 2021. The consultation document notes that the 2019 evaluation of the 1991 UWWTD concluded that it is largely fit for purpose, but some aspects need to be improved, and updates should align with Green Deal environment and climate objectives. The consultation is a general public questionnaire, plus additional questions for experts and operators – you do not have to answer all questions. General questions ask what you see as important risks from municipal wastewater, key mitigation actions, priorities for action (nutrients are one of seven proposed priorities), how to improve protection of nutrient “Sensitive Areas”, addressing micropollutants, circularity (proposals include recovery obligations for phosphorus and other materials).

In particular, the question (p32 of the questionnaire in PDF) “How appropriate are the following proposed measures for building a more circular waste water treatment sector?” offers the option “Setting minimum levels for recovering phosphorous and other materials” (please NOTE: ‘5’ = important). ESPP will propose, under comments to this question, to Include materials from wastewater as a priority stream for development of EU End-of-Waste criteria under the Circular Economy Action Plan.
“Water pollution – EU rules on urban wastewater treatment”, Eu public consultation open to 21 July 2021.

 

 

Joint action for End-of-Waste status for materials recycled from wastewaters

Over 120 (to date) industry and public water operator federations, companies and research institutes, have signed a joint letter to the European Commission requesting that materials recovered from wastewaters be included in the priority streams for development of EU End-of-Waste criteria, currently being defined under the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Further organisations are still welcome to join this initiative and sign the letter (see below).

Recycled materials suggested include algae or plant biomass grown using wastewater; fibres, fatty acids, proteins, gums, fats and oils; phosphates and other chemicals or minerals for industrial applications (the route to EU End-of-Waste status for fertiliser applications already exists via the EU Fertilising Products Regulation); CO2; grit and sand. The request was initiated by ESPP and signatories to date include Eureau (European Federation of National Associations of Water Services), Aqua Publica Europea (European Association of Public Water Operators), EABA (European Algae Biomass Association), Biorefine Cluster Europe, Water Alliance Netherlands, AquaMinerals BV, ACR+ (Association of Cities and Regions for sustainable Resource management) …
Further signatory organisations are welcome: contact
The joint letter can be consulted here: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

 

“Environmental Hazard Potential” of the CRM “Phosphate Rock”

The final report (Task 2) to the European Commission for preparation of the new working plan for the Ecodesign Directive proposes as a new horizontal Ecodesign initiative “Scarce materials and critical raw materials”, because “very relevant in relation to the circular economy action plan and also in relation to the individual product’s lifecycle”.

Phosphate Rock, which is on the EU Critical Raw Materials list, is identified to have “High EHP” (Environmental Hazard Potentials). This is based on Dehoust et al. 2020 (UBA report).

Dehoust classifies Phosphate Rock as medium concern for governance, but high impact for global material and energy flow and for aggregated Environmental Hazard Potentials. The latter is based on suggested medium EHP for heavy metals, accidental hazards due to landslides etc, water stress and deserts, protected areas and governance, but high for association with radioactivity, surface mining and use of chemicals in processing (acids, flotation). This seems to indicate in some cases misinformation, for example acid used in processing phosphate rock is systematically a by-product. The report concludes that Phosphate Rock is “environmentally critical”.

The EU Critical Raw Material “Phosphorus”, that is P4, is not considered in the Ecodesign report, which is inappropriate in that P4 and P4-derivatives are essential for e.g. electronics manufacture and plastics fire safety, both of which are necessary for many energy using products addressed by EU Ecodesign criteria. This may be because “Phosphorus” (P4) is not considered in the Dehoust / UBA document.
Task 2 “Identification of product groups and horizontal measures”, final draft, March 2021.
Task 3 “Preliminary analysis of product groups and horizontal initiatives”, “Scarce and environmentally critical raw materials”, draft, February 2021.
https://www.ecodesignworkingplan20-24.eu/
“Environmental Criticality of Raw Materials, An assessment of environmental hazard potentials of raw materials from mining and recommendations for an ecological raw materials policy”, G. Dehoust et al., UBA TEXTE 80/2020 https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/1410/publikationen/2020-06-17_texte_80-2020_oekoressii_environmentalcriticality-report_.pdf

 

 

Sewage Sludge Directive revision workshop

A stakeholder workshop organised for the European Commission (20-21 April, online, over 270 participants) addressed the revision of the EU Sewage Sludge Directive (SSD) 86/278/EEC. The European Commission, DG Environment, explained that the objectives of this Directive, in the 1980’s, were to encourage the recycling of sewage sludge to agriculture and to ensure safety. The 2014 evaluation of the SSD here concluded that it is effective in returning carbon to soil, but inadequate for promoting the Circular Economy, or for controlling pollutants other than heavy metals, and that a number of Member States have today stricter rules. The 2019 evaluation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive concluded that better account should be taken of energy use and greenhouse emissions related to wastewater treatment, and that materials recovery and safe use should be promoted by the SSD. The revision of the SSD should also take into account the EU soil and pharmaceuticals strategies.

Workshop presentations included:

  • Alberto Pistocchi, European Commission JRC, modelling toxicity risks of sewage sludge to surface waters and soil and concentrations of micropollutants in soil, crops and humans;
  • Rachel Hurley, NIVA, microplastics in sewage sludge and in soils, and trnasfer to surface waters;
  • Aoife Kyne, Irish Water and Anders Finnson, Swedish Water Association, quality standards systems for sewage biosolids and actions to reduce pollutants at source;
  • Christian Kabbe, EasyMining, different routes for phosphorus recovery;
  • Bertrand Vallet, Eureau, valorisation of sewage biosolids beyond agriculture, such as greening of disused mines or ski slopes;
  • Dries Huyguens, JRC, direct and indirect greenhouse emissions from sewage treatment: energy use, NOx emissions, chemicals use, on-site renewable energy, displaced emissions from nutrient or materials recovery;
  • Jóannes Jørgen Gaard, consultant to the Denmark Environment Ministry, significance of NOx emissions in sewage treatment and opportunities for reducing these.

Workshop conclusions, after breakout sessions, suggested that safe reuse of sewage biosolids in agriculture and recovery of secondary raw materials remain Circular Economy priorities, conform to Green Deal objectives, with possibilities also for biosolids reuse in land reclamation, for which standards should be defined. A priority is reduction of contaminants at source. There is a high potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in wastewater treatment, with questions on how and where to define greenhouse emissions objectives.

Possible policy measures proposed include permitting of emissions to sewers of sectors such as car-washes or hair salons, tracking contaminants to source, chemicals and product policies to avoid pollution at source, minimum recovery requirements for phosphorus and for other materials, and water reuse.
European Commission Sewage Sludge Directive web page and evaluation web page.

  

 

Safe recycling of nutrients to animal feed

The EU Animal Feed Regulation 767/2009 (art. 6(1) and annex II $1 and $5) excludes materials derived from wastewaters or manures irrespective of treatment or processing. Interpretation of this could pose problems for several recycling routes. For example, if phosphoric acid is recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash, it could be considered that this should not be placed on the commodity chemicals market or only with traceability indicating “not to be used in production of animal feed”.

ESPP has consulted operators and identified three relevant recycling routes, and has proposed to the European Commission to address these appropriately in order to lift potential obstacles to the Circular Economy:

  • Phosphate chemicals recovered from ashes after incineration of sewage sludge or manure. Such chemicals can be used directly as animal feed (e.g. calcium phosphates) or sold as commodity chemicals (e.g. phosphoric acid). In that this is via ash, there should be no safety risk (incineration will eliminate pathogens).
  • Nitrogen chemicals from ammonium gas stripping of sewage, manure or digestates, placed on the market as commodity chemicals. Evidence may need to be gathered to prove that pathogens are not transferred through the gas stripping and chemical processing.
  • Algae or other biomass using wastewater or manure as growth medium: case specific safety assessment may be necessary.

ESPP’s letter is supported by a table detailing relevant processes, uses of recovered products, status of implementation and safety questions. Comments and input are welcome.
ESPP letter to the European Commission (DG SANTE), 7th May 2021, and supporting table: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

  

 

European Parliament on Circular Economy

The European Parliament has voted a resolution on the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Parliament calls for binding EU targets to reduce material and consumption footprints and harmonised circularity indicators. Parliament calls for investigation of the sources, fate and effects of micro-plastics in wastewater treatment and for equipping new washing machines with microfibre filters. For the Key Product Value Chain “Food, Water and Nutrients”, Parliament calls for action to reduce food waste, separate collection of bio-waste, increased replacement of fossil materials with renewable bio-based materials, measures to close the agricultural nutrient loop, reduction of EU dependency on imported vegetable protein for animal feed and increased recycling of animal manure and other organic nutrients. Parliament calls for a circular approach in waste water treatment and “highlights that resources can be recovered from wastewater, ranging from cellulose via bioplastics to nutrients, energy and water”.
European Parliament, 10th February 2021, resolution P9_TA(2021)0040 on the New Circular Economy Action Plan https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-02-10_EN.html

 

 

 

 

Fertilising Products Regulations

 

Digestate and compost in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation

Some 280 participants took part in the EBA – ECN webinar on 28th April.

David Wilken, German Biogas Association, presented conclusions of the EBA – ECN European survey on perspectives for CE-marking of compost and biogas under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), when it enters into implementation in July 2022. The survey received over 100 answers from 21 countries. A large majority of respondents considered that the future CE-mark will be relevant for composts and digestates, in particular as a route to obtaining End-of-Waste status and better marketability, although many do not expect it to bring higher sales revenue and most expect it to involve significant administrative burdens and costs (in particular for conformity assessment). Most respondents consider that digestate will need some process of upgrading to achieve FPR criteria (CMC5), e.g. composting of digestate, drying, liquid/solid separation. Manure is seen as a very relevant input material, as well as sewage sludge (which is however excluded from EU FPR composts and digestates), as well as a wide range of other materials.

Theodora Nikolakopoulou, DG GROW, addressed a range of questions concerning application of the FPR to composts and digestates : manures and animal-by products as inputs – do they have to be pasteurised upstream of composting/digestion?; multiplication of conformity assessments if one compost producer supplies several fertiliser producers; definition of “sludge”; additives used upstream of the digestion process (e.g. flocculation agents) – must be declared as a distinct CMC; demonstrating conformity to PAH limits – does not necessarily mean testing …
Digestate valorisation under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, webinar, 28 April 2021 here. Links to slides and conference report.

 

 

ESPP proposals for “CMC-WW”

As indicated I ESPP eNews n°53, the European Commission has proposed a new Component Material Category for the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, “CMC-WW”, open to any by-product coming from a “production process” or from a gas processing / gas emissions control process” which offers “high purity” and does not contain specified contaminants. ESPP has input proposals suggesting that:

  • CMC-WW should be extended to “and derivates”, that is authorise use of such by-products as precursors for producing fertilising materials (not only use directly as such). E.g. by-product sulphuric acid used in phosphate fertiliser production, but not used itself in fertilisers.
  • Not require testing for a contaminant if there is no reason for it to be present
  • Replace the concept of “high purity” by safety requirements

ESPP submitted list of possible candidate materials for CMC-WW, collated from stakeholders, including: ammonium and sulphur compounds from gas cleaning, sulphur from oil refining, wax by-products, spent acids, ammonium salts from fire extinguisher refurbishment, mineral salts from waste incinerator ashes, by-products from drinking water production, PHBV from fatty acid fermentation, vivianite, nutrient residues from wood bioethanol production …
ESPP proposals to the European Commission on CMC-WW for by-products in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

France proposes “half waste” status for sewage sludge composts

The French Government seems to be proposing a new legal status for composts and digestates containing sewage biosolids, manure, biowaste, etc. fulfilling the AFNOR NFU 44 095 standard (that is recognition as a French ‘national’ fertiliser product). These organic fertilisers would have “Waste” (not “Product”) status, but could be placed on the market and would NOT be subject to a spreading plan (the producer is responsible “until they are used by the farmer”).

The proposed decree would establish three categories A1 (“Product”), A2 = all composts and digestates containing sewage sludge, manure, food waste, etc (“Waste”, but not subject to waste spreading plan) and B (“Waste”, subject to spreading plan).

The official Opinion of the French national agency for health, food, environment etc. (ANSES) states that “the concept of these three categories is not intuitive and their appropriation is not immediate and the whole decree has to be read to understand the distinction” (20 pages!).

It is unclear to ESPP whether this “half-waste” status (waste, but not subject to waste management plan) is conform to European regulation (Waste Framework Directive). Also, if the producer responsibility stops when the A2 materials are spread on a field, given that they are spread as a “waste”, presumably the legal responsibility is transferred to each farmer, which is unlikely to be welcome.

 

 

Manure and Animal By Products in “STRUBIAS”

After consultation of stakeholders and operators, ESPP has written to the European Commission (SANTE and GROW) proposing approaches to the currently outstanding question of use of manure or other Animal By Products (ABPs) in “STRUBIAS” materials under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), that is struvite and precipitated phosphates, ash-derived materials, pyrolysis and biochars.

The technically-finalised “STRUBIAS” criteria authorise the use of certain ABPs (inc. manure) as inputs for the three STRUBIAS categories, but only if ABP End Point “has been determined”. In order to move this forward, ESPP proposes:

  • For ashes and ash-derived materials: ABP ash is already today widely used as fertiliser (e.g. poultry litter ash) so determining this ABP End Point should be a priority. In that the incineration combustion conditions defined in the STRUBIAS ash criteria are those recognised in the ABP Regulations as ensuring safety, this should be rapidly possible without requiring any data collection or risk assessment.
  • For precipitated phosphates: there appears to be only one installation recovering struvite or precipitated phosphates (of STRUBIAS quality) from manure or ABPs in Europe (NuTriSep Geltz, Germany). Most manure struvite projects recover from digestate, where the digestor can already ensure the ABP End Point. ESPP therefore proposes no further action for this STRUBIAS category at present.
  • For biochars: ESPP notes that the JRC report concluded that the pyrolysis conditions defined under STRUBIAS will ensure elimination of pathogens. ESPP requests that EFSA be mandated to define an ABP End Point for STRUBIAS biochars and pyrolysis materials.

ESPP letter to the European Commission on “Animal By Product End Points for EU Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS materials”, 16th April 2021 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory
STRUBIAS criteria, as published for the public consultation February 2021
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12136-Pyrolysis-and-gasification-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12162-Thermal-oxidation-materials-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12163-Precipitated-phosphate-salts-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

 

 

Industry

 

Florida: state of emergency for disused phosphogypsum pond

Up to 1.8 billion litres of polluted water are being released from a disused phosphate fertiliser factory’s 31 ha phosphogypsum pond, at Piney Point, near Tampa, Florida. The State Governor has declared a state of emergency and evacuated 300 households because the pond walls risk collapse, after starting to leak. The fertiliser factory was operated from 1966 to 1999. Media reports suggest that problems with the pond walls have been known for nearly 20 years. The water released from the pond contains phosphorus and nitrogen which will contribute to eutrophication of Tampa Bay and environmental NGOs have warned of risks of red tide algal blooms. The phosphogypsum in the pond also contains radioactive elements, but the Florida authorities say that levels in released water meet quality standards.
The Guardian UK, 4th April 2021, and other media online.

 

New phosphate production planned in Sweden

Two significant projects to “mine” phosphate from secondary resources in Sweden were presented at the Nordic Circular Materials Conference: 21-22 April 2021. In both cases, the projects will extract phosphate from apatite minerals (phosphate rock family) present in tailings of from iron ore mining, either from operating iron production sites or from stocked tailings from closed mines. The apatite is mainly rare earth element substituted fluorapatite, e.g. monazite, low in cadmium and arsenic, and the extraction of the rare earths with the phosphate will enable economic viability.

Ulrika Håkansson, LKAB, presented the company’s project treating ore tailings from iron mines in Kiruna and Malmberget. LKAB’s objective is to be operational by 2027, producing c. 50 000 tP/year (five times Sweden’s mineral P fertiliser consumption), as apatite concentrate, and c. 30% of EU rare earth needs.

Christer Lindqvist presented the Grängesberg Apatite Recovery Project, which aims to recover apatite from stocked tailings of the Grangesberg iron mine (John Matts dam), which was the world’s biggest iron ore producer in the nineteenth century. The following rare earth elements will be produced: Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Tb, Eu. Production will be around 13 000 tP/y, with the aim of starting within 3-4 years. The stocked tailings will support around seven years production, and this may be extended with a project to re-open the iron ore mine
Slides from Nordic Circular Materials Conference
LKAB secondary P-mining project: www.ree-map.com
Grängesberg Exploration Holding AB https://grangesbergexploration.se/

 

 

Irish Water and Ostara to produce 14 t/day of struvite

Murphy Ireland and Ostara have announced construction of a new Ostara Pearl® struvite recovery installation, with WASSTRIP®, as part of the upgrade of Irish Water’s Ringsend waste water treatment plant to 2.4 million p.e. capacity and conversion to biological phosphorus removal. Struvite production should start in 2023. Ringsend treats around 40% of Ireland’s wastewater and discharges into the nutrient Sensitive Area, Lower Liffey Estuary and Dublin Bay.
“Ostara and Murphy Partner to deliver part of Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Project for Irish Water”, 28th April 2021 press release.

 

Benefits of struvite

An article by Ostara in World Fertilizer provides an accessible summary of different benefits of recycling phosphorus from sewage as struvite, as operational with 22 commercial Ostara reactors running worldwide. The paper outlines the Planetary Boundary challenge for phosphorus and summarises environmental footprint study data comparing recovered struvite to production of mineral phosphate fertiliser (“emergy” approach, see ESPP eNews 35). Agronomic benefits of struvite are also outlined. Because struvite is crop-available (soluble in weak organic acids) but it is not water soluble, there is no risk of burning germinating crops, lower osmotic stress on soil micro-organisms, and reduced risks of phosphorus run-off to surface waters. Trials have shown that a combination of struvite and mineral fertiliser can increase yield and crop quality in potatoes, above standard fertiliser practice.
“Greener Cycle”, R. Leatherwood & R. van Springelen, Ostara, World Fertilizer, March 2021 http://bit.ly/3vf9ZFG

 

CRU Phosphates Conference 2021

“Phosphates 2021”, the only annual global event for the phosphate mining, processing, phosphorus chemicals and phosphate fertiliser industries, brought together some 560 delegates, online, 23-25 March 2021. The online format increased attendance by +50% compared to previous physical conferences.
https://www.phosphates2021.com/

 

Global phosphate market outlook

Chris Lawson and Glen Kurokawa of CRU outlined current world market trends for phosphates. After falling from around 2012 to end 2019, prices have risen rapidly since 2020, and are back to their 2012 levels (but still less than half the peak prices reached in 2008-2009). This recent increase mirrors increases in agricultural crop prices, and is driven by high world phosphorus demand (including in China, despite a long-term trend to better P efficiency here), low stocks, Covid supply disruption and specific impacts of new import tariffs for the USA.

CRU consider however that the current price level will not be sustained because increases in production (e.g. in China) will bring prices down somewhat in the coming year.

Over the next five years, significant increases in capacity will come online, e.g. in Morocco. Nonetheless prices are expected to remain high over this period because of continuing global demand and increasing costs of raw materials, wages, and (in China) environmental restoration measures.

Over coming decades, the phosphate market is expected to be impacted by long-term trends including continuing growth in agricultural demand, and circular economy initiatives (especially in Europe) to develop recycled products.

 

New EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FRP)

Johanna Bernsel, European Commission DG GROW, explained that the new regulation is very ambitious, widening to cover many different products related to nutrient use in agriculture, including biostimulants which can improve fertiliser nutrient use efficiency. The regulation has Circular Economy objectives, opening the European market for both recycled nutrient materials and recycling technology providers. It will also bring new protection to EU consumers, because for the first time contaminant limits are introduced for CE fertilisers, including for cadmium.

It is important to note that when the new Regulation enters into implementation in June 2022, producers will no longer be able to market under the old regulation 2003/2003, but will have the choice of using the new regulation (CE-Mark) and/or selling under national fertiliser regulations, which will remain in force in each Member State (“Optional Harmonisation”).

Producers should refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and to the Labelling Guidance, both of which documents provide important clarifications on implementation of the new regulation.

In questions from conference participants, it was clarified that the new regulation will limit cadmium to 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 in all CE-Mark mineral phosphate fertilisers from June 2022, as well as limits on certain other heavy metals, and that producers have the option to label “Low Cadmium” when below 20. However, the Commission is mandated by the regulation to review the cadmium limit by 2026, and also to assess a possible uranium limit. Johanna Bernsel also underlined that possible action is also envisaged on contaminants in all fertilisers (organic and mineral, CE-Mark or national fertilisers) with a study underway (see ESPP eNews n°52.
European Commission FRP “Frequently Asked Questions” here
European Commission FRP labelling guidance document C(2021)726 (18/2/2021) and Annex here

 

 

Fertiliser market trends in Europe

Konstantin Golambek, Fertilizers Europe, presented latest conclusions from the federation’s annual analysis of European fertiliser markets and estimates for trends for the coming decade. Phosphorus consumption in mineral fertilisers has fallen by around half in Europe since the 1980’s and has been fairly stable since the late 2000’s. Fertilizers Europe estimates that P use in mineral fertilisers in Europe will fall very slightly, maybe c. 2%, over the next ten years, and N by maybe -5 to -6%. However, there are major regional differences in mineral P fertiliser use across Europe, partly related to differences in density of livestock production (and so manure availability and use).

Fertiliser use will be influenced by crop choice, by climate and by the global agri-food commodity market, by innovation in agriculture, by regulation and also in the long term by a move towards more plant-based diets and by the need for the EU to replace imported animal feedstuffs, such as soy. Farmers in Europe are under high pressure because of labour costs, food industry purchasing and regulation.

Fertilizers Europe sees as key to responding to these challenges: balancing all nutrients and use of both mineral and organic fertilisers, adapting to different regional contexts, increasing knowledge per hectare, Circular Economy and high-efficiency fertilisers. The aim is to improve Nutrient Use Efficiency and maintain soil fertility. Nutrient Management Plans in the Common Agricultural Policy will be critical for this.

 

How EU policies will influence phosphorus use

Chris Thornton, ESPP, summarised European policies and regulations which will significantly impact phosphorus use in Europe in coming years. The Green Deal Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategy target to reduce nutrient losses by 50% by 2030 should considerably impact use of mineral fertilisers, organic fertilisers and livestock manure. This is driven by the ongoing problem of eutrophication, likely to be accentuated by climate change, with phosphorus the main (non-morphological) cause of failure to achieve Water Framework Directive quality status requirements in surface waters. Farm-to-Fork also announces actions to promote a shift towards healthy and sustainable diets, with more plant-based foods and less red meat. However, these objectives require clear requirements on balanced nutrient management in the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and this is not yet defined. Other EU policies which significantly impact phosphorus use include the confirmed inclusion of both phosphate rock and P4 on the EU Critical Raw Materials List, the EFSA safe limit (ADI) for phosphorus in food (2019) and Circular Economy policies.
ESPP presentation slides here: https://www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

 

EasyMining phosphorus recycling

Yariv Cohen, Sara Stiernström and Christian Kabbe presented the EasyMining (a subsidiary of Ragn-Sells) Ash2Phos process for recovering phosphorus in a purified form from sewage sludge incineration ash. The process uses acid then lime to extract phosphorus from ash and separate off the inert silica (as a sand, useable in the construction industry). The phosphorus is purified (>96% removal of impurities including heavy metals) to produce a precipitated calcium phosphorus (PCP) which is for example 80% soluble in NAC (conform to the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation requirement of >75%) or can be converted to di-calcium phosphate (DCP, 100% NAC soluble). Iron and aluminium can be recovered and recycled as coagulants for sewage treatment. Because of the purity of the recovered PCP, this is currently being trialled for use in animal feed (see ESPP eNews n°52). Easymining today have a 30 000 t-ash/year plant currently in the permitting process in Helsingborg, Sweden, a second 30 000 t-ash/y plant under planning near Berlin Germany and aim to have a third 300 000 t-ash/year capacity in Germany within a decade.
http://easymining.se/ and ESPP – DPP – NNP P-recovery Technology Catalogue
http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Glatt PHOS4green

Jan Kirchhof, Glatt Ingenieurtechnik GmbH, presented this process which is based on suspension and granulation technologies. Ash is mixed with phosphoric or other acid or additives in a batch reactor, then buffered, then goes to a continuous spray granulation process. The processing is flexible, and other acids or solid or liquid raw materials can be used. At present, the process transfers all contaminants, inert materials such a silica, and iron and aluminium, present in the ash, into the final product. This means that at present only ashes which themselves fulfil fertiliser regulation requirements can be used. Glatt indicate that they are currently at the design phase for a process for heavy metal removal. A first full-scale plant is currently under commissioning in Haldensleben, Germany, with capacity to intake c. 30 000 t-ash per year and produce c. 60 000 t/y fertiliser.
https://phos4green.glatt.com/ and ESPP – DPP – NNP P-recovery Technology Catalogue
http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Phosphoric acid from low-grade phosphate rock

Marc Sonveaux and Hadrien Leruth, Prayon, presented Prayon’s phosphoric acid production processes, including from low-grade phosphate rock and for phosphorus recycling. The Ecophos / Technophos process produces feed grade DCP (di calcium phosphate) from low-grade phosphate rock with high magnesium content (P content ≥ 5%P) using hydrochloric acid. After acid digestion of the rock, calcium carbonate is added to precipitate impurities (fluoride, silicates (>95% removal), clays, iron and aluminium (>90% removal) and heavy metals), generating 0.3 - 0.45 tDM residue cake per tonne of rock input (depending on the rock composition). After processing to DCP, fluoride is well below 2000 ppm, cadmium below detection limit, arsenic < 3 ppm, etc. The DCP is di-hydrate, offering high biodigestibility. A 5 t/day rock input pilot has been tested for up to 10 days continuous (24/24) operation in Varna, Bulgaria (see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°120). Prayon today has a portfolio of five conventional processes to produce phosphoric acid from phosphate rock using sulphuric acid, as well as the Ecophos/Technophos process, and the GetMoreP process. Currently technologies including H2SO4/HCl based and phosphoric acid based processes from Ecophos, aiming to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge incineration ash and other waste ashes, are at the pilot stage phase (see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°138)

Roy Movsowitz, Tenova Bateman Technologies, presented the TAT PPA  process to produce phosphoric acid from low-grade phosphate rock (as low as 10% P) using hydrochloric acid (excess from the ChlorAlkali process). Two solvent extraction circuits, both with several stages, are required to removal calcium, sulphate and some iron, then to remove further iron and heavy metals, followed by post-treatment to remove organics, reduce fluorine and finally concentrate the phosphoric acid. Further challenges are treatment of liquid effluent (after lime neutralisation) and solid waste. A 21 000 tP2O5/y output plant is being commissioned in India and a second of the same capacity is in the construction stage.

 

P4: outlook for a Critical Raw Material

Willem Schipper summarised uses and perspectives for P4 and its derivatives, which represent around 2% of world phosphate rock consumption (of which around half in the herbicide glyphosate). Although this is a relatively small quantity, many uses of P4 are critical and non-substitutable, including in lithium-ion batteries, fire safety, matches and pyrotechnics, catalysis, lubricants … as well as thermal phosphoric acid for electronics applications requiring very high purity. Today there are around forty P4 furnaces operating worldwide, mostly in China (maybe 30 plants, c. 70% of world production), Vietnam (8 plants, c. 10%), USA (1 plant, c. 10%) and Kazakhstan (1 Plant, c. 10%). Prices were stable in 2020, with no large new applications foreseen, and a significant part of China’s production of P4 still going to uses such as detergents or food phosphates where P4 derivatives can today be replaced by chemicals from purified “wet acid” route phosphoric acid. The market outlook is mixed, with on the one hand a new P4 production plant coming onstream shortly in Malaysia and expansions in capacity of “wet acid” purification also underway, but on the other hand growth in uses. For more information on P4 and P4 derivates, see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°136.

Willem Schipper also provided an overview of phosphorus recycling technologies and their development, underlining that regulation drives technology development (e.g. Germany and Switzerland P-recycling obligations). In particular, technologies are today available for phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge incineration ash and animal by-product ash, with a number of full-scale plants at the construction or commissioning stage. The successful processes will probably be those which are economic, accept different input materials and produce products adapted to market needs.

 

Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

RELACS: recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

The final two RELACS webinars on potential and risks of use of recycled nutrient products in Organic Farming considered contaminants, recycling routes and Life Cycle Analysis (following on from the first three webinars already summarised in ESPP eNews n°53) and concluded with discussion of how use of recycled nutrients is considered in the EU Organic Farming Regulation and perspectives for using recycled nutrients as Organic Farming inputs in the future.

Environment and health

Robin Harder, SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), presented possibilities of recycling nutrients from human faeces and urine and from municipal sewage. When excreta are collected separately at the source (to date only marginal in Europe), this can provide nutrients in a more concentrated form and with less contaminants than in municipal sewage, though pharmaceuticals and hormones are still potentially present. Technically, it should be possible to obtain clean and safe recycling fertilisers from both source-separated urine and faeces and from municipal sewage. In case of recovery from municipal sewage, the focus is often on phosphorus, whereas with recovery from source-separated excreta, a broader focus on more nutrient elements is more common.

Kristian Koefoed Brandt, University of Copenhagen, summarised knowledge on antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in organic waste streams and in soils. Farmland application of organic fertilizers typically leads to a transient increase in abundance and diversity of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Metals such as copper and zinc may constitute persistent selection pressures for antibiotic resistance (co-selection) in some agricultural soils, whereas antibiotic residues tend to be quickly biodegraded or inactivated in soil (Song et al., 2017). Results from a recent Swedish agricultural field trial indicated that 40 years of sewage sludge application did not have any clear effects on ARGs most likely due to competitive exclusion of sludge-derived bacteria (Rutgersson et al., 2020).

Lukas Egle, Vienna Municipality, presented the City’s objective to recover phosphorus from ash from mono-incineration of sewage sludge, and maybe in the future, also animal by-products. The incineration route ensures elimination of organic contaminants and microplastics, and heavy metals are removed in the ash processing. In Austria, sewage contains around 1 kgP/person per year, and phosphorus in animal by-products is a further 0.5 – 0.6 kgP/person/year. If this were fully recovered, it would represent nearly half of Austria’s mineral phosphate fertiliser use.

Ludwig Hermann, Proman and ESPP President, summarised conclusions of LCA comparisons between mineral fertilisers and recycled nutrient products under the Phorwärts (see ESPP eNews n°28), Systemic and Lex4Bio projects. Greenhouse gas emissions from mineral phosphate fertiliser production are relatively limited, 1 – 1.5 kgCO2-eq./kgP2O5, compared to 9 -11 kgCO2-eq./kgN for mineral nitrogen fertilisers. Environmental impacts of most recycled P-fertilisers are lower than those of mineral P-fertilisers, particularly if heavy metals are removed. However, the lower impact is not guaranteed due to high chemicals consumption for some recovery processes or relevant heavy metal concentrations (Zn, Cu, Pb, Cr) compensating the advantage of lower cadmium concentrations. LCA analysis suggests that the most important environmental impacts are freshwater eutrophication (in the use phase), cadmium toxicity (depending on the source of rock used) and risk of accidental pollution from phosphogypsum waste stocks (generally around historic production sites, see article on Tampa, Florida, below). Difficulties are that various different LCA methodologies are not compatible, results depend very strongly on definition of boundaries and allocation of impacts to different outputs, non-coverage of accidental pollution risks in LCAs and need for probabilistic risk assessment for pollutants.

Perspectives for acceptance of recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

Bernhard Speiser, FiBL, outlined key points of the EU Organic Farming Regulation relevant to use of secondary nutrient materials. A material can only be used as an input (e.g. fertiliser) in Organic Farming if it is specifically listed in the Regulation annex. At present, a number of secondary nutrient materials are listed (with various specific conditions, in particular “not from factory farming”): manure, dejecta of insects and worms, composted/digested household biowaste, biogas digestate, mushroom culture waste, slaughterhouse wastes, alcohol industry stillage, mollusc waste, egg shells, industrial lime from sugar or salt production. The Regulation also fixes some general principles: input materials must be from plants, algae, animals, microbes or minerals (i.e. not chemically processed) unless such materials are not available in sufficient quantity or quality. Also (art. 5) mineral fertilisers must be “low solubility”.

Frank Oudshoorn, SEGES Denmark and member of EGTOP (the EU expert group on Organic Farming) explained that this group examines proposals to add additional input materials to the Regulation annex, when a dossier is submitted with support of a Member State. EGTOP examines whether the proposed material is needed for Organic Farming, safety, and assesses conformity to the overall principles of Organic Farming: natural or Organic origins of the material, low solubility, principle for fertilisers of feeding the soil not the plant. However, Member States may sometimes interpret differently. For example, Denmark has, in advance, accepted use in Organic Farming of ammonium sulphate recovered from digestate by combining stripped ammonia with stripped sulphur – because it was considered the production process was a “mechanical” concentration of digestate. The process has however not been used yet.

Anne-Kristin Løes, NORSØK (Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture), underlined the need for a scientific approach to defining terminology used in the Organic Farming Regulation, such as “natural”, “low solubility”, “physical processing”. This is explored in Løes and Adler, 2019 which discusses the dilemmas between “natural” and sustainability and recycling; between “low solubility” and clean, low contaminant products, between “non-chemical processing” and efficient use of natural resources. The concept of “natural” in Organic Farming is explored in Verhoog 2003 and 2007.

Jakob Magid, University of Copenhagen, summarised a study underway in Denmark on opinions of committed Organic consumers on the use of recycled materials as inputs to Organic production. This suggests that there are two types of committed Organic consumers, at present of similar proportions: those who see Organic products as “pure and clean” and find abhorrent recycling of wastes to Organic farming, and those who favour “sustainability” and consider recycling as an important path towards a more sustainable food system.

In discussions with webinar participants and from the presentations at the five webinars, the following possible conclusions were proposed and will be elaborated in a synthesis document:

  • Many contaminants have decreased in both sewage sludge and manure
  • Organic contaminants in sewage are not a significant risk, but do generate fear and uncertainty
  • Sustainability and recycling are core objectives of Organic Farming
  • Multi-criteria assessments of recycling options are needed, including sustainability aspects
  • Work is needed on defining terms used in the Organic Farming Regulation, such as “low solubility” or “processing.
  • In particular, a definition of “factory farming” is needed (the European Commission has started discussions on this).
  • The Organic Farming movement should have a voice on societal questions such as livestock production localisation, separative sewage collection

RELACS (Improving Inputs for Organic Farming), Horizon 2020 https://relacs-project.eu/

 

Research

Eutrophication significantly increases greenhouse emissions

A review of around 100 scientific publications concludes that eutrophication significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions from freshwaters (CO2, methane, N2O). An increase of 5 µg/l of chlorophyll-a in lakes and reservoirs worldwide would result in an increase of GHG emissions equivalent to >6% of fossil fuel CO2.

The current GHG emissions from freshwaters worldwide are estimated to be equivalent to >30% of global fossil fuel CO2 emissions (56% from freshwater CO2 release, 40% from methane, 4% from N2O).

Eutrophic shallow lakes are estimated to emit nearly 50% more methane than comparable non-eutrophic lakes. Eutrophication increases organic matter production in fresh waters, but it is unclear whether the resulting net CO2 uptake will compensate for increased methane production, because the organic matter produced is readily degradable. Increased nitrogen loading to surface waters can cause them to shift from being N2O sinks to net N2O emitters. Eutrophication also increases freshwater GHG emissions indirectly, for example, by shifting from vegetation dominated by macrophytes to algae, whereas macrophyte roots tend to reduce methane production by moving oxygen to sediments. Also, cyanobacteria readily produce methane even in the oxic water zone, both at day and at night.

The review also shows that climate change is expected to significantly increase freshwater GHG emissions and eutrophication (see also ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°137 on climate change and eutrophication), with positive feedback loops. Increasing temperatures will increase release of nutrients from sediments (accelerated mineralisation), as will extreme climate events (remobilisation of sediments). Both will also lead to increased nutrient losses from land to freshwaters. Increased temperatures may also favour methane production in freshwaters, rather than methane consumption.

This review confirms that policy makers need to further reduce nutrient inputs to surface waters, both because climate change will increase eutrophication risks, and because freshwater eutrophication contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
“The role of freshwater eutrophication in greenhouse gas emissions: A review”, Y. Li et al., Science of the Total Environment 768 (2021) 144582 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144582

 

 

Biochar pyrolysis removes antibiotic resistance genes

Pot trials in China using pakchoi (Brassica chinensis) suggest that pyrolysis at 400 – 450°C for 30 minutes reduces ARGs (antibiotic resistance genes) to levels comparable to those in control soil. The tests compared composted pig manure (“high temperature” composting for several weeks) from two different farms to control soil (collected from farmland) and to pyrolysed composted manures (biochar). Compost was added to the pots at 4% dw/dw, and the biochar at 1.2% (equivalent because biochar yield was c. 30% of compost input dw/dw). The pots to which compost was added showed much higher levels of ARGs and of MGEs (mobile genetic elements) on the day of application than the control and biochar pots, between which there was no significant different in number of ARGs. Levels of ARGs were still higher in the compost pots after 40 days. The authors conclude that pyrolysis to produce biochar mitigates ARGs in manure.

In a paper cited, H. Liao et al. compared impacts of two composting systems, large scale (c. 20 tonnes), on levels of ARGs in sewage sludge: hyperthermophilic composting (total time 25 days, of which 15 days > 70°C), conventional composting (total time 45 days, 5 days > 55°C). The hyperthermophilic composting showed significantly better reduction of ARGs and MGEs, and shorter half-lives, compared to conventional composting. Hyperthermophilic composting reduced resistance to different antibiotics by 60 – 85 %, whereas conventional composting reduced resistance by 30 – 40%.
“Turning pig manure into biochar can effectively mitigate antibiotic resistance genes as organic fertilizer”, X. Zhou et al., Science of the Total Environment 649 (2019) 902–908 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.368

 

 

Differing positions on sewage sludge use in agriculture

A paper based on literature and 17 stakeholder interviews concludes that attitudes to agricultural use of sewage sludge in Sweden (after treatment such as composting or anaerobic digestion) are highly polarised. Fear of contamination, in particular “unknown or unfamiliar” risks, and “feelings of disgust” are obstacles to acceptance, despite the benefits of recycling nutrients and organic matter. Stakeholders interviewed were 5 famers or farmers’ cooperatives, one food retailer, one NGO, sewage works operators, regulators and consultants. An identified need is better monitoring and risk assessment of emerging contaminants such as PFAS or microplastics. The study concludes that use of sewage sludge in agriculture brings important benefits but that the priority should be better understanding and control of risks.
“Resources and Risks: Perceptions on the Application of Sewage Sludge on Agricultural Land in Sweden, a Case Study”, N. Ekane et al., Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 5:647780, https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2021.647780

 

 

Phosphate fertiliser value of dairy processing sludges

Dairy industry wastewater phosphate removal sludges, resulting from use of aluminium or calcium to precipitate phosphate to sludge, were compared to superphosphate for P-fertiliser effectiveness, on grassland in a field trial in Ireland on P-deficient soil. The P was applied on 12th April and grass was harvested on 24th May, 17th July, 26th September and 6th February of the following year. Differences in grass biomass yield were not significant compared to control, neither for the superphosphate nor for the dairy sludges. Differences in grass P concentration were not significant compared to control for any treatment in the second and third harvest, but were significantly higher with superphosphate in the first harvest, and significantly higher with both of the dairy sludges in the fourth harvest. The authors calculate that the fertiliser replacement value for the first harvest was 50% for the aluminium sludge and only 16% for the calcium sludge, but increasing to around 100% over time (one year, fourth harvest) for the aluminium sludge. They conclude that P fertiliser replacement value of dairy sludges varies significantly depending on the P-removal process and that appropriate information should be supplied to farmer to enable appropriate P management.
“Differing Phosphorus Crop Availability of Aluminium and Calcium Precipitated Dairy Processing Sludge Potential Recycled Alternatives to Mineral Phosphorus Fertiliser”, S. Ashekuzzaman, Fertiliser. Agronomy 2021, 11, 427 https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11030427

 

 

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