Wim Debeuckelaere, European Commission (EC) DG Environment, has provided an update of the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) “SafeManure” study, which aims to define criteria for allowing certain nitrogen fertilisers derived (wholly or partly) from manure to be not treated as ‘processed manure” under the Nitrates Directive (see ESPP eNews n°23). The study will include analysis and comparative testing of different fertilisers recovered from nutrients (identified to date: 86 materials from 7 sites in Italy, 11 in the Netherlands and 1 in Denmark, covering raw manure, solid/liquid fractions, digestate, reverse osmosis/mineral concentrates and nitrogen salts recovered from stripping). A review of existing literature has identified (to date) less than 20 relevant studies or reports, noting in particular a lack of data concerning the composition of processed manure products, nitrogen release kinetics, environmental and health issues and a lack of experimental evidence comparing nitrogen leaching or plant fertiliser effectiveness of recycled nutrient products to mineral fertilisers. In particular, comparative trials are lacking for recovered nitrogen salts and struvite. ESPP suggests that this is unsurprising: there is no reason to compare e.g. recovered ammonium sulphate with synthetic ammonium sulphate because it is the same chemical, and the many published tests on struvite do not look at the nitrogen release because struvite is a phosphate fertiliser. The project planning anticipates biogeochemical modelling and pot trials in Spring 2019, field tests in Spring and Autumn 2019 and a draft report and stakeholder workshop and 2019/early 2020.
Input of further data, existing studies and reports or material analysis are welcome. The full list of studies already submitted to and analysed by JRC is at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory DG ENVI slides, BioRefine ESNI conference Brussels 22 January www.biorefine.eu/esni-2019