Objectives and Methodology
Decrease European dependency on finite apatite-based phosphorus and energy-intensive mineral nitrogen fertiliser
Bio-based fertilisers (BBFs) have the potential to transform the agricultural industry by minimising the environmental impact of existing fertilisers and improving sustainability through recycling of nutrient-rich side-streams (NRSS). The overall objective of the project is to realise this potential by decreasing European dependency on finite and imported, apatite-based phosphorus (P) fertilisers and energy-intensive mineral nitrogen (N) fertiliser.
This will be achieved by developing a profound knowledge basis and new coherent methods to take full advantage of BBFs. For this purpose, LEX4BIO will focus on the most promising technologies for BBF production and evaluate their fertilisation potential and other properties against national and EU fertilisation requirements. This will provide essential tools for closing European nutrient cycles and contribute to ameliorating the impact of fertilisation on the environment.
Lex4bio commitments & objectives
Map regional distribution of NRSS available for producing BBF and assess their potential
Determine the risks related to food safety, human health and environmental losses after application of BBFs
Identify novel BBF for crop production & their effects on soil quality and crop growth
Assess the integrated ecological impacts over the entire lifecycle of the production and use of BBFs
Determine P fertiliser requirements and DEVELOP compliance methods for optimising BBF use
Determine the logistic costs, public perceptions and political actions required for optimal use of BBFs
Determine the agronomic N efficiency and on-site methods for optimising BBF use
Objectives and Methodological approach
MAP REGIONAL DISTRIBUTION OF NRSS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCING BBFs AND ASSESS THEIR POTENTIAL
Relevant NRSS (manures, sewage sludges and biowaste) in the EU will be determined by mapping and quantifying their fresh mass and average composition (especially nutrients) and presenting their geographical distribution with choropleth maps at the site of origin. Available national statistical data on NRSS will be collected and literature data on national balances and flow analyses assessed. To ensure effective use of data collected in other H2020 and Interreg projects, clustering will be facilitated via the fora of the Biorefine Cluster Europe and European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform.
Legal barriers for the production and use of BBFs in the EU (e.g. end-of-waste criteria, product licensing procedures) will be identified, and their importance for technology implementation and transfer and eventual mitigation actions in BBF use will be evaluated.
The potential of NRSS for replacing mineral N and P fertilisers will be evaluated against mineral fertilisers sold across the EU. Inter-regional and trans-boundary exchange of NRSS/BBFs between regions of intensive livestock and crop production, representing regions with extreme nutrient imbalances, will be evaluated in case studies.
IDENTIFY NOVEL BBFs FOR CROP PRODUCTION & THEIR EFFECTS ON SOIL QUALITY AND CROP GROWTH
Selected BBFs to be studied in LEX4BIO can be divided into three main groups: i) mineral BBFs, ii) organo- mineral BBFs and iii) organic BBFs. They will include at least struvites, biochars and ashes (STRUBIAS), or combinations of BBFs, e.g. nutrient-enriched biochars (co-composting or coformulation).
The potential effect of BBFs on soil quality and carbon sequestration will be evaluated by thorough review of literature and supplemented with analysis of samples from existing medium to long term field experiments, in order to link the impact of BBF use on a range of soil quality parameters, such as soil organic C, pH and water-holding capacity.
Effect of selected BBFs on soil parameters and crop growth will be studied in a two-year pot trial, using soil with low N, P and organic matter content, ensuring yield response after application of BBFs.
DETERMINE P FERTILISER REQUIREMENTS AND DEVELOP COMPLIANCE METHODS FOR OPTIMISING BBF USE
The short-term agronomic P efficiency of BBFs will be determined in different climatic and cropping systems in Northern, Central and Southern Europe, followed by the residual effect of BBFs on the following crops.
Appropriate compliance methods for predicting agronomic efficiency will be proposed. For increasing self-sufficiency of P fertilisers in the EU, actual mineral P fertiliser replacement potential will be determined based on crop requirement and environmental losses through leaching. P-containing BBFs to be tested will be selected from the prioritised list of BBFs produced through the diffusion of a questionnaire, and should represent the different main types of products as described above: a) mineral type BBFs b) organo-mineral type fertilisers supplemented with P, and c) organic BBFs.
DETERMINE THE AGRONOMIC N EFFICIENCY AND ON-SITE METHODS FOR OPTIMISING BBF USE
A series of field trials across varying European climatic zones and cropping systems will be used to determine the crop N use efficiency of field applied BBFs and develop and validate methods and assays for quantifying the bioavailable N fraction in BBFs.
Potential N losses to the aquatic and atmospheric environment from the use of BBFs will be modelled using the state-of-the-art soil-plant-atmosphere model Daisy. The N-containing BBFs to be tested will be selected from the prioritised list of BBF produced through the collection of answers from a questionnaire, and should represent the different main types of products, namely a) recovered mineral N in solution or solids b) organo-mineral N liquid mixtures and solids, and c) mainly organic N solids.
DETERMINE THE RISKS RELATED TO FOOD SAFETY, HUMAN HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL LOSSES AFTER APPLICATION OF BBFs
Organic and inorganic contaminants in BBFs are analysed together with the risks related to their use: persistency, bioavailability and fate in soil, heavy metal risks for human health, antibiotic resistance and eco-toxicological effects.
ASSESS THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS OVER THE ENTIRE LIFECYCLE OF THE PRODUCTION AND USE OF BBFs
Apart from performing a comparative LCA of BBFs, conventional mineral fertilisers and the current practise of using organic agricultural residues, a convention for future LCAs on BBFs to enable their comparison for non-experts will be established.
A review of previous LCA studies will be conducted. The benefits and flaws of the selected system boundaries, impact categories, time horizon for toxicity assessments and cumulative emission factors will be reviewed. A draft convention will be developed for making nutrient recycling LCAs comparable by directly consulting authors of other studies, database authors and project partners. After stipulating the jointly supported convention, the new LCA study will be conducted in close collaboration with process suppliers.
On the basis of the results of the present LCA study, existing LCAs will be re-interpreted, discussed and compared. The results will be provided for review by the Advisory Board and presented to a larger expert group in a workshop. Comments and proposals will be considered to create a consensual basis for the final proposal of the new convention.
DETERMINE THE LOGISTIC COSTS, PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS AND POLITICAL ACTIONS REQUIRED FOR OPTIMAL USE OF BBFs
The socioeconomic impacts and drivers and barriers related to BBF use will be evaluated. Optimal combination of processing, transport and use of BBFs regionally and inter-regionally will be assessed, as well as regulatory options for improving of fertiliser use and related policy recommendations.
Effect of fertilisation practices on economic indicators and on externalities will be evaluated in different settings and regions through literature mining, in depth interviews with stakeholders and with concerned third parties in selected hotspot regions covered by LEX4BIO. The real drivers and barriers guiding the use of BBFs will be analysed by including overall attitude towards BBFs among relevant stakeholders by using combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Recommendations for various treatment options will be determined with the existing partial equilibrium model for BBFs and manure.
The evidence-based policy recommendations for achieving higher use efficiency of BBFs and socioeconomic improvements for the rural population will be developed with the use of group discussion method and typology and classification methods.