DC-Agri project (digestate & compost in agriculture)
The DC-Agri project is a four year research project looking at the use of quality anaerobic digestate (biofertiliser) and compost in agriculture, integrated with an extensive knowledge exchange network*. The project is funded jointly by Defra, WRAP, WRAP Cymru and Zero Waste Scotland.
Recycling organic materials
Using quality digestate and compost in agriculture can improve soil fertility and provides valuable plant nutrients.
The DC-Agri project will gather data which will enable these materials to be used more efficiently by farmers, helping to control costs and improve production.
Digestate is a valuable source of available plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen, but the rate at which nitrogen is released for uptake by crops is not well understood. This research will generate robust data on crop available nitrogen supply from digestate, enabling farmers to include digestate in nutrient management plans with confidence and maximise their potential to displace manufactured fertilisers. Utilising the nutrients in digestate and compost to grow crops will reconnect nutrient cycles and improve the efficient use of resources, particularly from the energy intensive manufacture of nitrogen fertilisers and the mining of phosphate from non-renewable resources.
Composts are recognised as a valuable source of organic matter and the experiments will measure the impact of their use on soil organic carbon, soil health and soil physical properties, including water holding capacity, soil stability and soil strength. The sustainability of UK agricultural production is dependent on the long-term maintenance of soil function and fertility which are key aspects of soil quality.
A vital objective of the DC-Agri project is to make the research results accessible to farmers and growers. A strong programme of knowledge exchange is being developed to deliver this through guidance tools, events and learning materials. A large number of agricultural colleges are directly involved, to provide both current and future farmers with the knowledge and skills to maximise the potential of quality digestate and compost to benefit their gross margins and the environment.