Advanced processing of food waste based digestate for mitigating nitrogen losses in a winter wheat crop

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Sanchez-Rodriguez, A. R., Carswell, A. M., Shaw, R., Hunt, J., Saunders, K. S., Cotton, J., Chadwick, D. R., Jones, D. and Misselbrook, T. H. 2018. Advanced processing of food waste based digestate for mitigating nitrogen losses in a winter wheat crop. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.

AuthorsSanchez-Rodriguez, A. R., Carswell, A. M., Shaw, R., Hunt, J., Saunders, K. S., Cotton, J., Chadwick, D. R., Jones, D. and Misselbrook, T. H.
Abstract

The anaerobic digestion of food waste converts waste products into ‘green’ energy. Additionally, the secondary product from this process is a nutrient-rich digestate, which could provide a viable alternative to synthetically-produced fertilisers. However, like fertilisers, digestate applied to agricultural land can be susceptible to both ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O) losses, having negative environmental impacts, and reducing the amount of N available for crop uptake. Our main aim was to assess potential methods for mitigating N losses from digestate applied to a winter wheat crop and subsequent impact on yield. Plot trials were conducted at two UK sites, England (North Wyke-NW) and Wales (Henfaes-HF), to assess NH3 and N2O losses, yield and N offtake following a single band-spread digestate application. Treatments examined were digestate (D), acidified-digestate (AD), digestate with the nitrification inhibitor DMPP (D+NI), AD with DMPP (AD+NI), and a zero-N control (C). Determination of N losses was conducted using wind tunnels for NH3, and static manual and automatic chambers for N2O. The N offtake in both grain and straw was also measured. Ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) fertiliser N response plots (from 75 to 300 kg N ha−1) were included to compare yields with the organic N source. Cumulative NH3-N losses were 27.6 % from D and D+NI plots and 1.5 % for AD and AD+NI of the total N applied, a significant reduction of 95 % with acidification. Cumulative N2O losses varied between 0.13 and 0.35 % of the total N applied and were reduced by 50 % with the use of DMPP. Grain yields for the digestate treatments were 7.52 – 9.21 and 7.23 – 9.23 t DM ha−1 at HF and NW, respectively. Yields were greater from the plots receiving acidified‐digestate relative to the non-acidified treatments but the differences were not significant. The yields (as a function of the N applied with each treatment) obtained for the digestate treatments ranged between 84.2 % (D+NI) and 103.6 % (D) of the yields produced by the same N rate from an inorganic source at HF. Advanced processing of digestate reduced N losses providing an environmentally sound option for N-management.

KeywordsAmmonia volatilization; Greenhouse gas emissions; Biogas; N2O emissions; Nitrogen use efficiency - NUE
Year of Publication2018
JournalFrontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.3389/fsufs.2018.00035
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBBSRC Newton funding
Funder project or codeUK - China Virtual Joint Centre for Improved Nitrogen Agronomy (CINAG)
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online17 Jul 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted18 Jun 2018
PublisherFrontiers Media SA
Copyright licenseCC BY
ISSN2571-581X
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