A number of field experiments and demonstration pilots will examine the viability of using digestate, which is a by-product of the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, in a number of ways.

These include energy crop field trials, which will use the digestate to establish energy crops such as miscanthus and reed canary grass on brownfield sites across the UK. The trials will examine the effect on the yield and quality of the harvested crop, as well as cost impacts.

Field trials will also assess the use of the liquid fraction of digestate as a bio-fertiliser on sports turf such as golf course fairways and football pitches. They will compare the use of digestate against standard fertilisers and establish the practical and commercial impacts of using it.

Soil improvement and soil manufacture will also be explored, with a series of trials assessing whether digestate can be blended with other materials to manufacture or improve in-situ soils.

WRAP’s head of organics Ian Wardle said that it was important that new markets were found for the AD by-product.

He said: “These trials will provide evidence to support the use of digestate in landscape and regeneration applications, giving users the information and confidence they need to consider using the material in the future.”

The two-year trials will run until March 2014 alongside WRAP’s digestate and compost in agriculture project, a four-year research project looking at the use of digestate and compost in agriculture. Interim results will be published in 2013.

Maxine Perella

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