Renewable fertiliser update to drive green farming

The UK farming industry is set to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable with the publication of an updated specification for renewable fertiliser and the re-launch of the Compost Certification Scheme.

The PAS 110 specification has been updated to allow operators of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants to use or trade their digestate as ‘biofertiliser’, certified under the Biofertiliser Certification Scheme (BSC) from Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd (REAL).

Instead of just being deemed equivalent to cow slurry, the stability criteria of digestate has been opened up to reflect equivalence to other organic materials commonly spread to land, such as pig slurry. It is hoped that this will enable a greater number of AD operators to achieve BCS certification without any negative impact on quality or safety.

“Everyone involved in AD has learned a lot about digestate as the industry has developed,” said REAL’s chief executive Virginia Graham. “Working closely with industry, we have used these lessons to improve the PAS 110 for producers, end-users and the environment. The changes announced today mean that more AD operators will be able to use or trade their digestate as certified biofertiliser, whilst environmental protections will be stronger than before.”

Biofertiliser benefits

Biofertiliser has substantial environmental benefits; restoring much-needed nutrients, water and organic matter to the soil; offsetting imports of finite, high-carbon mineral fertiliser; and helping to keep food waste out of landfill, where it would otherwise decay and release methane into the atmosphere.

Fifteen AD plants across the UK are currently producing home-grown, BCS-certified biofertiliser. With the updated PAS 110 now in operation, the volume and quality of certified biofertiliser looks set to increase significantly.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) recently published the below video which details the benefits of biofertiliser for farmers and the environment.

WRAP’s head of food resource management Ian Wardle said: “With the increasing need to deliver sustainable markets for digestate, WRAP has worked closely with the other PAS110 steering group members to ensure that the revised specification continues to deliver a safe, quality-driven product.”

Certified compost

Meanwhile, farmers that use and produce high-quality compost now have a new online resource to help them do business. The Compost Certification Scheme (CCS), formerly managed by the Association for Organics Recycling, has today been re-launched by REAL with a new website, new logo and updated scheme rules.

Certified compost tends to sell for a better price on the market as consumers know it’s a high quality product that they can spread to land without having to pay for waste-handling controls or environmental permits.

The re-launched CCS website – – is designed to make it easier for producers to find the information they need to gain and maintain certification under the CCS, with 70 pages of rules condensed down to just 30 pages plus technical annexes.

Luke Nicholls

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