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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022 hybrid online and Vienna, Austria

EU consultations
EU consultation on nutrient management (INMAP)
EU consultation on sustainable food production
EU consultation on Environmental Liability
EU consultation on Waste Framework Directive and food waste

ESPP new members
Borealis L.A.T. will present cooperation with Vienna on P recycling at ESPC4
VaLoo: the newly founded Circular Sanitation Network Switzerland

Call for abstracts
7th Sustainable Phosphorus Summit (SPS7) 1 – 4 November 2022, North Carolina

EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP)
EU Commission workshop says current nutrient policies not sufficient

Policy
EU reaffirms intention to act on contaminants in phosphate fertilisers
EU communication on food systems resilience and war in Europe
United Nations resolutions recognise global phosphorus challenge
EU proposes progress on ashes from Animal By-Products (ABPs), inc. Cat1 ash

Research
‘Our Phosphorus Future’ report published 9th June
Overview of global P sustainability questions
Data shows no significant impacts of phosphorus intake on health
Nitrogen Use Efficiency for European farms varies from 17% to 75%

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

espc4 enews 58 2

ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022 hybrid online and Vienna, Austria

Nearly 300 participants are now confirmed for Vienna and online, 20-22 June, for ESPC4 (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference), PERM (Phosphorus Research in Europe Meeting) site visit and young researchers networking event.

If you can’t make it to Vienna, register to participate online, now.

All plenary sessions and 4 (of 12) parallel sessions will be online (see programme).

We will be using SWAPCARD to enable contacts and networking between all online and in-person participants (accessible after registration only), one chat & forum for the whole event enabling questions, discussion and exchange of information, as well as your own profile, programme, access to session recordings after the event …

Confirmed speakers include the European Commission (DG Environment, DG GROW, DG Research, CINEA), international organisations, leading companies, scientists and stakeholders.

Registration: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

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EU consultations

 

EU consultation on nutrient management (INMAP)

eu consultation news 67Public consultation, open to 15th August 2022, asks for opinions and proposals on nutrient policies, fiscal and regulatory tools, and on nutrient recycling. General questions ask for input on which impacts of nutrient pollution are important, different actors involved and links to other environmental challenges, including climate. Input is requested on what should be the key actions and policy tools (e.g. fiscal policy, financial incentives …), consumer actions (e.g. dietary choices) and whether INMAP should address nutrients other than N and P. A section on nutrient recycling asks to identify obstacles to recycling (e.g. cost, regulation, contaminants …) and priority actions to support nutrient recycling (e.g. targets, taxes, enforcement of legislation …). Supporting documents or proposals can be submitted. See summary of INMAP workshop below. INMAP will be presented at ESPC4, 20-22 June, register now online.

EU public consultation on INMAP, “Nutrients – action plan for better management”, open to 15th August 2022, HERE.

 

EU consultation on sustainable food production

EU public consultation, open to 21st July 2022, “Sustainable EU food system – new initiative”. See ESPP eNews n°66 and HERE.

 

EU consultation on Environmental Liability

“Environmental Liability Directive (evaluation)”, public consultation (questionnaire) to 4th August 2022. See ESPP eNews n°66 and HERE.

 

EU consultation on Waste Framework Directive and food waste

Public consultation, open to 16th August 2022, asks for opinions objectives and possible policies for waste reduction, recycling and reuse, food waste, separate collection. Questions address opinions on general consumer behaviour concerning waste prevention and waste management and links to product purchasing, priorities, separate collection of different household wastes and consumer sorting, tools such as producer responsibility or economic incentives. Specifically for food waste, question concern policy priorities, stakeholders, obstacles to food waste reduction and possible policies to reduce food waste, including surplus food redistribution, packaging, best-by dates, monitoring, education or fiscal incentives, legally binding waste reduction or reuse targets,   

EU public consultation, open to 16th August 2022, “on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive”. One consultation with two different access pages: “Food waste – reduction targets” HERE and “Environmental impact of waste management – revision of EU waste framework” HERE.

 

 

 

ESPP new members

 

Borealis L.A.T. will present cooperation with Vienna on P recycling at ESPC4

Regional wastewater treatment plants and regional fertilizer manufacturers in cooperation: closing the cycle in nutrient management.

lat news 67Borealis L.A.T. operates combined NPK and calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser plants at its location in Linz, Austria. The highly efficient Odda process (nitrophosphoric acid route) is designed to use more than 100,000 tons of secondary lime avoiding waste and unnecessary by-product creation. Borealis L.A.T. has entered into a nutrient recovery partnership with Vienna municipality. In a multi-partner cooperation, ash from sewage sludge mono-incineration will be used as raw material providing value able recovered phosphor for high quality fertiliser production.  Successful large scale technical trials show that the ash can be used in product of high quality fertilisers, and that logistics are safe. Challenges remain in the regulatory approval process and appropriate go-to-market approaches for recovered nutrient products.

Borealis L.A.T is a well-known partner of European agriculture, together with millions of farmers constantly striving for better yields and higher quality crops at reduced ecological footprint. Based on the concept of Nitrogen Use Efficiency, Borealis L.A.T provides farmers with directly plant-available fertilizers and digital services for  efficient use of  plant nutrients, like NutriGuide® -  fertilisation planning according to crop rotation principles and actual nutrient requirements; NutriZones®  - precise, site-specific nitrogen spreading based on satellite maps; N-Pilot ® -  measuring plot-specific nitrogen demand and delivering fertilisation advice within a few minutes.

https://www.borealis-lat.com/

 

VaLoo: the newly founded Circular Sanitation Network Switzerland .

valoo news 67VaLoo is the newly founded circular sanitation network Switzerland. The network exists of startups, companies, researchers, farmers and individuals that dream of a world where VALue is created form what normally ends up in the LOO. VaLoo’s members collaborate to promote and facilitate the implementation of resource - oriented sanitation in Switzerland. In recent years, many innovative solutions are being tested and implemented that can recover nutrients from toilets for save reuse in agriculture. In order for these technologies to scale up and fl­ourish, fertilizer regulations must include human excreta as a component material category(CMC) for fertilizers. Through our expertise, we hope to add to the ESPP mission for sustainable cycling of phosphorus as well as other nutrients via circular sanitation.

www.va-loo.ch

 

 

Call for abstracts

7th Sustainable Phosphorus Summit (SPS7)
1 – 4 November 2022, North Carolina

week_enews_67.pngSPS is the world academic and research conference on phosphorus sustainability, and will take place with the US phosphorus Week (US SPA, STEPS), 1-4 November 2022.

Call for abstracts for SPS open to 15th July 2022.

Previous SPS have taken place in Brazil 2018 (SPS6), China 2016 (SPS5), France 2014 (SPS4, see SCOPE108), Australia 2012 (SPS3, see SCOPE85), USA 2011 (SPS2) and Sweden 2010. Co-hosted by the STEPS Center (US Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability) and the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance, SPS7 (3-4 November 2022) and the US SPA annual Phosphorus Forum (1-2 November) in Raleigh, North Carolina

Call for abstracts HERE for Sustainable Phosphorus Summit 2022, US Phosphorus Week (1-4 November, North Carolina) including SPS7 and US SPA Phosphorus Forum: https://phosphorusalliance.org/phosphorus-forum/

 

 

EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP)

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EU Commission workshop says current nutrient policies not sufficient

Participants underlined that nutrient recycling is needed to address food and fertiliser security, and pointed to soil health, nutrient controls in the CAP, sewage recycling, and to dietary change as the primary driver for nutrient demand.

The European Commission workshop “Towards a Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook” (24-25 May 2022), included a half day on integrated nutrient assessment and INMAP (the EU’s proposed Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan), with around 20 participants in Brussels and around 130 online. The workshop discussed policies needed to achieve the EU Green Deal (Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategies) target to reduce nutrient losses by -50% by 2030, and monitoring and indicators needed to support this target for decision makers, industry and stakeholders.

Joachim d’Eugenio, Jeanne De Jaegher, Christophe Didion and Andrea Vettori, European Commission DG Environment, reminded that INMAP aims to define and engage actions, across all EU policies and with Member States, to achieve the Green Deal objective of reducing nutrient losses by 50% by 2030. The EU’s nitrogen and phosphorus emissions currently exceed the European share of the Planetary Boundaries by x 3.3 and x 2 respectively. The war in Europe and its impacts on fertiliser supply, phosphate rock resource supply and food affordability, increase pressure (see the Commission communication on “Safeguarding food security”, 23/3/2022, summarised below). DG Environment pointed to the public consultation on INMAP open to 15th August 2022, indicating that input is looked for on which policies and actions are need and on defining priorities.

INMAP will address:

  • integrated approach on nutrient pollution encompassing air, water, soil and climate
  • sustainable application of nutrients
  • nutrient pollution at source
  • sustainability of agriculture and other sectors
  • nutrient pollution hotspots and livestock production
  • nutrient recycling
  • shortcomings in specific legislations on nutrients and implementation gaps

Andrea Vettori will present the proposed EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP) and answer participants’ questions at ESPC4, 20-22 June, register here https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

Bruna Grizzetti and Diego Macias Moy, European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), presented the wide range of work underway in JRC modelling nutrient losses and possible reductions in losses achievable through different policy options.

JRC estimates that around 50% of nitrogen (N) and 40% of phosphorus (P) entering the food production system in the EU is lost to the environment (in both cases, around 10% of inputs ends up in food waste). Grizzetti et al. 2021 (see ESPP eNews n°55) concluded that implementation of current EU policies could reduce N losses to European seas by -14% and P losses by -20% only, that is not achieving the Green Deal -50% target. Modelling underway suggests that additional N and P reduction are possible with additional measures. Recycling of phosphorus could cover 25% of agricultural inputs, so making a significant contribution to the Green Deal nutrient reduction target by transferring phosphorus from regions with excess (livestock production) to regions with crop needs, but this is estimated at only 10% for nitrogen.

For nitrogen, modelling suggests that a reduction of N fertiliser application in N-surplus regions and an increase in regions with low soil N would result in a 6-7 % reduction in EU total fertiliser consumption and N losses with no overall loss to production. Enhanced implementation of sewage treatment could reduce N loses by 8%, climate policies under Fit-for-55 (N losses to air) by 11% and ambitious agricultural policies by 11%.

JRC underlines that even such ambitious scenarios for application of existing EU policies, taken together, remain inadequate to achieve the Green Deal -50% loss reduction target. Action is therefore needed on dietary change, extending Organic Farming and connecting livestock to crop production, with a food security aim of zero import of animal feed.

JRC noted that nutrient reductions and policy applications need to be region-specific. Concern was also expressed that reducing nitrogen losses more than phosphorus losses could lead to blue-green cyanobacteria blooms (replacing diatoms).

Ian Marnane, European Environment Agency, proposed for discussion various indicators for monitoring nutrient management, based on existing data sources, including algal blooms, nutrient levels in surface waters and Water Framework Directive quality status, consumption of mineral fertilisers, ammonia losses to air from agriculture and other sectors (Emissions Ceilings Directive). He noted the need to also develop cross-cutting indicators, concerning nutrients in food, health and ecosystems (to be defined).

Participants suggested that indicators should specifically address recycling, for example using Circular Economy and Critical Raw Materials indicators, see the EEA report “Sewage sludge and the circular economy”, May 2021, in ESPP eNews n°58. Roll-out of more efficient fertilisers offers potential, e.g. with nitrification inhibitors. The interest of the existing Nitrogen Use Efficiency indicator (EU Nitrogen Expert Panel 2015) was noted, with the question how to extend this to Phosphorus Use Efficiency?.

The need to harmonise Member State reporting on nutrients (agriculture, sewage, industry) was underlined by The Netherlands. The European Commission noted that some Member States are not reporting nutrients to Eurostat, and that it will be proposed to make this reporting obligatory.

In workshop discussion, the importance of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was emphasised. DG Environment indicated that although the proposed “FaST” (Farm Sustainability Tool for Nutrients, that is calculation of farm nutrient balances) has not been made obligatory for all farms, it is part of the CAP Advisory Service (see revised CAP 2021/2115 art. 15(4)g) and is now available online. Member States’ CAP Strategic Plans will be required to be “Green Deal” conform (including the -50% overall EU nutrient loss reduction target). Also, farm nutrient balances will be progressively required for all farms in Nitrates Directive ‘Vulnerable Areas’ under Nitrates Directive Implementation Programmes. ESPP notes that this raises the question of whether balances will also be required for phosphorus?

Discussion emphasised the importance of reducing contaminants at source in sewage sludge, to facilitate nutrient recycling, and the potential for phosphorus recycling from animal by-products (in particular, meat and bone meal ash), whilst guaranteeing safety. DG Environment indicated that the revision of the Sewage Sludge Directive (see ESPP eNews n°51) aims to reduce pollutants both at source entering sewage and going to agricultural land, in coordination with other EU actions (such as the proposed Green Deal ban of PFAS/PFOS Directive, see ESPP eNews n°49). Discussions are also engaged to possibly reduce the 50 mg/l nitrates limit in drinking water (EU Drinking Water Directive 98/83).

Participants also discussed how to develop nutrient recycling. Anders Finnson, Swedish Water and Eureau, asks for a “recycled nutrient quota” in fertilisers placed on the market, to drive demand for secondary nutrients. Cecilia Dardes, Fertilizers Europe, indicated that the industry is favourable to nutrient recycling, that around half of nutrient inputs to EU agriculture are already recycled (especially manure) but that around half of our food production is dependent on mineral fertiliser inputs.

For Liisa Pietola, MTK Finland and Copa-Cogeca, farmers need recycled fertilisers which they can use efficiently, which are compatible with their existing spreading equipment and which do not contain substances which may harm soil ecology.

The European Commission DG Environment concluded the workshop by underlining the need to identify economic and efficient actions, by improving resource efficiency for nutrients, crucial in the current context of food insecurity. The link to soil health was emphasised, and the proposed EU Soil Health Directive (EU consultation March 2022, see ESPP eNews n°64) will address the functions of soil for food production, biodiversity, air and water quality.

DG Environment also underlined the importance of the Member States’ CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) Strategic Plans and the objective fixed for INMAP in the Zero Pollution Action Plan (SWD(2021)140 - SWD(2021)141) to use “the green architecture of the new common agricultural policy, especially via conditionality and eco-schemes” to address nutrients. The Commission will require Member States to define their own nutrient targets in their CAP Strategic Plans.

ESPP notes that the revised CAP conditions payments to farmers on respect of certain specific points (regarding water use and phosphate and nitrate pollution) of the Water Framework Directive 2000/60 and of the Nitrates Directive 91/676 (revised CAP 2021/2115 Annex III, SMRs [Statutory Management Requirements] 1, 2, 8) as well as requiring that Member States’ CAP Strategic Plans should “contribute to and be consistent with” these two Directives.

The European commission concluded with the need to go across silos, to work with stakeholders in different sectors, with Member States and Commission Expert Groups, and with the importance of input to the currently open public consultation open to 15th August 2022, HERE.

EU Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop, 24-25 May 2022, including session on Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP), documents, presentations, etc HERE.

EU public consultation on INMAP, “Nutrients – action plan for better management”, open to 15th August 2022, HERE.

 

 

Policy

 

EU reaffirms intention to act on contaminants in phosphate fertilisers

The European Commission’s chemicals “Restrictions Roadmap” includes a proposed restriction under REACH of “Substances in fertilisers”, targeting e.g. contaminants in phosphate fertilisers. This Roadmap is part of the Green Deal Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and “prioritises group restrictions for the most harmful substances to human health and the environment”. The possible group restriction of “Substances in fertilisers” is indicated as pending discussion on the recent European Commission study (the ARCADIS report on risks of contaminants in fertilisers, July 2021, see ESPP eNews n°61) and possibly including “contaminants in phosphate fertilisers” and “other substances intentionally used in fertilisers”. Substances targeted also include PFAS (as a “group”), which is important to reduce these in sewage sludge where they are an obstacle to reuse / recycling (see e.g. “Swedish Water calls for ban on all PFAS chemicals” in ESPP eNews n°66).

“Sustainable Chemicals: The Commission advances work on restrictions of harmful chemical substances”, European Commission 25th April 2022 HERE and SWD 2022 128 (25th April 2022) “Restrictions Roadmap under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability” HERE.

 

EU communication on food systems resilience and war in Europe

The European Commission recognises EU dependence on imported fertiliser, and the global fertiliser and food price crisis, and points to the need to optimise fertiliser use and develop nutrient recycling. The Communication indicates that the Common Agricultural Policy, through Member States’ Strategic Plans, should support practices to optimise fertiliser efficiency, so reducing their use. Dependency of mineral nitrogen fertiliser production on natural gas should be addressed, through “clean hydrogen” and “green ammonia”. Import dependency for phosphate and potassium is identified as a concern and actions to recover and reuse nutrients from manures, by-products, residues and wastes will be supported (e.g. EU Bioeconomy Strategy, Horizon Europe Circular Bio-based Europe partnership).

“Address by Mr Janusz Wojciechowski 23 March 2022 HERE.

“European Commission Communication "Safeguarding food security and reinforcing the resilience of food systems" COM(2022)133, 23rd May 2022 HERE.

 

United Nations resolutions recognise global phosphorus challenge

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has again noted the importance of phosphorus in global water pollution and food security, but so far has not engaged action. In 2019 already (see ESPP eNews n°33), UNEA (part of UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme) recognised that crop production and food security are dependent on nutrient resources and proposed to support sharing of information concerning nutrient recycling. The 2nd March 2022 resolution of UNEA on Sustainable Nitrogen Management expresses “concern that excessive levels of nutrients, in particular reactive nitrogen and phosphorus, have a significant impact on species composition in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems …” and recognises that “global crop and livestock production and food security depend on using nutrients sustainably and decreasing nutrient waste, including nitrogen and phosphorus”. The 2022 resolution proposes the development of national action plans for sustainable nitrogen management and development of the UNEP Working Group on Nitrogen, but does not propose actions on phosphorus or other nutrients.

UNEA (UNEP) resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, adopted 2nd March 2022 HERE.

 

EU proposes progress on ashes from Animal By-Products (ABPs), inc. Cat1 ash

The European Commission has written to ESPP that inclusion into the EU Fertilising Products Regulation of ashes from manure and certain other ABPs is underway, and that assessment of safety of Category 1 ash will be engaged. ESPP submitted written questions to the European Commissioners for Health and Food Safety (SANTE) and for the Internal Market (GROW). The answer from the Director General of DG SANTE states inclusion of ash from (co-)combustion of manure and certain other Category 2 and Category 3 Animal By-Products is under discussion with Member States (it is ESPP’s understanding that a proposed text will be presented at the Animal Health Advisory Committee meeting of 7th June). DG SANTE also writes that a mandate is under preparation to request an EFSA Opinion on the safety of Category 1 ABP ashes, preparatory to a possible regulatory text to allow use of this ash in fertilisers.

ESPP is therefore interested to receive any data, reports, references of studies or publications concerning the sanitary safety of ash from (co-)combustion of Category 1 Animal By-Products (elimination of pathogens, in particular of prions).

Animal By-Product ash in fertilisers, including Cat1 ABP ash: ESPP letter of 25th April 2022 and DG SANTE reply of 30th May 2022 online at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Research

 

‘Our Phosphorus Future’ report published 9th June

This project has engaged over 80 scientists and experts worldwide to develop a global report on P sustainability challenges, and aims to provide the evidence base for global action. Our Phosphorus Future was supported by the United Nations Environment Fund (UNEP) and ESPP. A call for a global science initiative on phosphorus was launched at the 3rd European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC3, Helsinki, 2018) with over 500 signatories. Chapters of the Our Phosphorus Future report address phosphate resources and uses, food and agriculture systems and consumption, water quality, recycling and recovering. The report’s thematic chapters have been circulated for review to the 80+ chapter authors and to further stakeholders and experts including the UNEP GPNM (Global Panel for Nutrient Management), members of ESPP and members of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance North America. Over 80 pages of comments were received, reviewed by CEH, and then proposed changes validated by each chapter’s authors and, where useful, with consultation of other experts. An overview of the questions addressed in the ‘Our Phosphorus Future’ (OPF) report was already published in Nature Food, February 2021, see below. The conclusions of Our Phosphorus Future will be presented and discussed at ESPC4 Vienna 20-22 June 2022.

ESPP has contributed financially to the ‘Our Phosphorus Future’ project (OPF): the report is independent and represents the views of the authors, not of ESPP. Future Our Phosphorus Future website after launch on 9th June 2022 www.opfglobal.com

 

Overview of global P sustainability questions

A short article in Nature Food outlines key global issues of phosphorus sustainability, covering agriculture, water quality, food production and consumption, waste management, recycling, phosphate rock resources. The 3 page overview underlines that despite the known environmental challenges around phosphorus (planetary boundaries, eutrophication and harmful algal blooms), which are likely to be accentuated by climate change, phosphorus remains still largely absent from global intergovernmental agendas. Some targets are however now being considered, for example the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework working group proposed the target to reduce pollution from excess nutrients by 50% by 2030. This is now taken up by the EU Green Deal (Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity strategies) which fix the target of reducing nutrient losses by 50% by 2030 (see SCOPE Newsletter n°139). The UN Framework for Freshwater Ecosystem Management (2018, vol. 4) provides information to support countries in setting freshwater phosphorus standards. The Nature Food article underlines that issues are highly region-specific: in Africa, current trends of insufficient phosphorus fertiliser use could lead to 30% crop yield losses by 2050, whereas in other regions “excess fertiliser application is threatening water quality”. Actions to address these challenges are indicated, including reducing consumption of animal products in diets, phosphorus recycling (noting the need for regulatory and economic policy to support this), optimising livestock diet phosphorus and its uptake (e.g. phytase), addressing “legacy phosphorus” in soils and sediments, improving phosphorus efficiency of crops, better fertiliser distribution in poorer countries, public awareness and phosphorus footprinting, as well as actions to reduce impacts of algal blooms.

“Global actions for a sustainable phosphorus future”, W. Brownlie et al., Nature Food, vol. 2, Feb. 2021, 71-74 DOI.

 

Data shows no significant impacts of phosphorus intake on health

Analysis of US national data shows no meaningful associations between phosphorus intake and mortality and limited correlations with cholesterol, kidney markers or (lower) blood pressure. US NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data were analysed from the 1988-1994 through to 2001-2006 surveys. This survey includes test data on relevant biomarkers, such as blood levels of phosphorus, kidney-function markers, cholesterol and blood pressure, mortality and cardio-vascular disease data, and also a diet questionnaire. Natural and additive (food additive) phosphorus intakes were estimated from the diet questionnaire result using a commercial market database of food ingredients. Variables such as age, exercise were statistically compensated. Data from 12 000 to 36 000 participants was analysed depending of data availability for different factors. Total diet phosphorus increased from 1.3 to 1.4 gP/person per day over the period, despite a decrease in food additive phosphorus (from 0.18 to 0.16 gP/person/day). Total diet P was associated with increased blood phosphorus, but “No meaningful associations” between total diet phosphorus and mortality were found. Added phosphates were associated with small increases in creatinine (a kidney-function marker protein) and small decreases in HDL-cholesterol (of which reduced levels are a negative health indicator). Total diet phosphorus was inversely correlated to reduced blood pressure and slightly to total blood cholesterol. The authors suggest that phosphorus may reduce blood pressure by increasing parathyroid hormone levels. The authors note that natural phosphorus in food and phosphorus in food additives appear to have disparate health effects and recommend that better information is needed on phosphorus food additive levels in diet, further research is needed to better understand possible differing health impacts of natural and added phosphates, and that regulators should consider defining different dietary specifications for natural and for food additive phosphorus in diets.

“Association of Total, Added, and Natural Phosphorus Intakes with Biomarkers of Health Status and Mortality in Healthy Adults in the United States”, K. Fulgoni et al., Nutrients 2022, 14, 1738 HERE.

 

Nitrogen Use Efficiency for European farms varies from 17% to 75%

Study of 1 240 farms of different types across Europe shows mean NUE (Nitrogen Use Efficiency) adjusted for externalisations from <20 % for dairy to > 60% for arable, with top quartile of arable achieving 75% NUE. Externalisation takes into account N used in production of imported animal feed and N losses related to exported manure. These levels of NUE correspond to a mean N “emission intensity” of around 3, ranging from below 1 to 8 for dairy farms (calculated as N surplus / N output).Arable farms mostly show N emission intensity 0.5 – 1.5, but with a few farms up to 8. This corresponds to median N surpluses of around 70 kgN/ha for arable and 155 kgN/ha for dairy farms. Pig farms are considerably more N efficient than dairy, but still around twice as inefficient as arable. The authors suggest “modest targets” for NUE of 19% for dairy, 23% for pig farms, and 61% for arable, these being the current median. This would (by definition) imply improvement for half of existing farms, but ESPP suggests it is highly unambitious and that a more appropriate target would be the Q1 (lowest 25% of farms), which is not significantly lower for livestock but is 25% lower for arable (17%, 21%, 45%).

“Exploring nitrogen indicators of farm performance among farm types across several European case studies”, M. Quemeda et al., Agricultural Systems, vol. 177, Jan. 2020, 102689 DOI.

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/           

Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
 

ESPP members

espp members

 

 

Public consultation, open to 26th August 2022, asks for opinions and proposals on nutrient policies, fiscal and regulatory tools, and on nutrient recycling. General questions ask for input on which impacts of nutrient pollution are important, different actors involved and links to other environmental challenges, including climate. Input is requested on what should be the key actions and policy tools (e.g. fiscal policy, financial incentives …), consumer actions (e.g. dietary choices) and whether INMAP should address nutrients other than N and P. A section on nutrient recycling asks to identify obstacles to recycling (e.g. cost, regulation, contaminants …) and priority actions to support nutrient recycling (e.g. targets, taxes, enforcement of legislation …). Supporting documents or proposals can be submitted.

EU public consultation on INMAP, “Nutrients – action plan for better management”, open to 26th August 2022, HERE.

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews066
Download as PDF

 

ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022

Looking for research support for literature search tasks

“Legacy Phosphorus” in soils: SCOPE Special published

EU tenders, consultations, meetings
EU tender to develop guidance for EU Fertilising Products technical documentation
EU online information meeting on Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) implementation
EU consultation on circular economy monitoring
EU consultation on sustainable food production
EU consultation on Environmental Liability

Policy
Update: P-recovery in proposed EU green investment list (“Taxonomy”)
ESPP pushes nitrogen recovery in Waste Gas BAT BREF
Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) revision targets Circular Economy
European Commission not positive on “RENURE”
EFSA paper on research on food & feed safety and the Circular Economy
Scientists say EU needs a “nutrient directive”
Swedish Water calls for ban on all PFAS chemicals
US 250 M$ funding for “American-made”, innovative fertiliser investments
US EPA aims to accelerate actions against eutrophication

Research
“Roadmap” for new nutrient sources for Organic Farming
Higher P fertiliser needed to achieve Sustainable Development goals
Perspectives for sewage nutrient recycling in Austria
P-recovery headed to replace nearly half of German mineral P fertiliser use
Recycling P from fish processing waste to fish feed
Scenarios for future phosphorus demand for batteries
Analysing contaminants in wastewater recovered materials
Phosphorus is most widely limiting nutrient on land

Stay informed


ESPP members

 

ESPC4 and PERM 20-22 June 2022

 

espc4 enews 58 2

Updated programmes, including speakers for parallel sessions and posters, are now online for ESPC4 (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference) and PERM (Phosphorus Research in Europe Meeting), plus site visit and young researchers networking event, 20-22 June 2022, Vienna, Austria. Nearly 200 participants are already registered. Make sure YOU don’t miss the first major international meeting on sustainable nutrients since the start of Covid, with the European Commission and international organisations, leading companies, scientists and stakeholders. Networking tools will ensure information sharing, contacts and exchange between participants. Register now. Capacity is limited to 300.

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

Looking for research support for literature search tasks

 

ESPP is looking for researchers to carry out, in coming 3-6 months, paid, one-off literature search – analysis tasks on nitrogen recovery and on safety of animal by-product ashes. Offers are welcome for one or both of these two separate tasks from research students, institutes, individuals or other organisations. Offers are requested (price, short outline of method and data bases to be used, CV and relevant knowledge) by 31st May 2022. Full details of tasks can be found on the ESPP website HERE.

“Legacy Phosphorus” in soils: SCOPE Special published

 

ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter Special Issue (with BOKU) on “Legacy Phosphorus” accumulation in agricultural soils, maintaining crop yields and minimising losses to water, is now published (download here). This SCOPE Newsletter Special outlines presentations and conclusions of the ESPP – BOKU webinar, 2nd February 2022, and summarises 19 selected key, recent scientific publications. Themes covered include: defining “Legacy P”, data and long-term trials, modelling the time needed for P “draw-down”, what is a “significant” reduction to crop yield?, phosphorus traps and management practices, agronomic recommendations, crop P efficiency, challenges of soil P testing.

ESPP – BOKU SCOPE Newsletter n°142 Special Issue (May 2022) “Legacy Phosphorus in agricultural soils: Maintaining crop yields and minimising losses to water” www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Scope142

 

 

EU tenders, consultations, meetings

 

 

EU tender to develop guidance for EU Fertilising Products technical documentation

The European Commission (DG GROW) has announced a tender (“low-value contracts procedure”) to support development of guidance for technical documentation for CE-mark products under the FPR. Deadline for submitting interest: 25th May 2022. The supplier will draft a proposed Guidance Document for elaboration of technical documentation necessary for Conformity Assessment of EU Fertilising Products under Regulation 2019/1009, intended for use by companies wishing to obtain the CE-mark for their products to place on the market, and also for Notified Bodies and market surveillance authorities.

European Commission “Ex-ante publicity of middle and low-value contracts” HERE or contact DG GROW.
Deadline for submitting interest: 25th May 202

 

 

EU online information meeting on Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) implementation

23rd May 2022 10h-17h online (registration deadline 16th May), European Commission (DG GROW) information event for companies, Member States and stakeholders on FPR implementation, inc. conformity assessment, REACH, transitional arrangements and harmonisation. Possibility to submit questions in advance to the European Commission using the registration form HERE: it is requested to check that questions are not already addressed in the Commission’s online “Frequently Asked Questions” document before submitting.

Registration (deadline 16th may 2022) HERE Meeting agenda and other information HERE (direct link).on CIRCA in the publicly available “Commission Expert Group on Fertilising Products” dossier.

 

 

EU consultation on circular economy monitoring

EU public consultation, open to 3rd June 2022, on indicators for monitoring EU circular economy policies, with the aim of updating the ten existing indicators here. The existing indicators are aluminium (EU self-sufficiency, end-of-life recycling rate); municipal waste generation and recycling rate; all non-mineral waste generation and recycling rate; food waste; recovery rates for packaging, e-waste and construction waste; overall circularity rate for all materials, trade in recyclable raw materials, private investment and jobs in circular economy, number of patents, green public procurement. The consultation document states as objectives new indicators will focus on areas of the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan (ESPP eNews n°42), in which “Food, water and nutrients” are one of seven targeted value chains, and on links between circular economy and climate and zero pollution policies. Objectives are also to develop material footprints. In all cases, indicators will be based on available data sources, from either official statistics or science.

ESPP will input to suggest that the following indicators should be added:

  • EU self-sufficiency and end-of-life recycling should be included for all EU CRMs (Critical Raw Materials, including ‘Phosphate Rock’ = P in any form, and ‘Phosphorus’ = white phosphorus - P4), as well as for aluminium (bauxite is a CRM). Data is collected by EU JRC for regular updates of the CRM list.
  • Reuse/recycling rate for resources in wastewater: nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), organic carbon, water – see recommendations of Preisner, Smol et al., 2022, in ESPP eNews n°64. Data should be available in Member State reporting for the Urban Waste Water Treatment and Sludge Directives.
  • Recycling rates for nutrients in agri-food waste. Food waste should be monitored not only in “tonnage” but also in nutrient content (see e.g. study by Nestlé and WRAP UK in ESPP eNews n°36). Food industry by-products, including slaughterhouse wastes and animal by-products, should also be included, because these are probably an overall more significant secondary resource than end-of-chain food waste.
  • Total losses of phosphorus to surface waters, as this is indicative of non-circularity and is also linked to climate change, in that climate change accentuates eutrophication but also eutrophication can lead to significant methane losses (see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°137). Data should be available through European Environment Agency statistics and Water Framework Directive Member State reporting.
  • % of nutrients applied to farmland coming from secondary sources versus mineral fertilisers (for phosphorus, nitrogen). Data should be available through Common Agricultural Policy nutrient farm balance reporting.
  • Levels of contaminants in secondary materials which pose obstacles to reuse and recycling, in particular PFAS in sewage sludge, pharmaceuticals in manure and in sewage sludge. Data is available in Water Framework Watch List monitoring and in science publications.
  • Phosphorus footprint of EU food production, indicative of final consumption of the CRM ‘Phosphate Rock’, of food-chain nutrient efficiency and of phosphorus recycling. Recognised methodologies exist, see e.g. phosphorus footprint of food in Brussels, Papangelou et al.2021 in ESPP eNews n°58.

EU public consultation, open to 3rd June 2022, “Circular economy monitoring framework - revision” HERE. Input is 4000 characters max text plus optional document upload.

 

 

 

 

EU consultation on sustainable food production

EU public consultation, open to 21st July 2022, on food sustainability and resilience. The declared objective is to develop a horizontal framework law on food systems to ensure an integrated food system approach. The Commission aims to address links between health, environment and food, including long-term food security, taking into account impacts on climate, biodiversity, rural livelihoods and competitivity, reductions in pesticide use and pressures on water, soil and air quality, animal welfare. The public questionnaire addresses aspects such as consumer information, costs and prices, standards, research, which stakeholders should be engaged, policy approaches, governance and which environmental and social aspects should be prioritised (including circularity, Q9). Specific questions address food sustainability information and labelling, public procurement of food for schools and public institutions, certain aspects of dietary choice (sugars, salt, saturated fats, red meat …), food advertising and marketing.

EU public consultation, open to 21st July 2022, “Sustainable EU food system – new initiative” HERE.

 

 

EU consultation on Environmental Liability

Public consultation to 4th August 2022 seeks input to the evaluation of the Environmental Liability Directive 2004/35/EC. Questions for the general public and specialist stakeholders seek views on objectives and priorities, effectiveness in supporting the polluter-pays principle and in preventing environmental damage, mandatory financial guarantees and insurance, implementation of the existing Environmental Liability Directive and interactions with national regulations, reporting and access to information, exemptions, applications to groups of companies and multinationals, cost effectiveness of the Directive.

“Environmental Liability Directive (evaluation)”, public consultation (questionnaire) to 4th August 2022 HERE.

 

 

 

Policy

 

Update: P-recovery in proposed EU green investment list (“Taxonomy”)

The final EU report on sustainable finance (the “Taxonomy”) continues to include ‘Phosphorus recovery from waste water’ as a listed technology eligible for green investment funding. This follows a public consultation on the draft report in September 2021. Technical corrections from ESPP’s input to this public consultation have been taken into account in the finalised report (clarifications regarding recovery routes, phosphate rock/white phosphorus as Critical Raw Materials, inclusion of reference to the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation …), but ESPP’s proposals for substantive changes have not been included. ESPP strongly welcomes that phosphorus recovery is included in the EU’s proposed list of some 60 economic activities eligible for green funding, but regrets that only recovery of phosphorus is considered (not e.g. nitrogen or potassium recovery), that only recovery from municipal waste water is included (not e.g. from manure, animal by-products or food waste). ESPP welcomes that the criteria have been somewhat widened to include recovery in the waste water treatment plant (wwtp), stating “mainly phosphate salts …”, with a minimum recovery rate of 15% of wwtp incoming P, or after incineration with a minimum 80% recovery from the input material (ash). ESPP welcomes that the recovered P must “be a material with a real market demand … ensuring its reasonable functional use”.

“Platform on Sustainable Finance’s report with recommendations on technical screening criteria for the four remaining environmental objectives of the EU taxonomy” 127 pages, and Annex 675 pages, published by the European Commission 30th March 2022 HERE.

 

ESPP pushes nitrogen recovery in Waste Gas BAT BREF

As a member of the EU Industrial Emissions Directive Forum, ESPP has made input to the draft update of the Common Waste Gas Management in the Chemical Sector Best Available Techniques document. The draft document shows that although abatement of ammonia and nitrogen / nitrous oxide emissions is widespread, recovery is today little implemented. ESPP has input that EMS (Environmental Management Systems) should identify recovery potential and opportunities in gaseous waste streams and possible technologies for recovery, reuse or recycling, in particular of nitrogen, as a function of technical feasibility and logistics (potential recovery quantity). ESPP notes that a range of recovery technologies exist including “scrubbing” and regenerative adsorption or precipitation. The European Commission has responded that recovery is already included through other channels in this BREF (in particular BAT4 which requires an “integrated waste strategy … including recovery”) and that the currently underway (see below) revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive aims to better align with circular economy and climate objectives.

“Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document for Common Waste Gas Management and Treatment Systems in the Chemical Sector”, draft for update https://eippcb.jrc.ec.europa.eu/reference/

 

Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) revision targets Circular Economy

The European Commission has published the legislative proposal for the IED which fixes environmental requirements for permitted installations in Europe. Key proposals include Circular Economy objectives, and widening to livestock. The Industrial Emissions Directive (which will become the Industrial Emissions Portal Regulation) defines conditions for the BAT BREF documents which are legally applicable to all permitted installations in Europe in covered sectors (some 50 000 sites today). The revision aims include contributing to resource efficiency and the Circular Economy, reducing toxic chemical use, improving coherence on water, air and greenhouse emissions, enhancing innovation and widening scope, in particular to livestock production (at present only large pig and poultry farms are covered, not cattle production and not smaller rearing units). ESPP’s input to the prior consultations underlined Circular Economy, innovation and the livestock sector (21_4_2021). The Commission’s regulatory proposal will now go to the European Parliament and Council.

IED revision “Proposal for a Regulation of the Industrial Emissions Portal”, 4th April 2022 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/publications/proposal-regulation-industrial-emissions-portal_en

 

 

European Commission not positive on “RENURE”

In an answer to a European Parliamentary question, the European Commission shows no intention to authorise use of “RENURE” (SafeManure) materials above N application limits in Nitrates Directive Vulnerable Zones. The question from a Flanders MEP, a region with high livestock density, Tom Vandenkendelaere, suggested that the manure-based materials assessed by the JRC “RENURE” report could be temporarily “derogated” from Nitrates Vulnerable Zone manure N application limits as a response to current price and supply pressure on fertilisers. The Commission reply notes that manure N application is not limited outside Nitrates Directive identified “Vulnerable Areas” and that no Member State has to date requested a derogation for RENURE materials, and reminds that the Farm-to-Fork targets of reducing nutrient losses by 50% by 2030, this reducing fertiliser use by 20%. The Commission states that the Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan (INMAP), under preparation (public consultation closed April 2022, see ESPP eNews n°65) “will consider further options for recycling nutrients in a holistic approach to reduce nutrients pollution”.

ESPP has expressed concerns about the RENURE agronomic criteria as published, which specify (inorganic N/total N) and (organic carbon/total N) ratios, can be met by certain untreated manures, most liquid fractions of manure, or by raw manure spiked with 10% urea (see ESPP eNews n°47). Such materials would be excluded only because RENURE excludes untreated or spiked manure. ESPP does however support the exemption, from the Nitrates Directive application limits for manure “even in a processed form”, of mineral fertilisers (as defined in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, i.e. < 1% organic carbon) recovered from manure, by derogation or interpretation and not by an amendment of the Nitrates Directive.

Parliamentary question for written answer E-000797/2022, Tom Vandenkendelaere (PPE) “Follow-up question: exception for the use of RENURE because of high prices for chemical fertilisers” HERE and European Commission answer E-000797/2022 given by Mr Sinkevičius (2nd May 2020) HERE.

 

 

EFSA paper on research on food & feed safety and the Circular Economy

Literature search for EFSA study focusses on novel food and feed, but concludes that a review is needed on recycling from sewage, manure and organics to fertilisers. EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) organised a stakeholder consultation in 2021 to input to a two-year study on “Food and Feed Safety Vulnerabilities in Circular Economy”. ESPP commented the need to look at safe nutrient recycling, including secondary materials in fertilisers, growing algae for animal feed or microbial protein on waste streams, chemical recycling of nutrients from wastes to feed or food (see ESPP eNews n°61). EFSA have now published a paper from Harper Adams University, UK, based on a literature search, analysis of EU R&D projects and on the above stakeholder consultation. The first section of the paper (Objective 1) identifies relevant practices in the food and feed production chain. Practices cited include use of organic wastes streams, recycling of animal by-products, crop and crop processing waste, fish and crustacean wastes. The second part (Objective 2) was a literature search, limited to “novel foods and feeds” (27 000 articles identified and computer analysed including 26 primary research studies). The third part of the paper (Objective 3) characterises emerging risks, but this is based only on the information on novel foods and feeds. Lastly the paper recommends that future reviews focus on emerging risks beyond the question of novel foods and feeds, in particular: using municipal sewage, manures (inc. insect frass) as fertilisers, using wastewaters for irrigation and using animal by-products in fertilisers.

“Food and feed safety vulnerabilities in the circular economy”, K. James, A. Millington, N. Randall, EFSA Supporting Publications, vol. 19, issue 3, March 2022 7226E https://doi.org/10.2903/sp.efsa.2022.EN-7226

 

 

Scientists say EU needs a “nutrient directive”

An opinion article in Nature Reviews suggests the need for an integrated nutrient directive to regulate agricultural application of nitrogen and phosphorus, taking into account nutrient balances and regional variations. The authors suggest that this is needed to achieve the Farm-to-Fork target of reducing nutrient losses to the environment by 50% (see SCOPE Newsletter n°139). Current nutrient regulations are considered to be failing: the target ecological status of the Water Framework Directive is widely not being achieved. ESPP notes that Grizzetti (JRC) et al. concluded in 2021 that current EU policies could reduce N losses by -14% and P losses by -20% (ESPP eNews n°55), indeed not near the Farm-to-Fork targets. The authors suggest that current EU directives are failing because they are scattered in different policies, often target only one nutrient, and target environmental levels, not sources. The authors emphasise the need for regional differentiation in measures, depending on local soil, crops, climate, environment, etc. ESPP notes that this is already the case with the Water Framework Directive (under which measures are defined at the water basin level), but that this Directive targets impacts not sources. The authors’ proposal is for a nutrient directive which limits agricultural nitrogen and phosphorus application. It is not clarified how this might interact with the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, in which the European Commission’s proposal to monitor nutrient balances at all farms was rejected by Parliament and Council (FaST tool, ESPP eNews n°31).

“The EU needs a nutrient directive”, M. Wassen et al., Nat Rev Earth Environ 3, 287–288 (2022), DOI.

 

 

Swedish Water calls for ban on all PFAS chemicals

Swedish Water, representing Swedish municipalities, assesses problems of PFAS chemicals, and regulatory and market options, concluding that a group ban on all PFAS chemicals is needed, with only very limited exceptions. The report presents the history of PFAS use and increasing awareness of environmental and health risks, underlining that PFAS are “eternity chemicals”, accumulating in nature and difficult and expensive to decontaminate and eliminate. PFAS clean-up could cost a billion Euros for Nordic countries only. Surveys of retailers and consumers show that the market is already trying to move to PFAS-free products, but that this is difficult as information is often not available for imported products. The federation concludes that a ban on PFAS chemicals is needed, as proposed in 2020 by the European Commission under the Green Deal – EU Chemicals Strategy (ESPP eNews n°49). Swedish Water underlines that this should cover all PFAS chemicals (“group ban”) to avoid false substitution of one PFAS chemical by a similar one, and that exemptions from the ban for “essential uses” (as proposed in the EU Chemicals Strategy) should be “very restrictive”

PFAS Report, Svenskt Vatten (Swedish Water https://www.svensktvatten.se/), rapport R2022-1, April 2022, 58 pages, in Swedish with English summary HERE.

 

 

US 250 M$ funding for “American-made”, innovative fertiliser investments

The US government (USDA) is calling for public comment (until 16th May) on a proposed 250 million US$ funding support programme for US production of innovative, sustainable, independent fertiliser production. The cited aims are to bring production and jobs back to the USA, to offer more choice for American farmers and to increase competition in the fertiliser industry and to ensure more reliable and resilient supply in the context of the war in Europe.

“USDA Announces Plans for $250 Million Investment to Support Innovative American-made Fertilizer to give US Farmers more choices in the Marketplace”, US federal Department of Agriculture, 11th March 2022

“USDA Publishes Requests for Information on Fertilizer, Seed, Retail to Address Growing Competition Concerns in the Agricultural Supply Chain”, 18th March 2022.

 

 

US EPA aims to accelerate actions against eutrophication

58% of US rivers and 45% of lakes have too high phosphorus levels. An EPA ‘Memorandum’ announces partnership action with agriculture, states, tribes and territories and use of the Clean Water Act, including extending TDMLs. Actions indicated including “fulfilling Farming Bill requirements to devote significant resources to water protection”, watershed planning tools, financing Clean Water Act flexible regulatory framework such as technology development, market based approaches, water quality trading. EPA will reinforce numeric nutrient criteria into Water Quality Standards, support innovative permitting for point sources (wastewater treatment works) and use Clean Water Act mechanisms to define TDMLs (Total Daily Maximum Loads) for the 26 000 nutrient-impaired water bodies which today do not have nutrient TDMLs and to ensure implementation of TDMLs where they are defined.

“Accelerating Nutrient Pollution Reductions in the Nation’s Waters”, US EPA ( Environmental Protection Agency), 5th April 2022 and HERE

 

 

Research

 

“Roadmap” for new nutrient sources for Organic Farming

Final report from EU-funded H2020 project RELACS on recycled nutrient products for Organic Farming shows little progress, makes no recommendations for action, proposes further discussion and research.

The report’s lead author is from IFOAM EU (European Organic Farming federation), with editors from IFOAM, FiBL (the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture) and the University of Copenhagen. The report is based on 5 national workshops with Organic farmers and advisors, scientists and national authorities, and a European concluding workshop.

The report underlines the Organic Farming objective of feeding plants through the soil ecosystem. Manures from non-organic farms and rock phosphates are considered the most problematic external plant nutrition inputs to Organic Farming, because of contaminants and consumption of non-renewable resources. The report concludes that the importance of nutrient supply to Organic Farming has been underestimated to date, with risks of soil nutrient depletion and of reduced productivity.

The report proposes to develop the recycling of societal waste streams in order to ensure the nutrient supply of Organic Farming. As a first step, the RELACS project assessed three recycled nutrient materials only: AshDec calcined phosphates from sewage sludge incineration ash, Ostara struvite from municipal wastewater and anaerobic digestate (from biowaste, green waste, food waste – manure is not cited as an input material). The first two of these already benefit from a positive Opinion of the EU scientific committee on Organic Farming (EGTOP, 2/2/2016) and the third is already authorised in the EU Organic Farming Regulation. ESPP regrets that RELACS has not considered the 23 detailed recycled nutrient product fact sheets, produced by companies (coordinated by ESPP) and transmitted in December 2021. However, these led to the constructive “reflections” paper on the acceptability of recycled phosphorus fertilisers in European Organic Agriculture, published by FiBL 29th September 2021 (ESPP eNews n°60), which provides possible criteria for analysing which recycled phosphorus products are likely to be accepted in Organic Farming.

The report concludes from the workshops that the acceptance by Organic Farmers of the three products considered is generally good, also indicates concern about microplastics and organic residues in calcined phosphates. This shows that better information of Organic farmers and stakeholders is needed, in that this is not pertinent for a product is derived from sewage sludge incineration ash.

The report’s proposals are to “update*, agree and adopt an evaluation framework for compatibility of external nutrient inputs with the principles of Organic production”. It is stated that the development of this framework will start by IFOAM launching a Working Group. The report also recommends further research, including long-term trials of recycled nutrients in Organic Farming, fate of contaminants (in particular copper and zinc), nutrient needs for Organic Farming and potential resources. Farm advice on nutrient balances is also recommended.

* The word “update” should be replaced by “develop”, because no such “evaluation framework” exists to date.

ESPP previously wrote to IFOAM EU on 20th April 2022 (HERE) requesting that IFOAM renew action to request inclusion of struvite and calcined phosphates into the EU Organic Farming Regulation (following the joint letter already signed with ESPP 17/6/2020 HERE) and engage consideration of other recycled nutrient products, including certain recovered nitrogen products.

Contentious Inputs in organic farming Systems), Horizon 2020, “Deliverable No 7.5: European roadmap for phasing-in new nutrient sources”, M. Calmels, IFOAM EU et al., 7th April 2022 HERE.

“Reflections on the acceptability of recycled P fertilisers for European organic agriculture”, 29 September 2021, V. Leschenne, B. Speiser, FiBL https://www.betriebsmittelliste.ch/fileadmin/bml-ch/documents/stellungnahmen/Recycled_P_fertilisers_v2_Sept_2021.pdf

 

 

Higher P fertiliser needed to achieve Sustainable Development goals

Modelling suggests that a 22 – 30 % increase in P input is needed (for 16 years, world total) to achieve the SDG 2.3 for smallholder farm productivity, resulting in only 1% increase in P runoff. UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2.3 sets the target to double productivity of smallholder farms as important to achieve SDG2 zero hunger. Based on data from Brazil where soils with high P-fixation are today approaching the point where a “maintenance” fertiliser application becomes possible without crop yield loss, and assuming that yields are not limited by other nutrients or climate, this leads to estimate that 50 kgP/ha/y application over the period 2015 - 2030 would eliminate P limitation of crop yield in five regions where smallholder farms are dominant and where P application is today low: Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, South-East Asia, India, Middle East. P limitation of crop yield is also present in Eastern Europe, Australia and parts of China, South America, New Zealand, but these regions have fewer smallholder farms. Overall, the five assessed regions will require a total (for 16 years) of 74 MtP fertiliser input, that is 39% higher (for these regions) than a baseline scenario, and representing 22 – 30% compared to a global total today of 15 – 21 MtP/y (this number is from the ESPP Factsheet estimate of global P uses, assuming increased P input comes only from mineral fertiliser, and assuming unchanged P fertiliser use in the rest of the world). This increased consumption might not continue beyond 2 or more decades as soil P stores are established in soils and farmers can then move to a maintenance fertilisation strategy.

“Phosphorus for Sustainable Development Goal target of doubling smallholder productivity”, C. Langhans, A. Beusen, J. Mogollón, A Bouwman, Nature Sustainability, col. 5, Jan., 2022, 57-63, DOI.

 

 

Perspectives for sewage nutrient recycling in Austria

Around half of Austria’s sewage sludge currently is valorised in agriculture. Around half this sludge going to agriculture is first composted, with 95% of sewage sludge compost achieving Quality criteria. A significant part of sewage sludge (c. 20%) goes to agricultural land either directly or after dewatering only. In all cases, sludge applied to land is today used subject to heavy metal limits and to nutrient requirements of crops. Austria produces around 240 000 t/y of sewage sludge (dry matter), of which 99% from sewage works > 2 000 p.e. This contains some 6 400 tP/y of phosphorus. Heavy metal levels in Austrian sewage sludge have decreased considerably over recent decades, but questions remain over other contaminants such as microplastics or pharmaceuticals. An Austrian study suggests that microplastics levels may relate principally to the sewer system and to industrial discharges (Sexlinger 2021). National monitoring of pharmaceuticals show very significant reduction in composting, but nonetheless detection of one pharmaceutical (carbamazepine) in soil after sewage sludge compost application. The authors conclude that evidence-based limits for organic contaminants in sewage sludge used in agriculture need to be developed, as well as upstream actions to reduce inputs to sewage. Mono-incineration of sewage sludge with phosphorus recovery can be an important route where contaminants prevent agricultural use.

“Best Available Technology for P-Recycling from Sewage Sludge - An Overview of Sewage Sludge Composting in Austria”, B. Stürmer, M. Waltner, Recycling 2021, 6, 82. DOI. One of the authors is from the Austrian Compost and Biogas Association.

 

 

P-recovery headed to replace nearly half of German mineral P fertiliser use

Study estimates that German sewage P-recycling legislation will lead to recovery of 70 – 77 % of sewage P, that is up to 43 % of mineral P fertiliser consumption. Only 16 % of German sewage sludge was used in agriculture in 2019, around half of the 2010 level, as a result of new fertiliser legislation with tighter N application limits for farmers (implementation of the Nitrates Directive) causing competition with manure, and of new waste legislation, with sewage sludge contaminant limits. The German sewage sludge ordinance (AbfKlärV 2017, detailed in SCOPE Newsletter n°129) will ban agricultural sludge use and require P recovery (if sludge contains > 2%) from all sewage works > 50 000 p.e. by 2032. Based on this legislation and on data on sludge P content and sewage works sizes, with different scenarios, the study concludes that 71 – 80 % of Germany’s sludge will be incinerated (0 – 14% used in agriculture), 70 – 77 % of P in sewage will be recovered (including via use in agriculture), and also 31 – 53 % potassium, 36 – 52 % calcium, 40 – 52 % magnesium but only 0 – 16% nitrogen. For phosphorus, this would represent up to 43 % of German mineral P fertiliser use.

“Future nutrient recovery from sewage sludge regarding three different scenarios - German case study”, T. Sichler et al,, J. Cleaner Production

Vol. 333, 2022, 130130 DOI

 

 

Recycling P from fish processing waste to fish feed

Fish bone meal and dicalcium phosphate (DCP) extracted from fish bones showed to be effective P sources in aquaculture fish feed. Trials were carried out in heated, recirculating aquaculture production of African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus), comparing feeds including P recovered from fish processing wastes to commercial DCP. The recycled P materials were produced from fish heads from a local Monkfish processing company (South Africa). The heads were treated by enzymatic protein hydrolysis, then rinsed, to leave cleaned bones. Fish bone meal was produced by drying @ 50°C then grinding. Recovered DCP was produced by leaching with 1M phosphoric acid then DCP precipitation by adding lime. The trials showed good fish growth with both recovered and commercial P in feed, with no significant differences in fish growth (body weight), feed conversion rate, body condition (mortality, serum parameters, bone mineral composition). The authors conclude that these phosphate materials recovered from fish processing wastes are a viable replacement for commercial dicalcium phosphate in aquaculture feed.

“In‑Vivo Evaluation of the Suitability of By‑Product‑Derived Phosphate Feed Supplements for Use in the Circular Economy, Using Juvenile

African Catfish as Model Species”, J. Swanepoel, N. Goosen, Waste Biomass Valor (2022) DOI.

“Optimization of phosphate recovery from monkfish, Lophius vomerinus, processing by-products and characterization of the

phosphate phases”, J. Swart, A. Bordoloi, N. Goosen, J. Sci. Food Agric., 99: 2743-2756 DOI.

 

Scenarios for future phosphorus demand for batteries

Papers discuss implications for phosphorus demand if Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries (LFP) become predominant in electric vehicles, concluding possible need of 2 MtP/y, that is c. 10% of currently mined phosphate rock. An initial paper by Xu et al. 2020 discussed potential future demand for several critical materials for production of electric vehicle EV batteries worldwide 2020 – 2050 (automotive only). This paper mainly addressed lithium, cobalt, and nickel (copper, graphite and silicon also in annex). A comment paper by Spears et al. 2022 suggested that phosphorus should also be considered, in Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries. In response to this, the original authors published a response 2022, estimating demand for phosphorus. In a scenario with 50% electric global fleet EV penetration by 2050 (“SD scenario”), based on estimated annual electric vehicle sales and battery capacity requirements, and if 60% of the EV battery capacity is Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries (compared to near zero today), then Xu et al. estimate that c. 3 MtP per year of phosphorus will be required by 2050, of which around one third may come from recycling of end-of-life batteries, resulting in an annual net demand of c. 2 MtP/y by 2050. This estimate is based on an assumed 1:1 atomic ratio between phosphorus and lithium in LFP batteries, multiplied by the molecular weight ratio (4.5:1 w/w). The estimate for total lithium used in batteries included the electrolyte and the cathode, whereas the lithium iron phosphorus in LFP batteries concerns the cathode only. On the other hand, use of phosphorus compounds for fire safety in battery electrolytes, membranes or structures/casings is not taken into account. These points are not expected to significantly modify the overall estimate. Also, the estimate covers use in light vehicles only, whereas significant additional demand is possible in batteries for trains and buses, other vehicles, and network energy storage. Xu et al. (2022) indicate (after correction*) that this estimate for P demand for LFP could consume approximately as much phosphorus as is used today in all industrial uses. ESPP estimates that 2 MtP/y (in 2050) would represent around 10% of current mined phosphate rock production (see ESPP Factsheet). Detailed data and calculations are provided in the Supplementary Information available online for each of the three papers.

“Future material demand for automotive lithium-based batteries”, C. Xu et al., Communications Materials 2020:1-99 (Nature), DOI.

“Concerns about global phosphorus demand for lithium-iron-phosphate batteries in the light electric vehicle sector”, B. Spears, W. Brownlie, D. Cordell, L. Hermann, J. Mogollón, Communications Materials 2022:3-14, DOI.
“Reply to: Concerns about global phosphorus demand for lithium-iron-phosphate batteries in the light electric vehicle sector”, C. Xu et al., Communications Materials 2022) 3:15 DOI.
* ESPP has noted (confirmed by the authors) that the dotted line in fig. 1a in Xu et al. 2022 is based on an error in correction of P2O5 to P, so should be 2x higher.

 

Analysing contaminants in wastewater recovered materials

Levels of certain industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals and heavy metals were tested in a range of materials recovered in wastewater treatment plants, such as precipitated phosphates, ion-exchange, hydrolysed sludge, bio-polymers. The recovered materials were generated in the EU Horizon2020 SMART-Plant R&D project. The industrial chemicals analysed were polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAH (e.g. naphthalene) and chloralkanes (e.g. chloroparaffins). Levels were  generally orders of magnitude lower in the recovered materials than regulatory limits in fertilisers in any identified country. Heavy metals were also generally orders of magnitude lower than the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation limits, except in one material produced by thermal hydrolysis of sewage sludge from Pyttalia wwtp, Athens. Pesticides were generally not detectable. Of the pharmaceuticals analysed, several antibiotics were found at levels up to 600 ng/g DM in samples of sewage sludge, compost and recovered bio-polymers (PHA, cellulose): ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, clarithromycin. Antibiotics were not detectable or showed an order of magnitude lower concentrations in recovered struvite and in calcium phosphates recovered via ion-exchange.

“Determination of multi-class emerging contaminants in sludge and recovery materials from waste water treatment plants: Development of a modified QuEChERS method coupled to LC–MS/MS”, B. Benedetti et al., Microchemical Journal 155 (2020) 104732, DOI

“Assessment of the significance of heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants in recovered products from water resource recovery facilities”, N. Rey- Martínez et al., Resources, Conservation & Recycling 182 (2022) 106313, DOI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phosphorus is most widely limiting nutrient on land

Global modelling suggests that 43% of land area is naturally limited by phosphorus, compared to only 18% by nitrogen, with the remainder co-limited by both nutrients or only weakly nutrient limited. Phosphorus is already recognised as the limiting nutrient in nearly all freshwater systems (lakes, rivers, reservoirs), which is why even limited phosphorus losses from land to water can cause eutrophication problems (algal growth). This study confirms the importance of P limitation for terrestrial ecosystems, and so its implications for potential to limit carbon uptake in response to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. The model is based on eleven predictors, covering local climate, soil and vegetation factors. Results show good correlation to published field data. Nitrogen tends to be more limiting at higher latitudes and altitudes. Phosphorus is limiting in general in tropical, subtropical and temperature deciduous forests, Mediterranean biomes, tropical and temperate grasslands, savannas and shrubland. The authors note that climate warming may favour biological nitrogen fixation, so mitigating nitrogen limitation and increasing areas concerned by phosphorus limitation.

“Global patterns of terrestrial nitrogen and phosphorus limitation”, E. Du et al., Nat. Geosci. 13, 221–226 (2020) DOI.

 

 

 

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ESPP is looking for research students to carry out, in coming 3-6 months, paid, one-off literature search – analysis tasks on nitrogen recovery and on safety of animal by-product ashes. Offers are welcome for these two separate tasks, with CV, from research students or institutes. Offers are requested by 31st May 2022. Full details of tasks are on the ESPP website here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A group of companies and stakeholders will prepare a dossier specifying processing conditions to request an EFSA Opinion on safety of biochars from manures, and launch data collection on contaminants on biochars from sewage. At the webinar of biochar, pyrolysis and gasification, organised by ESPP 15th march 2022, with participant of EFSA (European Food Safety Agency), it was decided to constitute a group of companies and stakeholders who will work together to define process conditions and other specifications, then prepare and submit to EFSA a dossier on safety of such materials produced from manures or other animal by-products. This will be supported by EBI (European Biochar Industry Consortium). Data collection will also be engaged on elimination of organic contaminants (pharmaceuticals, PFAS, industrial and consumer chemicals) in different biochar process conditions.

Summary of webinar and action points are available on request from ESPP 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open to 17 May 2022. General public and specialist questionnaire invites opinions on the risks from microplastics, possible regulatory action, willingness to pay more for products with lower microplastics release. Specialist section addresses pellets, tyres, textiles, detergent capsules. Amongst possible actions suggested are “Specific waste water treatments in urban waste water treatment plants” but it is not explained what such treatments might be.

EU public consultation, open to 17 May 2022 “Microplastics pollution – measures to reduce its impact on the environment” HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews065
Download as PDF

 

ESPC4 and PERM
European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)
20-22 June 2022, Vienna, Austria - and hybrid

EU consultations
EU consultation on nutrient management
EU public consultation: microplastics
EU public consultation: mercury

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR)
Status of Fertilising Products Regulation amendments
Post-processing of digestates and of other fertilising products
FPR consultation on new CMCs and biostimulants microorganisms planned
No real progress (again) on Animal By-Products (ABPs)
Proposed EU Standards for analysis methods for STRUBIAS materials

Policy
SYSTEMIC policy recommendations
Commission moves on EU End-of-Waste (EoW) for plastics & textiles - only
Pyrolysis & gasification materials: industry to propose EU dossiers for safe biochars

Research
Regeneration of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery electrodes
Algae grown in digestate as animal feed – pathogen safety & regulatory questions
Long-term land use of sewage biosolids and antimicrobial resistance
Review: climate change – eutrophication feedback
Chronic drought reduces soil P storage
Phosphorus and health
High phosphorus diet does not show glucose impairment in mouse trial
Identifying key flows for P-stewardship action in Germany
Enzyme pre-conditioning of pig and poultry feed
Anaerobic digestion and pharmaceuticals in manures

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

 

ESPC4 and PERM


European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)

20-22 June 2022, Vienna, Austria - and hybrid

espc4 enews 58 2

Full programmes and speakers are now online for both ESPC4 (4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference) and PERM (Phosphorus Research in Europe Meeting), plus site visit and young researchers networking event. A few places are still available for “new” presentations – email us urgently. Over 130 participants are already registered.

Make sure YOU don’t miss the first major international meeting on sustainable nutrients since the start of Covid, with the European Commission and international organisations, leading companies, scientists and stakeholders. Networking tools will ensure information sharing both onsite in Vienna and between physical participants and online participants. Register now. Capacity in Vienna is limited to 300.

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

 

EU consultations

 

EU consultation on nutrient management

Open to 26th April 2022. Public consultation on INMAP, the new EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan. ESPP regrets that the proposal largely ignores diet, nutrient recycling, food security and agricultural policy (CAP). The new Plan aims to achieve the objective fixed by the Green Deal to reduce nutrient losses by 50% without deteriorating soil fertility. The European Commission document underlines that nitrogen and phosphorus exceed ‘Planetary Boundaries’ by 3.3x and 2x and that the latest Nitrates Directive implementation report shows that over 30% of both rivers and lakes and over 80% of marine waters are eutrophic. It is underlined that phosphorus (under the term “Phosphate Rock”) is on the EU Critical Raw Materials list and that the environmental costs of nitrogen pollution are 70 – 320 billion €/year (from Sutton et al. 2011 - the costs of phosphorus losses are not estimated). The European Commission’s proposed outline for INMAP centres on reducing nutrient losses, to both water and air (for N), including monitoring losses and targeting “nutrient pollution hotspots”.

Despite referring to the Circular Economy Action Plan in the introduction, nutrient use efficiency and nutrient recycling are not emphasised and diet is not cited in the proposed INMAP outline. Food security is identified as a challenge in the consultation summary webpage, but is absent from the proposed INMAP outline. ESPP input will suggest that dietary change is the key driver of fertiliser use, of livestock production and of nutrient pollution, as well as of food security, and that developing nutrient recovery and recycling is central to both reducing nutrient losses (N and P losses to water, ammonia air pollution and nitrogen oxides climate emissions) and to reducing dependency on imported phosphate rock and phosphate fertilisers and imported natural gas (for nitrogen fertiliser production). The proposed INMAP outline suggests that Member States should focus on synergies between nutrient pollution reduction and CAP (common agricultural policy) but seems to imply that no modification of CAP is required to improve nutrient management. The outline indicates that INMAP initiatives may include revising legislation if necessary, but does not make proposals to enable funding of nutrient recycling and improved nutrient management, such as confirmation of the inclusion of phosphorus recycling in the EU Taxonomy for green investment funding (see ESPP eNews n°58 and n°59) or extension of carbon credits to saving nitrogen greenhouse gases.

EU public consultation, open to individuals, companies, stakeholder organisations, to 26th April 2022 (4000 character free text input, plus possibility to upload a position paper or document). “Nutrients – action plan for better management” (Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan, INMAP) here     ESPP’s initial input to the INMAP preparation process, 27_3_2021 is here http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

EU public consultation: microplastics

Open to 17 May 2022. General public and specialist questionnaire invites opinions on the risks from microplastics, possible regulatory action, willingness to pay more for products with lower microplastics release. Specialist section addresses pellets, tyres, textiles, detergent capsules. Amongst possible actions suggested are “Specific waste water treatments in urban waste water treatment plants” but it is not explained what such treatments might be.

EU public consultation, open to 17 May 2022 “Microplastics pollution – measures to reduce its impact on the environment” HERE.

 

 

EU public consultation: mercury

Open to 3 May 2022. Consultation questions whether mercury should be banned in dental fillings and emissions from crematoria limited. Both actions would significantly reduce mercury levels in sewage and biosolids. Further details in ESPP eNews n°64.

EU public consultation, open to 3 May 2022 “Mercury – review of EU law” HERE.

 

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR)

 

Status of Fertilising Products Regulation amendments

To date, a “consolidated” version of the Fertilising Products Regulation including amendments is not yet available.

Initial Fertilising Products Regulation (Regulation 2019/1009)

Published Official Journal 25/6/2019

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019R1009

STRUBIAS (struvite, biochars and ashes):

CMC12 “Precipitated phosphate salts & derivates”

CMC13 “Thermal oxidation materials and derivates”

CMC14 “Pyrolysis and gasification materials”

Published Official Journal 30/11/2021

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2019/1009

Technical amendments

Published Official Journal 8/10/2021

Corrigendum

Published Official Journal 10/3/2022

CMC11 By-Products

Finalised text adopted by European Commission, March 2022. Now in mandatory 3-month Council – Parliament “objection” period. Publication in Official Journal expected July 2022.

See under “Commission adoption”:

Here    and

Here

CMC15
“Recovered high purity materials”

(includes nitrogen recovery from off-gases)

Technical amendments, including post-processing of digestates

Text finalised, now pending formal European Commission adoption, then translation, “objection” period. Publication in Official Journal expected late Summer 2022.

Temporary link on CIRCAB here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Non-regulatory Commission ‘guidance’ document.

Regularly updated here.

 

 

 

Post-processing of digestates and of other fertilising products

Input is needed on the list of examples of processes applied to digestates, before use as fertilising products: send to ESPP before 27th April. The amendment, requested by ESPP and EBA, to clarify that “post-processing” of digestates is allowed under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation has been finalised, and authorises the following: solid-liquid separation, ammonium and/or phosphate removal (for recovery), removal of water, additives necessary for these processes. Currently, the European Commission is preparing a list of examples of such processes to include in a future update of the FPR FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions guidance document). Based on the draft proposed text from the European Commission, ESPP proposes the following list of examples – to which your comments are welcome to ESPP before 27th April:

- mechanical separation of the solid/liquid fraction: filtration, ultra-, nano- or other-membrane filtration, including under pressure or vacuum; gravitational separation, such as settling or flotation (including air bubble flotation, centrifuge).

- recovery of nitrogen or phosphorus: ammonia stripping (e.g. by increasing pH by adding e.g. caustic soda, bubbling air through the digestate, increasing the temperature, decreasing the pressure (vacuum), gas membrane separation …) followed by nitrogen recovery; adsorption / ion-exchange; precipitation.

- dewatering: drying by standing, atmospheric drying, using air or hot air, or by using solar radiation, belt dryers, push-turn, fluid bed, and drum dryers,  …. ; freeze drying; concentration of the liquid fraction; reverse osmosis and membrane concentration; vacuum evaporation.

All such processes are allowed provided that they lead only to the changes inherent to mechanical separation, nutrient recovery or dewatering, without the intention to otherwise chemically modify the digestate or the fraction.

Such post-processing is NOT authorised for composts, biochars, food industry by-products or other CMCs under the Regulation (except in specific cases: CMC1 de facto, CMC2 limited list of processes, CMC7 drying & freeze drying only, CMC12 and CMC13 chemical derivates). In particular, drying / concentration, solid-liquid separation, filtration, nano- or membrane-filtration and reverse osmosis, granulation, compacting, sieving, grinding or pasteurisation would appear to be not possible for most CMCs. Dilution with water would seem to be possible, in that the water is simply a separate CMC (CMC1). An ESPP suggestion to resolve this by amending Annex II to authorise post-processing (without the intention to chemically modify) for all CMCs was taken up by the European Commission and discussed at the EU Fertilisers Experts Group but not finalised, due to requests from Member States and stakeholders for more time to examine the text in detail.

 

FPR consultation on new CMCs and biostimulants microorganisms planned

At the EU Fertilisers Expert Group 4-5 April 2022 (ESPP is a Member), the European Commission confirmed that a public consultation is planned on secondary materials which are excluded from current CMCs, in order to identify possible future amendments of existing CMCs or materials for which a study of market potential, agronomic value and safety could be appropriate, and to collect relevant data. It is proposed that this consultation will also cover proposed additions to the list of microorganisms eligible for use as biostimulants (CMC7), that is microorganisms which stimulate plant nutrition processes, so improving fertiliser use efficiency. This list currently only includes Azotobacter, Mycrorrhizal fungi, Rhizobium and Azospirillum.

EBIC (European Biostimulants Industry Council) published a detailed position paper (31st March 2022) expressing concern that CMC7 only allows four genera of biostimulants microorganism, thus blocking both access to the market of microorganism biostimulants which have already proven their potential, and preventing future innovation to improve fertiliser use efficiency. The EBIC position paper presents sixty microorganisms shown to have plant stimulant effects.

Input is welcome to ESPP on proposed new CMCs or recycled nutrient materials which are excluded from current Fertilising Products Regulation CMCs. ESPP maintains a working list of such materials, with summary details, here: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

EBIC position paper and proposals on microbial biostimulants for CMC7 “The Fertilising Products Regulation should allow microbial plant biostimulants to access the EU market in a way that fosters innovation” (12 pages), 31st March 2022 here

 

No real progress (again) on Animal By-Products (ABPs)

The EU Fertilisers Expert Group 4-5 April 2022 yet again came up against no real progress from DG SANTE on integrating animal by products into the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. Compost and digestate, biochar or ash from manure or other animal by-products, as well as identified animal by-products which are today widely used and recognised as safe in Member States, will thus be excluded from CE-mark fertilisers when the Fertilising Products Regulation enters into force in July this year (e.g. bone meal, feather meal, discarded animal feed or petfood materials …). Questions from Member States and stakeholders were met with effectively no answer from DG SANTE. ESPP criticised DG SANTE’s slow proceedings, reminding that the regulatory proposal for the Fertilising Products Regulation, in March 2016, included full detail for all CMCs, and further CMCs have already been finalised by DG GROW and added since then (three STRUBIAS materials, by-products CMC11, recovered ammonia from off-gas and other recovered minerals CMC15), whereas in 2016, for animal by-products, DG SANTE had prepared an empty box (literally) for CMC10. The European Parliament and Council therefore wrote into the Regulation art. 46 that the Commission must initiate assessment of ABPs for inclusion into the Regulation by latest 15th January 2020. DG SANTE’s mandate to EFSA for an Opinion was not issued until 30th April 2020. To the 4-5 April 2022 meeting, DG SANTE indicated that two meetings are now planned in late April and May, then public consultation, then adoption into the Fertilising Products Regulation “before the end of 2022” and that work is underway to include into the Regulation three types of animal by-product (and derived product): composts and digestates (of ABPs, such as manure), protein materials, and the list of materials assessed by EFSA (see detailed summary of EFSA Opinion of 30/10/2021 in ESPP eNews n°61). No information was provided on what is on the agenda of these two meetings and has not presented any proposes for criteria, nor for selection of materials, nor for regulatory mechanism ….

 

EBIC, ESPP and a total of 11 organisations published an open letter on 27th March 2022, to DG SANTE, underlining that manure is a major input material for anaerobic digestion and represents the largest potential for increasing the circular use of nutrients, but will be completely excluded from CE-mark fertilisers in July 2022 (including, manure composts and manure digestates are excluded). The letter notes that animal by-products are already used as fertilisers in Member States under national fertiliser regulations, conform to the Animal By-Product Regulation 1069/2009, with a long history of safe use. For example, in 2018 (the latest official data available), 62,468 controls were conducted in Italy, with only nine cases requiring further investigation for pathogens, and all nine cases were finally determined to be negative for contamination.

Summary of EFSA Opinion of 30/10/2021 in ESPP eNews n°61

EBIC – ESPP – AFAIA – Federchimica Assofertilizzanti, EBA, ECB, ECOFI, Eurofema, Growing Media Europe, Agrar, Unifa joint letter 27th March 2022 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Proposed EU Standards for analysis methods for STRUBIAS materials

Comments are invited to 30th April on a draft list of new EU Standards for testing and analysis of precipitated phosphates & struvite, ash-derived fertilisers, biochars- pyrolysis & gasification materials (STRUBIAS CMCs 12-13-14). The European Commission’s draft mandate to CEN for Harmonised Standards development for STRUBIAS is open for comment and proposals, concerning the proposed list of Standards to be developed, existing Standards which can be taken as basis (EU, ISO, national, other) and short description of the parameters concerned. Please send any input to ESPP (ESPP is a member of the EU Fertilisers Expert Group and can forward to the European Commission).

Draft Standards Mandate to CEN for the Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS annexes (CMCs 12, 13 and 14), v 28/3/2021, for comments by 30th April 2022 available here: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Policy

 

 

SYSTEMIC policy recommendations

The EU-funded Horizon 2020 project SYSTEMIC, addressing nutrient recycling from digestates, project outcome documents include a 6-page policy briefing and material fact sheets for recycled nutrients (recovered ammonium sulphate, mineral concentrate).

SYSTEMIC’s policy recommendations underline the need for incentives to stimulate the market for recovered nutrients, for example through inclusion of carbon savings from nitrogen recycling and bio-based fertilisers in greenhouse policies such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and in the Renewable Energy Directive. In particular, ammonia salts recovered from the digestate have low greenhouse gas emissions during production and application and could partially replace N-fertilisers produced by Haber-Bosch. The saved carbon emissions could be credited to the biogas plant operator, or the carbon emissions from Haber Bosch should be compensated by fertiliser producers and importers by the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).

SYSTEMIC underlines the need to progress on inclusion of products derived from animal by-products (in particular from manure) in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation = FPR (see discussion of EFSA Opinion of 30/10/2021 in ESPP eNews n°61).) and requests the admission into the FPR of recovered ammonia salts from stripping (this is now finalised with CMC15) and of nano-filtration materials. The latter are covered by the fact sheet on “Mineral concentrate” which are defined as produced by reverse osmosis. ESPP notes that there is at present no proposal to include “Mineral concentrates” or nano-filtrates in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, and to do so would presumably require defining an Animal By-Products End-Point and so a dossier on process parameters and sanitary safety for EFSA.

SYSTEMIC supports the proposed RENURE criteria, which would, if adopted, allow application above Nitrates Directive nitrogen limits of certain forms of processed manure. SYSTEMIC suggests that this would allow these materials to compete with synthetic mineral fertilisers as a nitrogen source in livestock producing regions where manure is abundantly available. SYSTEMIC asks for “harmonised implementation” for all Member States, whereas the RENURE report specifies that, to ensure environmental protection, any Nitrates Directive derogation would be subject to specific regional criteria and constraints under each Nitrates Vulnerable Zone Action Plan.

ESPP has expressed concerns about the agronomic criteria for nitrogen forms in the proposed RENURE criteria which, as published, could be passed by certain untreated manures, most liquid fractions of manure, or by raw manure spiked with 10% urea (see ESPP eNews n°47). Such materials can achieve the proposed RENURE (inorganic N/total N) and (organic carbon/total N) criteria, and would be excluded only because RENURE excludes untreated or spiked manure . ESPP does however support the exemption, from the Nitrates Directive application limits for manure “even in a processed form”, of mineral fertilisers (as defined in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation, i.e. < 1% organic carbon) recovered from manure.

ESPP letter to European Commission requesting action on mineral fertilisers recovered from manure, 10th March 2020 and reminder 27th December 2021 http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

SYSTEMIC project documents https://systemicproject.eu/downloads/

SYSTEMIC project website : https://systemicproject.eu

SYSTEMIC policy note for decision makers: https://systemicproject.eu/systemic-releases-final-policy-note/

 

 

Commission moves on EU End-of-Waste (EoW) for plastics & textiles - only

The European Commission has announced that EU EoW criteria will be developed only for plastics and textiles. In the JRC preparatory study, no bio-waste sourced materials were shortlisted. Despite input from ESPP and others. The absence of EU EoW criteria is an obstacle to recycling of nutrients and other materials from wastewater (see Eureau – ESPP – various stakeholder Fact Sheets on algae, fibres and polymer and mineral products recovered from wastewaters, 1st December 2021 here). Certain materials proposed by ESPP, Eureau (the European water industry federation) and other stakeholders were not considered (algae grown using waste inputs) or not addressed as suggested (minerals recovered from ashes became two categories “phosphorus” and “potassium chloride”). Critical Raw Materials were apparently not considered an important criteria (weight = 1/3, and maximum score limited to 2/3 whereas all other criteria had possible scores of 3/3). The “top 5” shortlisted waste streams identified by JRC are: plastics, textiles, rubber from tyres, construction waste (aggregates and mineral wool) and paper & cardboard. The JRC report concludes by proposing to prioritise plastics for development of EU End-of-Waste criteria, with five plastics streams: PET, polyethylene, polystyrene, polypropylene, mixed plastics. The European Commission has then announced that EoW criteria will be developed for plastics and textiles (5th April 2022).

The EU End-of-Waste status for recovered nutrients used in fertilisers is ensured by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. ESPP however considers that End-of-Waste (EoW) status can nonetheless be a significant obstacle to nutrient recycling, in particular for inorganic phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium chemicals recovered from waste streams (e.g. phosphoric acid, ammonia salts) where the absence of EU EoW status can be an obstacle to placing these on the commodity chemicals market, including as ‘intermediates’ for fertiliser production. ESPP considers that pathogen safety is ensured for nutrient chemicals recovered from ashes, but would need demonstrating for nutrient chemicals recovered from offgas cleaning or other routes. The regulatory status of algae and aquatic plants grown using wastewaters as growing media or waste nutrients or waste CO2 inputs remains to be clarified. ESPP will continue to pursue these questions with the European Commission.

ESPP input to the EU JRC consultation on selecting priority materials for definition of EU End-of-Waste Criteria, 10_10_2021 http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

Eureau - ESPP and other stakeholders Fact Sheets on secondary products from waste waters (algae, fibres and polymers, minerals), 1st December 2021.

European Commission JRC study “Scoping possible further EU-wide end-of-waste and by-product criteria”, March 2022 http://dx.doi.org/10.2760/067213

European Commission announcement, 5th April 2022 “The Commission starts to develop end-of-waste criteria for plastic waste” here.

 

 

Pyrolysis & gasification materials: industry to propose EU dossiers for safe biochars

A group of companies and stakeholders will prepare a dossier specifying processing conditions to request an EFSA Opinion on safety of biochars from manures, and launch data collection on contaminants on biochars from sewage. At the webinar of biochar, pyrolysis and gasification, organised by ESPP 15th march 2022, with participant of EFSA (European Food Safety Agency), it was decided to constitute a group of companies and stakeholders who will work together to define process conditions and other specifications, then prepare and submit to EFSA a dossier on safety of such materials produced from manures or other animal by-products. This will be supported by EBI (European Biochar Industry Consortium). Data collection will also be engaged on elimination of organic contaminants (pharmaceuticals, PFAS, industrial and consumer chemicals) in different biochar process conditions.

Summary of webinar and action points are available on request from ESPP

Research

Regeneration of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery electrodes

In Zhang 2022, calcining with sucrose enabled recycling of LiFePO4 back into battery cathode material. End-of-life batteries were disassembled and the LFP cathode plates separated. These were calcined at 300°C (1 hour), then aluminium foil material was removed, then again calcined at 600°C (20 minutes). The material was then well mixed with sucrose (9 -12%), PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride) and NMP (N-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone) and calcined again at 500 – 750°C, then finally dried onto aluminium foil to produce cathodes. The sucrose calcination coated carbon onto the LFP particles and reduced LiFe(PO4)3 to LiFePO4. The resulting LFP/C showed good performance as a battery cathode material (lithium transport, charge retention after 200 charging cycles).

In Fan 2022, extraction with sodium hydroxide recovered iron hydroxide and lithium phosphate. End-of-Life Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries were charged then disassembled under inert gas. The shell, cathode, anode and separator were separated. The anode was leached with water, recovering LiOH solution, graphite and copper foil. The cathode was immersed in NMP solvent (N-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone) to dissolve PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride)and so enable separation of aluminium foil. The remaining cathode material was leached with sodium hydroxide (1 mol/l, NaOH:Fe ratio 4.5), so generating a sodium phosphate solution and precipitate of iron hydroxide. The sodium phosphate solution was reacted with the lithium hydroxide solution (from the anode leaching), resulting in lithium phosphate (LiPO4) precipitate and regenerated sodium hydroxide which can be reused in the process. The authors suggest that this room-temperature recycling process could be significantly cheaper than current pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy processes.

“Regenerated LiFePO4/C for scrapped lithium iron phosphate powder batteries by pre‑oxidation and reduction method”; H. Zhang et al., Ionics (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11581-022-04458-x

“Room-temperature extraction of individual elements from charged spent LiFePO4 batteries”, M-C. Fan et al, Rare Met. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12598-021-01919-6

Algae grown in digestate as animal feed – pathogen safety & regulatory questions

The EU funded ALG-AD (Interreg) project tested microalgae grown in filtered digestate from food waste and/or manure, and found no significant pathogen risk. Questions are raised concerning the Animal By-Product Regulation and other regulatory constraints.

The project studied microalgae cultivated in liquid digestates (after centrifuge solid-liquid separation) as follows:

Origin of digestate
(input materials):

Digestate output :

Digester conditions
and digestate processing:

Capacity of algae system:

Algae system ran for:

Cooperl, Brittany, France

Pig manure and slaughterhouse wastes
(Cat. 2 and 3 Animal By-Products)

400 000 t/y (wet weight)

Mesophilic digester conditions (38°C).

Salt is added to the digestate salt at 15g/l (because the algae cultivated in this case is a saltwater species).

Digestate is filtered by membrane < 0.2 µm upstream of algae cultivation (this effectively ensures sanitisation)

Volume:
2.5 m3.

Input:
46 l/day.

13 months

Langage AD, Devon, UK

Food waste

20 000 t/y
(wet weight)

Mesophilic digester conditions (38°C).

Digestate is filtered by membrane of 0.1 µm pore upstream of algae cultivation (this effectively ensures sanitisation)

Volume:
7 m3

Input:
2.4 l/day.

30 months

Innolab, Oostkamp, Belgium

Food waste and biomass

160 000 t/y (wet weight)

Thermophilic digester conditions (50 °C).

Digestate sanitised at 70°C for 1 hour and filtered through paper (pore 10 µm) upstream of algae cultivation.

Volume:
0.75 m3.

Input:
1.2 l/day.

24 months

Pathogen analysis was carried out in the digestate liquid fraction (“DAF” in the report, after filtration) and in the algae, by pathogen growth tests and by metagenomic DNA analysis, for Clostridium botulinum, Clostridiodes, Mycobacterium, Campylobacter, Listeria, Yersinia and Salmonella.

Results show no detected pathogens in the filtered liquid fraction of digestate from Cooperl or from Langage, nor in the harvested algae grown in these filtered digestates (except in one case, pathogens in algae cultivated in Langage digestate, but not detected in the filtered digestate), but positive results were detected for certain pathogens in both filtered digestate and cultivated algae in the Innolab digestate liquid fraction. The presence of pathogens in the Innolab digestate is surprising in that it is pasteurised post-digester before use for algae cultivation (1 hour @ 70°C). The absence of pathogens in the Cooperl and Langage digestate liquid fractions may be related to the digester operating conditions (temperature – time profile), to addition of salt to the Cooperl digestate or to membrane filtration of the digestate liquid fraction (upstream of the algae cultivation). Metagenomics (DNA) analysis shows negative or weakly positive results for the cultivated algae: pathogen DNA present but pathogens not alive. Overall, pathogens in the cultivated algae do not seem to be significantly different or lower than in the digestate used as substrate.

Even though only Cooperl was taking ABP inputs (manure), it would have been useful to know whether or not the anaerobic digestors were operated to EU Animal By-Product (ABP) Regulation End-Point sanitisation requirements (standard transformation parameters for biogas transformation residues as specified in Section 1 of Chapter III of Annex V to Regulation (EU) No 142/2011), in that digestate from digesters operated to such requirements should have safe levels of pathogens. This information was not available. Nevertheless, all three anaerobic digester plants confirmed compliance with national legislation for use of their digestate  as fertiliser

The project concludes that pathogen levels are generally safe in algae cultivated in filtered digestate from AD plants taking manure or food waste as inputs.

The ALG-AD project considered the regulatory status of digestate-grown algae, concluding that:

  • Use in animal feed of algae grown using manure (Cat. 2 ABP) digestate as substrate, is prohibited by the Animal By-Products Regulation 1069/2009 art. 31 and by the Animal Feed Regulation 767/2009, which prohibits the use of manure “irrespective of any form of treatment”.
  • Algae species to be used as feed material must be notified if not listed in the “Catalogue of Feed Materials” (Regulation 2017/1017 updating 68/2013) or the “Feed Materials Register”. The species utilised in ALG-AD are included in these lists, so can be used, subject to appropriate safety measures.
  • Different regulations are potentially applicable to the use of algae and algae extracts in animal feed, for different categories of animals (farmed, pets, zoo, fur animals), for feed additives, for compound feed or medicated feed. This makes any use of digestate-grown algae very complex.
  • Algae can be labelled as “Organic”, but the Regulation listing authorised inputs in Organic Farming 2021/1165 specifies that only certain “fertilisers … and nutrients” may be used for algae cultivation. This Regulation authorises the use of “Biogas digestate containing animal by-products co-digested with material of plant or animal origin …” with “Factory farming origin forbidden”

ALG-AD (Interreg) project website.and “Safety Analysis” report https://www.researchgate.net/project/ALG-AD-3

 

Long-term land use of sewage biosolids and antimicrobial resistance

Four decades of sewage sludge application to cropland near Malmö, Sweden, shows not to modify soil antibiotic resistance bacteria or gene levels, and does not result in levels of concern of copper or zinc. Soil was tested in a field trial plot where sewage biosolids have been applied every four years 1981 – 2017 (up to 12 t/ha dry weight per application) and a range of crops grown, before and two weeks after the 2017 biosolids application, also with comparison to application of nitrogen fertiliser. Raw, digested and stored sludge were also analysed. Analyses covered bioavailable copper and zinc (which are known to cause selection for antibiotic resistance, see Song 2017 in ESPP eNews n°54), 16 antibiotic molecules compounds metagenomics (DNA indicative of MRG and BRG = metal and biocide resistance genes), ampicillin-, tetracycline- and -resistance E. coli (bacterial colony cultivation). None of the tested antibiotics were found in soil prior to the 2017 biosolids amendment, showing that these pharmaceuticals were not persistent in soil. The antibiotics were found in some samples 15 days after biosolids application (and in no samples which had not received biosolids) however no significant changes in ARG -antibiotic resistance genes) were found in soils having received biosolids, neither before nor after the 2017 biosolids application. Also, bacterial cultivation also revealed no sign of antibiotic resistance related to biosolids application. Bioavailable copper and zinc levels found in biosolids amended soils were considered too low to exert antibiotic resistance selection pressure. The authors conclude that, under the conditions tested, there is no indication of risks of antibiotic resistance development in soils due to sewage biosolids application.

“Long-term application of Swedish sewage sludge on farmland does not cause clear changes in the soil bacterial resistome”, C. Rutgersson et al., Environment International 137 (2020) 105339 DOI.

Review: climate change – eutrophication feedback

Review of nearly 200 scientific publications summarises how climate change enhances eutrophication and how eutrophied aquatic systems contribute to greenhouse emissions. See also SCOPE Newsletter n°137 on climate change and eutrophication. Climate change can both increase nutrient inputs to surface waters and weaken resilience to eutrophication:

  • Droughts and increased temperature (which accelerates evaporation) reduce river flow and dilution, and so make water bodies more susceptible to eutrophication, especially in subtropical and Mediterranean regions.
  • Increased precipitation leads to increased phosphorus loads to surface waters, e.g. +30% higher P losses to water by 2050 in temperate watersheds.
  • Ash loads to water bodies, following wildfires, accentuate eutrophication problems.
  • Warming can accelerate internal nutrient release in lakes, with increased decomposition of organic matter and stratification.
  • Warming can decrease resilience of water bodies to eutrophication by damaging riparian vegetation and by modifying fish, invertebrate (algae grazers) and plant communities.

Eutrophication feeds back to climate change, because it leads to water browning or anoxia, causing release of carbon dioxide and methane (see SCOPE Newsletter n°135).

A number of studies are cited which show that climate warming increases cyanobacteria (blue green algae), including experimental warming trials, sediment analysis and modelling. Also, warming and eutrophication together can increase release of toxins by cyanobacteria.

The authors conclude by underlining the importance of reducing nutrient losses to surface waters, and of developing ecosystem reliance mechanisms, such as buffer vegetation and landscape connectivity with water bodies, and of maintaining and restoring biodiversity.

“Feedbacks between climate change and eutrophication: revisiting the allied attack concept and how to strike back”, M. Meerhoff et al., Inland Waters, 2022, DOI.

 

 

Chronic drought reduces soil P storage

16 year field trial in natural Mediterranean forest shows that 30% reduction of rainfall resulted in significant reductions of soil microbe biomass C and N, and even greater and more chronic (less seasonal) reduction in biomass P. Previous work shows that drought – flooding alternations cause reduced P storage and increased P losses from soils (Khan in ESPP eNews n°62 and Bi in eNews n°63). This study used eight 10x15m plots in Mediterranean natural holm oak forest in Catalonia, Spain. For 16 years, half the plots received natural rainfall, the remained -30% rainfall. This reduced soil moisture by mean -15%. After 16 years, soil microbial biomass was sampled four times over the year, showing considerable reductions in microbial carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in all four seasons, with carbon particularly reduced in summer, nitrogen particularly reduced in winter and phosphorus very considerably reduced (more than 4x reduction in winter, more than 2x reduction in summer). Microbial biomass P was sensitive to the long-term drought conditions, whereas C and N were more related to seasonal changes in water availability. The drought conditions resulted in N tending to be present in carbon-rich organic compounds, not mineralised, so less plant available, during the growing season, meaning potentially higher risks of nitrogen losses from soil.

“Seasonal drought in Mediterranean soils mainly changes microbial C and N contents whereas chronic drought mainly impairs the capacity of microbes to retain P”, S. Mara˜n´on-Jim´enez et al., Soil Biology and Biochemistry 165 (2022) 108515, DOI.

 

 

Phosphorus and health

Phosphorus is essential for human health but studies continue to show that high levels of blood P are linked to heart disease, but without evidence that high food P intake is the cause, rather than body metabolism factors. Xia et al. 2022 analysis of UK data on 296 415 participants, free of prior heart disease, showed that higher levels of initial serum P (measured one time) were associated with increased risk of diagnosed aortic stenosis (narrowing of heart valve), within an average 8 year follow-up and after adjustment for cofounders, irrespective of kidney function. No association was found for serum calcium or vitamin D. The authors note that the results of this very large cohort study are coherent withy previous studies* showing a statistical link between blood phosphorus levels and risk of CVD (cardio vascular disease) and that the mechanism may be precipitation of calcium phosphate in arteries and valves.

The human body needs around 0.7gP/person/day to stay healthy US Recommended Daily Allowance). The European Food Safety Agency estimates average EU P intake in diet at c. 1.6 gP/person/day (see ESPPeNews n°34) and has fixed an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of c. 2.8 gP/day.

To ESPP’s understanding, there is no clear evidence today that increased P in diet leads to increased baseline blood phosphorus (fasting serum P = before breakfast in the morning). Phosphorus ingested in meals will increase serum P for up to 6 hours after the meal (e.g. Hazim 2014 and Anderson 2013 review).

* recently e.g. Lv 2021, Poudel 2020, and Cozzolino 2019 review

“Association of serum levels of calcium phosphate and vitamin D with risk of developing aortic stenosis: the UK Biobank cohort”, C. Xia et al., European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, zwac016, 2022 DOI.

 

 

High phosphorus diet does not show glucose impairment in mouse trial

A fourteen-week trial with mice showed impaired glucose tolerance and increased body fat with a high-fat diet but no such negative impacts with a high-phosphorus diet. The impacts of the high-fat diet were mitigated by exercise. The high-P diet had twice the normal diet P level, the high fat diet had five times the normal diet fat calory level. The high-fat diet mice showed significantly increased body fat and impaired glucose and insulin tolerance, whereas the high-P diet had no effect on these parameters. The high-P diet mice showed increased RER (respiratory exchange ratio = CO2 out / O2 in), indicative of consuming more carbohydrate than fat, after feeding, but not after fasting. Overall, the authors conclude that in this study high-P diet did not negatively impact glucose metabolism in sedentary or exercise conditions.

“Distinct Effects of High-Fat and High-Phosphate Diet on Glucose Metabolism and the Response to Voluntary Exercise in Male Mice”, P. Vidal et al., Nutrients 2022, 14, 1201. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14061201

 

 

Identifying key flows for P-stewardship action in Germany

A study of phosphorus flows in Germany identifies key points for improving the P cycle as reducing farm run-off, manure processing, phytate enzyme use in animal feed and P-recovery from slaughterhouse wastes. Such savings could on paper approximately replace all import of phosphorus into Germany which is around 300 ktP/y (around 120 ktP/y as mineral P in fertilisers or other products, around 180 ktP/y in imported food or in animal feed materials). Around 180 ktP/y is estimated to be lost annually in Germany in run-off to surface waters, mainly from agriculture and for a small amount from sewage works. The authors estimated that around 49 ktP/y can potentially be recovered and recycled from sewage sludge and 70 – 80 ktP/y from slaughterhouse wastes (animal by-products, in particular meat and bone meal ash). The authors suggest that current P losses from agriculture (180 ktP/y) could be reduced to 65 ktP/y by improved soil management, slow-release fertilisers and targeted fertiliser application, but this is an estimate not based on data or modelling. They also suggest that over 120 ktP/y could be recycled by processing manure to improve manure nutrient application and crop use, based on 90% of P in manure. This assumes that manure nutrients are today not recycled: a significant part of manure does today go back to land but often not in a place or time or form adapted to crop needs. The authors also suggest that P use efficiency of vegetable materials used to feed livestock could be increased from 40% to 80% by enzyme (phytate) and other pre-treatments (see below), so saving 65 ktP/y use in animal feed, and also reducing P content of manure. They suggest that this lower P content and more plant-available forms of phosphorus in manure will result in improved fertiliser efficiency (ESPP note: Toor & Sims suggest that manure with lower P:carbon ratio increases P losses). Overall the paper identifies as the key action points to improve phosphorus use in Germany and reduce dependency on imports: agricultural management to reduce field losses, manure processing to improve crop phosphorus use efficiency, animal feed P use efficiency and P-recovery from animal by-products.

“Closing the phosphorus cycle: Current P balance and future prospects in Germany”, N. Mayer & M. Kaltschmitt, Journal of Cleaner Production 347 (2022) 131272, DOI.

 

 

 

Enzyme pre-conditioning of pig and poultry feed

A review on phosphorus in animal feeds suggests that phytase enzyme pre-treatment of cereal-based animal feeds, combined with acid treatment or germination, could significantly increase phosphorus use efficiency in livestock. The paper overviews the question of phosphorus in inositol phosphates (phytate) in animal feeds (see SCOPE Newsletter n°74), noting that 20% – 80% of P in seeds and cereals is in the form of phytate, which is poorly digestible for monogastrics (which include humans, pigs, poultry). The paper notes that phytase enzymes are already today widely added to livestock diets to improve gut uptake of P contained in phytate, but do not specify how effective this is in improving P uptake. In ESPP eNews n°47, Olsen reported trials showing 12% - 50% increases in feed P digestibility with addition of phytase to feed. In order to avoid loss of effectiveness of phytase enzyme resulting from breakdown or deactivation in the digestive tract, the authors suggest pre-conditioning of cereal-based livestock feeds, for example by mechanical separation of different parts of seeds or debranning, germination of seeds, treatment with phytase enzymes, chemical or temperature hydrolysis. No data is given as to relative effectiveness of enzymatic pre-treatment compared to enzyme addition in feed, whereas chemical / pH / heat treatment, with or without enzymes, can render >90% of phytate digestible.

“Review. Conditioning of Feed Material Prior to Feeding: Approaches for a Sustainable Phosphorus Utilization”, N. Widderich et al., Sustainability 2022, 14, 3998, DOI.

 

Anaerobic digestion and pharmaceuticals in manures

Anaerobic digestion of manures showed highly variable effectiveness in degrading different pharmaceuticals and different antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Higher temperatures (thermophilic 55°C compared to mesophilic 35°C, 10-day bottle tests) generally resulted in significantly better removal of pharmaceuticals, but this was not always the case for ARGs. 9 out of 24 pharmaceuticals analysed were found in the poultry manure: one anthelmintic drug (i.e. against worms) and eight antibiotics, in particular fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines. 14 of the 24 pharmaceuticals analysed were found in cattle manure: 1 analgesic (painkiller), 1 anthelmintic and 12 antibiotics. The most present pharmaceutical in poultry manure and second-most in cattle manure was chlortetracycline, with concentrations in the solid fractions of manures of nearly 9 000 and nearly 1 000 µg/kg respectively. This pharmaceutical is recognised as problematic because it is widely used and has a relatively long environmental remanence. Removal in the anaerobic digestion was 40-50% at 35°C and around 80% at 55°C. Certain antibiotic resistance genes were largely removed in the digestion (e.g. qnrS) whereas levels of others were not significantly between digester input and output.

“Occurrence of veterinary drugs and resistance genes during anaerobic digestion of poultry and cattle manures”, S. Zahadi et al., Science of The Total Environment, Volume 822, 20 May 2022, 153477 DOI.

 

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews064
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War in Europe

ESPP job offer

Calls
PERM5 call for abstracts: phosphorus research and innovation
PERM5 session on fertilisers from dairy industrial wastes
Call for input: Legacy Phosphorus in Soils
Survey on biofertilisers

Phosphorus events
ESPC4 20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online
Phosphates 2022

EU consultations
Digestate processing and other adjustments to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation
EU public consultation: mercury
EU public consultation: soil health
EU public consultation: biodegradable and biobased plastics
EU public consultation: antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
ESPP input submitted to EU consultation on the Waste Framework Directive
EU workshops on R&I needs to support soil and land use policies

Nutrient recovery
New process to recover White Phosphorus without coke or electric heating
Improving agronomic value of digestate nitrogen
Using ammonia for decomposing bio-plastic to fertilising products

Research
Climate change and environmental impacts of sewage works discharge
Recycling oyster shells to phosphate-based dental fillings
Waste biomass as carbon source for possible P recovery from steel slag
Biostimulants and bio-inputs to agriculture
Indicators for resource recovery in wastewater management
Global consortium to develop an open source database of crop nutrient removal

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

War in Europe

We cannot publish this eNews without expressing our deepest concern about the suffering of the people of Ukraine and the death and destruction caused by the war launched by the President of the Russian Federation.

This war is susceptible to have considerable impacts on fertiliser supply, and so ultimately on food production in Europe. Prices of fertilisers, already high (see “Supply challenges” ESPP eNews n°62), are expected to rise further, in particular nitrogen fertilisers because natural gas is used to produce ammonia. Russia and the Ukraine were in the past also respectively the world’s biggest and third or fourth (depending on the year) wheat exporters.

To ESPP’s understanding, as this eNews was published, fertilisers and food products are not directly concerned by EU trade sanctions on Russia implemented to date. However, sanctions to the Russian financial system, logistic or other factors may make trade difficult or impossible.

ESPP estimates that the EU, before the attack on Ukraine, imported over 1 billion € of phosphate rock or phosphorus value in fertilisers (including compound fertilisers, e.g. NPK). This is of a similar order to value of EU imports from Russia of aluminium or of steel, around 10 x lower than the value of the EU’s natural gas imports from Russia (see Politico 25/2/22). One estimate suggests that Russia accounted, before attacking Ukraine, for nearly 20% of global phosphate fertilisers trade (inc. compound fertilisers), and that 30% of Russia’s phosphate fertiliser exports are to the EU.

This is however nothing to the suffering of Ukraine and its citizens and the risks to global security.

 

 

ESPP job offer

espp job offerOpen to 8h March. ESPP is looking to engage a Brussels representative, full or part time. Your role will be to develop networking, industry participation and Platform membership, including widening ESPP’s scope beyond phosphorus to recovery of nitrogen and other nutrients. We are looking for someone who can analyse and communicate technical, scientific and regulatory information on phosphorus, nutrients and recycling, who is motivated for environmental objectives and combines a business-development and an association consensus culture. Minimum 5 years’ experience and existing network. Employment could be as salaried staff, consultant status or shared staff with another organisation having similar objectives.

Full job description here www.phosphorusplatform.eu/joboffer2022
Send CV to   by 8th March 2022.

 

 

Calls

 

PERM5 call for abstracts: phosphorus research and innovation

Call open to 8th March 2022.

Perm 5 news 63ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022, making the link between R&D, industry and policy (summary of PERM4, June 2021, 370 participants, in SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

PERM5 sessions proposed include: nutrient recovery in the dairy industry, iron and phosphorus interactions, new fertilisers and biostimulants to improve crop nutrient uptake, Farm-to-Fork Zero Pollution: reducing P losses from agriculture, nature based solutions, decentralised sanitation / separative urine systems, nutrient flow studies …

PERM5 session on fertilisers from dairy industrial wastes.

Call open to 20th March 2022.

Presentations or posters are invited for a session on current and potential development of phosphorus fertilizers produced from dairy processing waste at PERM5, Vienna, 22nd June 2022. Deadline for this session (only) of PERM5 is extended to 20th March 2022. Papers on this theme already submitted will be considered (no need to resubmit). Abstract submission instructions are on the ESPC4 website. This session is co-organized by the MSCA European Training Network REFLOW (814258) focused on this area. The session will display research from various disciplines on the phosphorus flow from dairy industrial wastes back to soil. In addition to presentations and posters selected from abstracts received, the session will cover the use of enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) for dairy processing wastes, combined freeze concentration and membrane filtration for cheese whey treatment, hydrothermal carbonisation with struvite precipitation. Research on the field application of sludge and hydrochar fertilisers will show differences in emissions and recovered fertilizer impact. Results will show the implications of heavy metal contents on legal compliance of novel fertilizers recovered from dairy processing wastes. Research will cover sustainability assessments of the recovery system, from the treatment of the industrial wastewater to the use of the recovered phosphorus, including Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) assessments of multiple scenarios will also be presented.

Call for abstracts for PERM5 (22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online) deadline 8th March 2022

(deadline for the dairy industry processing waste session: 20th March 2022)

Abstract submission instructions https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

Call for input: Legacy Phosphorus in Soils

Over 560 participants joined the ESPP- BOKU webinar on the impacts of reducing “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils, 2nd February 2022, with a very active oral and online chat discussion. As proposed, ESPP will now engage a working group and workshop to write an operational definition of “Legacy P” (input is welcome). The webinar will be followed by SCOPE Newsletter special issue, summarising the webinar presentations and discussions, and also summarising a selection of scientific papers and other reports relevant to Legacy P.

Webinar presentation slides, video recording, Chat transcript are now available here  www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

Please send papers for consideration for inclusion to

 

 

Survey on biofertilisers

A user survey on biofertilisers is open by ELO, dlv, REFLOW, FertiCycle and Ghent University HERE. The aim is to collect information on user attitudes and willingness to pay for bio-sourced fertilisers. A survey on bio-based fertilisers was also organised by Fertimanure in 2021, see ESPP eNews n°53.

 

 

 

Phosphorus events

 

ESPC4
espc4 enews 58 220-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

 

Phosphates 2022

cru Phosphates 2022 27 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida and online.
The global phosphate industrial and business conference,

10% discount for ESPP members: request the code from ESPP.

CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

 

 

EU consultations

 

Digestate processing and other adjustments to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation

Open to  9th March 2022, EU public consultation on conditions for authorising “post-processed” digestate, (including nitrogen recovery) in the Fertilising Products Regulation, and on various other technical adjustments. For digestates (CMC4 and CMC5) the proposed amendment, which follows from questions and proposals submitted to the European Commission by ESPP and EBA (European Biogas Association) enables certain post-processing of digestates (treatments after the anaerobic digester itself), that is, the use in CE-fertilisers of digestates conform to CMC4 or CMC5 criteria after:

  • Mechanical solid - liquid separation, with use of up to 5% additives necessary for the solid-liquid separation, e.g. coagulants or polymers (subject to REACH registration of the additive where appropriate),
  • Physical processing to remove water (where the process does not chemically modify the digestate),
  • Removal of soluble ammonium to recover nitrogen.

ESPP notes that (to our understanding):

  • Recovered nitrogen products (resulting from the ammonia removal above) are expected to be covered by the proposed new CMC15 (see ESPP eNews n°63) subject to purity and other requirements.
  • Mechanical conditioning of digestate (fractions), such as drying (low or ambient temperature, solar), compacting, pelletising or granulation, removal of fibres … are not cited in the proposed amendments. ESPP will request that the eligibility of such processes, which are standard fertilising product conditioning processes, be clarified in the European Commission’s “Frequently Answered Questions” (FAQ).
  • Addition of a chemical to adjust the pH of digestate is considered to be a combination of two CMCs (digestate fraction, pH additive chemical), that is the chemical itself must be CMC (e.g. CMC1).
  • Non-mechanical post-processing treatments of digestate, such as ion removal by precipitation, ion exchange, adsorption, plasma treatment, electrostatic separation … are NOT covered by the amendments, and digestate (fractions) after such treatments cannot be included in CE-fertilisers.

ESPP notes that post-processing of composts CMC3 (e.g. dewatering) is NOT covered by the proposed amendments, presumably because the compost industry did not indicate that such processes could be relevant for placing composts on the market.

The other technical adjustments include text clarifications concerning nitrification inhibitors and specifying how efficiency is tested for such products (which aim to reduce nitrate leaching risk) and adjustments to ensure coherence with other existing EU texts or with the FPR itself: registration requirements for magnesia and for polymers, PCB limits in pyrolysis and gasification materials, conformity assessment of biostimulants.

EU public consultation open to 9th March 2022 “Fertilising products - technical amendments to the rules” HERE.

 

 

EU public consultation: mercury

Open to 3 May 2022. Consultation questions whether mercury should be banned in dental fillings and emissions from crematoria limited. Both actions would significantly reduce mercury levels in sewage and biosolids. Around 1/5th of global mercury use is in dental amalgam (fillings). Dental amalgam is the largest source of mercury to sewage biosolids, mainly from losses during use by dentists*. The European Commission states that in 2018 dental amalgam was the largest remaining application of mercury in the EU (following bans in electronics, thermometers, …) and that emissions from dental clinics have been reduced by an obligation to install filters. However, mercury in dental amalgam also reaches sewage and the environment with small emissions in urine and faeces** and in exhaled breath* of people with mercury in their teeth, and with significant emissions from crematoria originating from amalgam in teeth. The EU consultation documents cites OSPAR/HELCOM as identifying crematoria as a significant atmospheric emission of mercury, part of which will also reach sewage after falling back to land or water. To date, mercury is banned in amalgam for certain sensitive persons and alternatives exist (HCWH 2019). ESPP will input to the EU consultation supporting a ban on mercury amalgam (except in specific cases where there is no medical alternative) because mercury in sewage is an obstacle to some routes of reuse and recycling of sewage sludge nutrients and carbon.

* Vazquez Tibau “Mercury contamination from dental amalgam”, DOI citing Eureau 2016, US EPA 2019

** see e.g. Björkman 1997 DOI Dye 2005 DOI.

EU public consultation, open to 3 May 2022 “Mercury – review of EU law” HERE.

 

 

EU public consultation: soil health

Open to 16th March 2022. Call for evidence and input on orientations for a proposed EU Soil Health Directive, addressing questions including land take, nutrient losses, soil erosion, pollutant contamination. ESPP is preparing a submission to underline (subject to comments and input): that soil health is important to reducing losses of phosphorus and nitrogen to water (eutrophication) and that climate change will accentuate nutrient losses, the potential for returning organic carbon to land in nutrient recycling (digestates, composts, organic fertilisers), the importance of reducing or banning soil contaminants (e.g. PFAS, mercury). ESPP will also underline that a Soil Health Directive should ensure comparable constraints, including level cost playing field, for imported products, in order to avoid “export” outside the EU of soil degradation related to EU consumption of food, animal feed or consumer products.

To 16th march 2022 EU better regulation ‘Have your Say’ website LINK.

 

 

EU public consultation: biodegradable and biobased plastics

Open to 15th March 2022. ESPP will input that, to avoid obstacles to nutrient recycling, “biodegradable” plastics should be compatible with anaerobic digestion, and that plastic additives and microplastics should non-toxic. ESPP’s proposed position (open to comment) is that, because “biodegradable” plastics and microplastics are found in sewage sludge and food wastes, full degradability (to CO2 in composting or to methane in anaerobic digestion, or to agronomically valuable materials for return of nutrients and organic carbon to soil) should be required in both composting (in conditions of both industrial and household/garden composting) and in anaerobic digestion.  Microplastics are a significant concern for contamination of organic waste streams and a potential obstacle to the nutrient Circular Economy and to the return of carbon to soils. EU chemical policy should phase out or restrict consumer or industrial chemicals which are found in microplastics or in sewage sludge and which pose potential toxicity or soil- or bio-accumulation issues. Should be addressed in particular PFAS/PFOS and other halogenated compounds, cadmium in artists paints, mercury in dental amalgam.

To 15th March 2022 “European Green Deal: Commission launches public consultation on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics” LINK.

 

 

EU public consultation: antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Open to 24th March 2022. The proposed roadmap notes that inappropriate use of antibiotics in animals and humans is a key driver, but does not refer to implications for the Circular Economy due to contamination of manure and sewage. ESPP proposes (subject to comment and input) to input underlining that AMR in manure and sewage biosolids is a potential obstacle to nutrient recycling and to the return of organic carbon to soil, because of risk or perceived risk. ESPP proposes: as first priority to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics, especially in livestock; to fix thresholds for antibiotic release from hospitals and livestock production; to develop where possible biodegradable antibiotic molecules, to harmonise reporting of AMR and to develop robust risk assessments of AMR in soil and crops; to develop processes to degrade and remove pharmaceuticals in sewage and manure treatment, including composting and anaerobic digestion.

To 24th March 2022, EU consultation “Antimicrobial resistance – recommendation for greater action” LINK.

 

 

 

ESPP input submitted to EU consultation on the Waste Framework Directive

ESPP underlined the need to improve (e.g. with legally binding targets) prevention and separate collection of food waste and organics, to facilitate nutrient recycling, and noted the need for clarification of definitions of biowaste, for example concerning food industry and animal feed processing wastes and sludges. ESPP pointed to studies suggesting that global food waste contributes 8% of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions, c. 60 000 tP/y lost in food waste for the EU27, phosphorus in food waste represents 120 days of nutrition P requirements, and that the P-footprint of food waste in China is c. 16% of fertiliser use.

EU public consultation on revision of the Waste Framework Directive, closed 22nd February 2022 LINK to submissions received.

 

 

EU workshops on R&I needs to support soil and land use policies

Workshops on 7th and 8th March 2022 (both 14h – 17h CET online) to validate the research gap analysis to define an R&I Roadmap for sustainable soil and land management for the Horizon Europe Mission “A soil deal for Europe”.

Register here. Soil Mission Support www.soilmissionsupport.eu

 

 

 

Nutrient recovery

 

 

New process to recover White Phosphorus without coke or electric heating

nutrient recoverySTOWA has published a report on lab tests and thermodynamic modelling of Spodofos (Thermus BV), a new process to produce elemental P4 from secondary materials using waste aluminium as the energy source. Secondary aluminium (post-consumer, low quality) is heated to c. 600°C with a dry secondary material containing phosphorus, e.g. sewage sludge incineration ash, bone meal or precipitated phosphate salts. This causes a solid-solid, thermite reaction (exothermic), which raises the temperature to > 1800°C without further input of electricity nor coke. Unlike in conventional P4 reducing furnaces (using coke and electricity), pre-sintering of the input materials is not necessary, and carbon-monoxide is not generated. External heat energy is only needed for preheating the input materials, because of the intrinsic energy content of the secondary aluminium. The process has been tested at the lab scale (100g) and pilot development is now planned. The STOWA report concludes that feasibility is shown by thermodynamical modelling and expert evaluation of the laboratory experiments, but that additional tests may be needed to assess how the process can deal with iron (comes out as low value by-product, ferrophosphorus) and contaminants such as zinc, copper, arsenic. Scale-up will require development of specific reaction mixture conditioning and furnace. Economic feasibility will probably depend on the price of the aluminium scrap and the possible value of the high aluminium slag generated, in which contaminants are immobilised by high-temperature vitrification.

STOWA (Netherlands water boards’ joint research foundation) report (in Dutch) 5th January 2022

 

 

Improving agronomic value of digestate nitrogen

N2 Applied (an ESPP member) starts plasma treatment at More Biogas’ plant, Småland, Southern Sweden, a 90 000 t/y manure and food waste plant, where N2 Applied stabilises and enhances nitrogen in the liquid fraction of digestate. This produces a stable agronomic product adapted to farmers needs and crop nutrient requirements. This is with the BalticWaters2030 project “Circular NP” and with the More Biogas company, owned principally by some twenty chicken, pig and cow farmers around Förlösa, Läckeby and Rockneby  north of Kalmar, Sweden. The N2 Applied process (see ESPP-DPP-NNP Nutrient Recovery Technology Catalogue) uses electricity (preferably renewable) to stabilise nitrogen in organic wastes (manure, digestate …) to ammonium nitrate, by combination with atmospheric N2, so also enhancing the nitrogen content (better balancing nutrients to plant requirements), lowering pH and reducing ammonia and greenhouse emissions. In addition to this nitrogen-rich liquid fertiliser, the NP project aims to develop a phosphorus-rich solid organic fertiliser product from the solid fraction of the digestate.

Circular NP project, with Horizon2020, Baltic Waters, SLU (Swedish Agricultural University), RISE Sweden, Swedish Farmers' Foundation for Agricultural Research https://n2applied.com/2021/11/24/more-biogas/

 

 

Using ammonia for decomposing bio-plastic to fertilising products

Ammonia is shown to completely degrade the bio-based polymer PIC to produce urea and the isosorbide monomer (ISB, a sugar). The resulting urea + ISB showed to be an effective fertiliser, with the ISB enhancing plant nitrogen use. PIC, poly (isosorbide carbonate), is a bio-based plastic based on isosorbide (ISB), which is derived from glucose. Tests showed complete degradation of PIC to ISB by reacting with aqueous ammonia solution at 90°C for 6 hours, without solvent or catalyst. Such ammonolysis (using ammonia to break down polymers) is a known reaction. This study showed that the resulting material, a mixture of urea and ISB monomer, could be directly used as a fertiliser in pot trials with Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress). The generated material showed the same N-fertiliser effectiveness as commercial urea, and the ICB enhanced the fertiliser effectiveness, presumably acting as a biostimulant. ESPP notes that these results may not transpose to more widely used or synthetic polymers, and that it could be considered preferable to re-use the ISB monomer in plastics production rather than putting it on soil. The title of the paper is misleading in that the nitrogen is not recycled but comes from ‘virgin’ ammonia.

“Plastics to fertilizers: chemical recycling of a bio-based polycarbonate as a fertilizer source”, T. Abe et al., Green Chemistry issue 22, 2021 DOI.

 

 

 

 

Research

 

Climate change and environmental impacts of sewage works discharge

Modelling in Central – Western Europe suggests that climate change will result in significant ecological risk from discharges from sewage works into smaller waterways for phosphorus, and especially for ammonia. The study was based on data from the Rhine, Elbe and Weser catchments, which have significantly differing climate and hydrological responses, excluding Switzerland (which does not report data to the EU) and France (nutrient discharge data not reported), covering around 3200 sewage works (wwtps) in Germany, Czech Republic and The Netherlands. Sewage works were classified into five sizes (population served). Sewage works discharge was matched to river flow at wwtp discharge point, based on a 5 km grid hydrological model (mHM) and the GFDL(ESM2M/RCP8.5 3K greenhouse warming scenario. Results suggest that wwtp discharge will cause ecological risk to prevail in the future in smaller watercourses, for all sizes of wwtp (and in particular for wwtps 5 000 – 100 000 p.e.).. The risks from ammonia discharge were highest because of emissions from smaller wwtp. The authors conclude that sewage treatment legislation needs to strongly take into account the capacity of the receiving watercourse (ESPP note: this is the case in the Water Framework Directive, but not in the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive) and that regulation should be developed for ammonia in discharges from small wwtps.

“What Determines the Future Ecological Risks of Wastewater Discharges in River Networks: Load, Location or Climate Change?”, S. Yang et al., EarthArXiv preprint 2022 https://doi.org/10.31223/X5X062

 

 

Recycling oyster shells to phosphate-based dental fillings

Sintered oyster shells were reacted with phosphoric acid to produce hydroxyapatite (HAP = calcium phosphate) then combined with zinc phosphate to produce a dental cement material. Calcium phosphate is the main constituent of bones and teeth and hydroxyapatite can bond onto this. Here, HAP was produced by cleaning, grinding and then sintering (900°C) waste oyster shells (Crassostrea madrasensis) to produce CaO, which was then reacted with phosphoric acid with pH maintained at 8 – 10 to control the Ca:P stoichiometric ratio. The precipitated HAP was then again sintered at 800°C resulting in a material similar to Ca5(PO4)3(OH)2.. Zinc phosphate was prepared by reacting zinc metal with phosphoric acid. The zinc phosphate and HAP were then ceramified at 1000°C with traces of magnesium, silicate and aluminium, with mixtures of 0 – 50% HAP / 100 – 50% zinc phosphate. Lab tests suggested that the recycled HAP was comparable to commercial HAP and could be incorporated into zinc phosphate dental cement, maintaining or improving mechanical properties and elution (risk of dissolution of the filling in the mouth).

“Development of a Novel Dental Filling Using Hydroxyapatite Derived from Waste Oyster Shells”, M. Uresha et al., J. Technology and Value Addition, Volume 3 (1), 2021: (1-18) LINK.

 

 

Waste biomass as carbon source for possible P recovery from steel slag

Risk husk waste, after pyrolysis, showed to remove c. 80% of phosphorus from synthetic steel slag with c. 4%P at 1500°C, but the resulting phosphorus was bound to iron so would not be directly useable as a fertiliser. The waste rice husk from agri-food industry was first carbonised (pyrolyzed) by heating to 450 – 600 °C in anoxic condition, to increase its carbon content and reactivity. It was then mixed with 20g of synthetic steel slag (industrial steel slag was not used because of its high variability) and heated to 1500°C for 30 minutes with a 3:1 carbon:P ratio (c. 10:1 carbonised rice husk:P).The iron depleted slag could be used as a raw material for steel production, with high calcium and silicon, so without pre(slagging. The phosphorus was removed from the slag as particles of iron-phosphorus compounds, mainly Fe3P, with P content of 2 – 12 %. The authors suggest that this could processed to fertiliser (citing Morita 2002).

“Effective removal of phosphorus from high phosphorus steel slag using carbonized rice husk”, Z. Wang et al., J Environmental Scient 124(2023) 156-164 DOI.

 

 

Biostimulants and bio-inputs to agriculture

Workshop of over 250 participants concludes the need for more biologically integrated agriculture and harmonised regulations and definitions for biostimulants, biological crop protectants and soil improvers. The workshop proposed a definition of ‘bio-intensification’ as achieving adequate yields from minimum land area by increasing and sustaining biodiversity and soil fertility. Biostimulants and soil improvers were defined as per the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (2019/1009). Bio-protectants were defined as various biocontrol agents (including “botanicals” – which are not defined in the article). Definitions clearly do pose a problem, in that the article uses the term ‘bio-fertiliser’ to mean ‘bio-stimulant’, whereas many authors use this term to mean fertilisers derived from biological materials or organic wastes. The article notes that the EU Fertilising Product Regulation defines ‘biostimulants’ by the claim to “stimulate plant nutrition processes” but without requirements of efficacy or composition. Bioprotectants, on the other hand, face high registration costs under the EU 1107/2009 (Plant Protection Products). Nonetheless, there are over 1 600 such products on the market in the EU, nearly 90% of which from SMEs (source: IBMA International Biocontrol Manufacturers Association). Overall, the workshop concluded that bio-inputs inputs cannot completely replace agrochemicals without changing farm production systems.

“Biostimulants, soil improvers, bioprotectants: promoters of bio‑intensification in plant production”, F. Feldmann et al., J. Plant Diseases and Protection, 2022 DOI.

 

 

Indicators for resource recovery in wastewater management

The Circular Economy Monitoring Framework does not to date consider resources from wastewater. This paper summarises literature, outlines key questions and proposes indicators for wastewater treatment circularity. Identified publications on indicators related to the wastewater sector have significantly increased since around 2014, with very 0 - 2 per year before that, up to 20 in 2021. Identified indicators include wastewater treatment (e.g. organic matter removal), chemical usage in treatment, biogas production, nutrient recovery. Recommendations are made for the design of indicators of wastewater management circularity: address both local and global dimensions of circular economy, need for a range of indicators enabling selection of indicators relevant for a given context (e.g. quality and contaminant indicators relevant for sewage sludge will be different if the destination is incineration or land valorisation), use of appropriate units, coverage of the whole wastewater generation - collection - treatment cycle. A simple proposed indicator set is outlined: rate of recovery of nutrients (N and P), rate of recovery of organic matter (valorised to soil), reuse of treated wastewater (internally within the wwtp or for fertigation or other local needs), energy self-sufficiency (taking into account energy produced). It is noted however that questions such as bio-availability of recovered nutrients should also be considered. The weighting of different indicators will depend on the local situation (e.g. in some regions water reuse is more important than in others). The authors note that the development of appropriate and recognised indicators of wastewater management circularity is important to increase business and social awareness and acceptance of recycling of wastewater-derived materials and to support public policies for nutrient recycling.

“Indicators for resource recovery monitoring within the circular economy model implementation in the wastewater sector”, M. Preisner, M. Smol et al., J. Environmental Management 304 (2022) 114261 DOI.

 

 

Global consortium to develop an open source database of crop nutrient removal

The Consortium for Precision Crop Nutrition (CPCN), whose members are over 30 fertilisers companies, agricultural R&D institutes and global organisations, are collaborating on an open source, global crop nutrient removal database. The database will be used to improve estimates of crop nutrient removal and nutrient use efficiency at local to global levels. Input of field experiment data is invited.

Contact Wageningen WUR scientist Cameron Ludemann

 

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/           

Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

Twitter: @phosphorusfacts         
 

ESPP members

espp members

 

Public consultation on digestate and other adjustments

Open to  9th March 2022, EU public consultation on conditions for authorising “post-processed” digestate, including after nitrogen recovery, in the Fertilising Products Regulation, and on various other technical adjustments. For digestates (CMC4 and CMC5) the proposed amendment, which follows from questions and proposals submitted to the European Commission by ESPP and EBA (European Biogas Association) enables certain post-processing of digestates (treatments after the anaerobic digester itself), that is, the use in CE-fertilisers of digestates conform to CMC4 or CMC5 criteria after:

  • ·Mechanical solid - liquid separation, with use of up to 5% additives necessary for the solid-liquid separation, e.g. coagulants or polymers (subject to REACH registration of the additive where appropriate)
  • ·Physical processing to remove water (where the process does not chemically modify the digestate)
  • ·Removal of soluble ammonium to recover nitrogen

ESPP notes that (to our understanding):

  • Recovered nitrogen products (resulting from the ammonia removal above) are expected to be covered by the proposed new CMC15 (see ESPP eNews n°63) subject to purity and other requirements.
  • Mechanical conditioning of digestate (fractions), such as drying (low or ambient temperature, solar), compacting, pelletising or granulation, removal of fibres … are not cited in the proposed amendments. ESPP will request that the eligibility of such processes, which are standard fertilising product conditioning processes, be clarified in the European Commission’s “Frequently Answered Questions” (FAQ).
  • Addition of a chemical to adjust the pH of digestate is considered to be a combination of two CMCs (digestate fraction, pH additive), that is the chemical itself must be CMC (e.g. CMC1).
  • Chemical post-processing of digestate, such as ion removal by precipitation, ion exchange, adsorption, plasma treatment, electrostatic separation … are NOT covered by the amendments, and digestate (fractions) after such chemical processing cannot be included in CE-fertilisers

ESPP notes that post-processing of composts CMC3 (e.g. dewatering) is NOT covered by the proposed amendments, presumably because the compost industry did not indicate that such processes could be relevant for placing composts on the market.

The other adjustments include text clarifications concerning nitrification inhibitors and specifying how efficiency is tested for such products (which aim to reduce nitrate leaching risk) and adjustments to ensure coherence with other existing EU texts or of the FPR itself: registration requirements for magnesia and for polymers, PCB limits in pyrolysis and gasification materials, conformity assessment of biostimulants.

EU public consultation open to 9th March 2022 “Fertilising products - technical amendments to the rules” HERE.

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews063
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ESPP job offer

Calls and consultations
Call for abstracts open to 27/2/22: phosphorus research and innovation (PERM5)
Call for input: Legacy Phosphorus in Soils
EU public consultation on the Waste Framework Directive

ESPP to address nitrogen recycling

Phosphorus events
ESPC4 20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online
Phosphates 2022

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR)
CMCs for by-products & certain recovered minerals, inc. ammonium salts

Nutrient recycling
CCm to implement P and N recovery with Yorkshire Water
Ductor recycled nitrogen approved for use in US Organic Farming

Research
Biochar, organic carbon molecules and P-solubilisation
Phos4You final project report
Science summary on plant phosphorus and use efficiency
Phosphorus levels in Organic and conventional food products
Elevated CO2 increases soil P mineralisation but decreases plant-available P
Climate variation likely to increase soil phosphorus losses (bis)

Misleading research
Erroneous research paper on phosphates in food

Stay informed

ESPP members


ESPP job offer

espp job offerAre you looking for a new challenge in sustainability, with networking across industry, science and regulation? ESPP is looking to engage a Brussels representative, full or part time. Your role will be to develop networking, industry participation and Platform membership, including widening scope beyond phosphorus to recovery of nitrogen and other nutrients. We are looking for someone who can analyse and communicate technical, scientific and regulatory information on phosphorus, nutrients and recycling, who is motivated for environmental objectives and combines a business-development and an association consensus culture. Minimum 5 years’ experience, existing network Employment could be as salaried staff, consultant status or shared staff with another organisation having similar objectives.

Full job description here www.phosphorusplatform.eu/joboffer2022 Send CV to   before 5th March 2022.

Please pass on this information to potentially interested contacts.

 

 

Calls and consultations

 

Call for abstracts open to 27/2/22: phosphorus research and innovation (PERM5)

Perm 5 news 63ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022, making the link between R&D, industry and policy (summary of PERM4, June 2021, 370 participants, in SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

Sessions proposed include: nutrient recovery in the dairy industry, iron and phosphorus interactions, new fertilisers and biostimulants to improve crop nutrient uptake, Farm-to-Fork Zero Pollution: reducing P losses from agriculture, nature based solutions, decentralised sanitation / separative urine systems, nutrient flow studies …

The call for abstracts is now open for PERM5 (22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online)
deadline for submission 27th February 2022
https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Call for input: Legacy Phosphorus in Soils

Over 560 participants joined the ESPP- BOKU webinar on the impacts of reducing “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils, 2nd February 2022, with a very active oral and online chat discussion. As proposed, ESPP will now engage a working group and workshop to write an operational definition of “Legacy P” (input is welcome). The webinar will be followed by SCOPE Newsletter special issue, summarising the webinar presentations and discussions, and also summarising a selection of scientific papers and other reports relevant to Legacy P.

Webinar presentation slides, video recording, Chat record will be made available here www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP
Please send papers for consideration for inclusion to
by 27th February 2022

 

EU public consultation on the Waste Framework Directive

An EU public ‘Roadmap’ consultation is open to 22nd February 2022 on revision of the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98, aiming to prevent waste generation, address food waste and waste oil, and improve separate collection. The Roadmap consultation stage enables impact on the objectives and aspects to be considered in the revision. The Commission’s proposed Roadmap suggests options including better implementation of waste prevention, re-use and recycling; clarifying EU guidance on separate collection and on EPR (extended producer responsibility) and possible regulatory measures on waste reduction and prevention, EPR (in particular for online sales), source separation, waste oil collection and regeneration. ESPP underlines that improving separate collection of household organic waste and prevention – reduction or re-use of food waste are of potential importance for nutrient stewardship.

EU public consultation on the Waste Framework Directive, open to 22nd February 2022, submission = 4000 characters text statement and/or document HERE.

 

ESPP to address nitrogen recycling

As indicated in our previous eNews, the 2021 General Assembly decided to widen ESPP’s action (currently all aspects of phosphorus sustainability) to cover recycling of nitrogen and of other elements. The General Assembly decided to widen to recovery/ recycling/ reuse of nitrogen and of other elements, but not to engage ESPP in questions such as crop nitrogen use efficiency, nitrogen losses from agriculture, nitrogen in the food chain or nitrogen and climate change.

In 2014, it was decided by the founding members of ESPP to establish a “phosphorus” platform and not a “nutrient” platform, in order to not duplicate existing initiatives on nitrogen. Thus, ESPP’s name is “Phosphorus” platform. We have seen however that ESPP’s action concerning phosphorus recycling (e.g. regulatory questions, science, recycling technologies, organic inputs, recycled fertilising products …) is often also relevant to recycling of nitrogen and/or other elements, and often engages the same network of contacts.

There is currently increasing interest in nitrogen recovery driven by pressures to “capture” N emissions (ammonia = National Emissions Ceilings Directive, N2O greenhouse gas) and (maybe temporarily) by natural gas price and supply issues.

The ESPP Board has discussed how to take forward the General Assembly decision to widen of ESPP’s activities to cover recycling of nitrogen and other elements, and proposes to make small changes to ESPP’s statutes to modify the association’s objective of “phosphorus sustainability in Europe” to add “and recycling of other nutrients”.

The Board has decided to launch an ESPP ‘Working Group on Recycling of Nitrogen and Other Elements’ to meet 2-3 times per year to discuss how to take forward ESPP action: defining priorities, partner organisations, resources. If you are interested to participate contact

Precise texts of proposed modifications to ESPP statutes in French (legally binding) and English (indicative translation) are online here https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/platform/about-espp and comments are welcome. Comments will be submitted to a General Assembly to be held by email in early Spring 2022 (quorum to modify association objectives: 2/3 of Members participating in vote, 4/5 of votes in favour - statutes art. 15).

 

Phosphorus events

 

espc4 enews 58 2ESPC4
20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

The detailed programme of the
4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)
is now published.

Confirmed speakers include Virginijus Sinkevičius European Commissioner for Environment; Sibylla Hardmeier, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU); Andrea Roskosch, German Federal Environment Agency (UBA); Franz Josef Radermacher, Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing (FAWn), Germany; Mahesh Pradhan, United Nations Environment; Wenfeng Liu, China Agricultural University …

ESPC4 (20-21 June 2022, Vienna and hybrid) will be the first major phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

The published programme includes pre-selected speakers for the six ESPC4 parallel sessions:
- Nutrient recovery technologies operational showcase
- Nutrient recovery technologies in development
- Phosphorus recovery from ashes
- Biochars and hydrothermal carbonisation
- Regional nutrient policies and actions
- New and bio-based fertilisers
ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

cru Phosphates 2022 27 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. Programme now online. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational. 10% discount for ESPP members: request the code from ESPP. CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR)

CMCs for by-products & certain recovered minerals, inc. ammonium salts

The European Commission has now finalised FPR criteria to add CMCs (Component Material Categories) for CMC11 (By-Products) and CMC15 (certain recovered minerals), including phosphogypsum and recovered ammonium salts. In the FPR, the CMCs provide a limitative list of materials which can be used as ingredients for EU fertilisers (CMC1 allows use of any ‘virgin’ material = non-waste derived. Secondary materials can only be used if specifically covered by one of the other CMCs).

CMC1 allows the use of (non-waste derived) by-products as precursors for chemical reactions to produce FPR ingredients, but does not allow the use in EU fertilisers of By-Products (not chemically reacted). The criteria for CMC11 now specify which By-Products can be used directly as ingredients, as such. The finalised criteria cover a short list of seven specific industry by-products (see below) plus more generally certain pure mineral salts (including phosphate and ammonium salts) subject to 95% purity and < 0.5% organic carbon. ESPP regrets that organic by-products are thus excluded (unless specifically covered in other CMCs), as are mineral by-products derived from plant materials (e.g. in the paper and pulp industries). This is because information on examples of such by-products was not provided by industry. In all cases, certain contaminants are specifically limited in by-products under CMC11: radioactivity (request made by ESPP), total chromium, thallium, vanadium. Quality phosphogypsum will thus be eligible. Phosphogypsum is today used widely in Finland as a soil amendment with proven effect in reducing phosphorus losses to surface waters (see ESPP eNews n°36).

CMC15 opens use in EU fertilisers to certain waste-recovered pure mineral salts. Purity requirements are as above (95% purity, < 0.5% C-org) plus limitations of certain contaminants and pathogens. As under CMC11, only certain mineral salts are covered, including phosphate and ammonium salts. ESPP requested that potassium and magnesium salts be also included, but this was not implemented because industry had not provided examples. The mineral salt must be recovered from “waste generated from” either (art. 2a) “a production process” or (2b) “a gas purification or emission control process designed to remove nutrients from off-gases” with certain input materials (non-waste, separately collected bio-waste, municipal refuse, sludge, manure, livestock housing and certain other wastes).

It is ESPP’s understanding that CMC15, as finalised, therefore covers (subject to the purity and contaminant criteria), inter alia:

  • struvite or phosphate salts recovered from phosphogypsum, where the phosphogypsum is a waste which has been generated from phosphate rock processing (gypsum stack), or recovered from other fertiliser industry waste streams. Phosphogypsum produced as part of the rock processing would be CMC11 (By-Product);
  • ammonium salts recovered from gas treatment, such as anaerobic digester biogas purification or from digestate gas stripping, or from municipal waste incineration off-gas, or from manure storage or livestock stable off-gas.

ESPP suggested that ammonia salts recovered from manure storage, livestock stable ventilation gases or off-gases from e.g. manure digestate should be subject to Animal By-Product End Point requirements, in order to guarantee sanitary safety. It was answered that gases are excluded from the Animal By-Product regulations.

ESPP suggests that a number of questions concerning CMC11 and CMC15 need to be clarified, with examples, in the European Commission’s FPR ‘FAQ’ (Frequently Asked Questions). In particular:

  • if a struvite or a precipitated phosphate is recovered from phosphogypsum during the phosphate rock processing (before the phosphogypsum becomes a “waste”), then is this precipitated phosphate CMC1, not CMC15 (so not subject to any purity or contaminant criteria) ?
  • what about ammonium salts recovered from gases which are not “waste” (CMC15 covers only recovery from waste), e.g. recovered from digester biogas purification (can this be CMC1 despite the digester taking waste as input) ?
  • if gases are not Animal By-Products, and so also not ammonia salts recovered by ammonia stripping from digestates or from manure storage off-gas, then how can sanitary safety be guaranteed ?
  • what about pure mineral products with ‘waste’ status (such as spent acids) which are used as precursors in chemical processes for fertiliser production (excluded from CMC1 because of waste status, not CMC15 because not used as such in the EU fertiliser product ?

Specific by-products listed in CMC11 (in addition to pure mineral salts): from methionine process, processing mineral ores, Solvay process, acetylene production, iron industry, metal surface treatment (micro-nutrients), humic/fulvic acids from drinking water treatment – see criteria for precise specifications. The finalised criteria for CMC11 and CMC15 are now under translation, and will then be published in the Official Journal, hopefully in time for the entry into implementation of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 in July 2022.
Finalised versions: CMC11 delegated act text and criteria - CMC15 delegated act text - CMC15 criteria

 

Nutrient recycling

 

CCm to implement P and N recovery with Yorkshire Water

Nutrient recycling news 63CCm Technologies’ process uses captured ammonia and CO2 from anaerobic digestion to combine with organics, stabilising N and P to produce a pelletised organo-mineral carbonate fertiliser, so reducing greenhouse gas emissions, see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°134. The technology has been demonstrated for three years in the UK (500 t/y output pilot). Full scale plants (10 – 12 000 t/y fertiliser production) are in operation since 2021 at Severn Trent Water Minworth UK wwtp (sewage sludge digestate) and in delivery with Walkers Crisps (Pepsico), Leicester, UK (food industry digestates). A pilot (4 m3/day) also recovering phosphorus from P-rich sludge dewatering streams is also under construction at Yorkshire Water Caldervale wwtp. The CCm plant at Walkers (Pepsico) will recycle ammonia and organics from potato peelings anaerobic digestion and CO2 from a brewery to organo-mineral fertiliser, so reducing Walkers potato supply chain carbon emissions by 70%. The CCm technology has been featured on BBC Radio’s Farming Today 2/7/2021. Field tests of the fertiliser product show compatibility of the pellets with existing farm fertiliser equipment: rotating discs up to 30m wide spreading radius), crop performance comparable to commercial mineral fertilisers and positive impacts on soil bioflora, water retention, soil carbon and reduced nutrient runoff.

BBC “Beer and crisps used to help tackle climate change”, 7/12/2020.

BBC Farming Today 2/7/2021 (4 minutes radio report, trial site, Bedfordshire, UK, with Cranfield University).
CCm Technologies: http://ccmtechnologies.co.uk/ and technology details in the ESPP-NNP-DPP Nutrient Recycling Technology Catalogue http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory
Photo: full scale plant operating at Severn Trent Water, Minworth wastewater treatment plant, UK

 

 

Ductor recycled nitrogen approved for use in US Organic Farming

ESPP member, Ductor, has obtained California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Organic Input Material (OIM) registration, so giving USDA Organic compliance for liquid nitrogen fertiliser recovered from anaerobic digestion of chicken manure. The liquid 5-0-0 nitrogen fertiliser provides rapidly plant available, soluble nitrogen in ammoniac form, according to crop demand. The fertiliser is recovered from the chicken litter digestate by ammonia stripping from digestate. Methane production by anaerobic digestion means that the recovered nitrogen fertiliser is climate neutral. A solid organic NPK fertiliser is also under development.

“Ductor’s first commercial fertilizer product now available and certified Organic”, 6 September 2021 and  https://www.ductor.com/fertilizers

 

 

Research

Biochar, organic carbon molecules and P-solubilisation

Lab study suggests that organic acids released by ionisation of wood biochar can solubilise P in hydroxyapatite, so potentially improving plant P uptake in soils. The paper by Sacko et al. shows that the ozonisation of pine wood pyrolysis biochar increased oxygen functional groups on the biochar surface and caused release of water-soluble organic acids (probably COOH groups). The filtrate from biochar ionisation significantly released soluble P from hydroxyapatite at its generated pH of around 6, but also when neutralised to pH7: releasing 2 – 9 x more P at pH7 than water. This lower effect at neutral pH is expected from literature (Glaser 2019 cited) but most European soils are slightly acidic at pH6 or lower. It should be noted that humic compounds are considered to also increase crop P uptake by interactions with plant hormones, root membranes and P-mobilising bacteria in the soil (see Jindo 2020).

In a second paper by Tumbure et al., condensate from pyrolysis of maize stover (stem+leaves) was tested for P solubilisation of ground Dorowa phosphate rock. The pyrolysis condensates only solubilised around 14% of the phosphorus in the rock, compared to 46% by oxalic acid, at similar pH of 3 – 3.8. The poor solubilisation by pyrolysis condensates was suggested to be related to low concentrations of chelating and complexing agents and significant calcium in the condensates.

“Sustainable Green Chemistry: Water-Soluble Ozonized Biochar Molecules To Unlock Phosphorus from Insoluble Phosphate Materials”, O. Sacko et al., ACS Agric. Sci. Technol. 2022 DOI.

“Phosphorus recovery from an igneous phosphate rock using organic acids and pyrolysis condensate“, A. Tumbure et al., Scientific African 15 (2022) e01098 DOI.

 

Phos4You final project report

The Phos4You Interreg project (ESPP member) has concluded that the tested P-recovery processes are technically feasible and ready for upscaling, and generate P fertilisers corresponding to farmers’ or industry requirements.

For the recovery of phosphorus from sewage sludge ashes (SSA), three different acid-leaching processes were assessed:

  • REMONDIS TetraPhos®: phosphoric acid leaching. For information (outside Phos4You project): a full scale 20 000 t/y TetraPhos plant has been constructed and is under commissioning in Hamburg, Germany, following process testing for over two years in a pilot scale plant with a capacity of 50 kg/h (see SCOPE Newsletters n°141 and 129). Within the Phos4You project, several tonnes of three different ashes were treated in the pilot plant.
  • PARFORCE-Technology: hydrochloric acid leaching. This process was tested in a pilot scale plant with batch acid leaching (150 – 250 kg ash per batch) and semi-continuous purification, using a total of around one tonne of SSA in several campaigns.
  • Phos4Life™: sulphuric acid leaching. Laboratory proof of concept tests were carried out with several kilograms of SSA to evaluate the leaching properties and impurities removal.

All three of these processes were tested with different qualities of SSA with relatively low P-content between 5 and 6 % (literature range of 6 – 13% P for municipal sewage sludge incineration ash). With all three processes a P- recovery rate over 80 % was achieved, as required by German P-recovery legislation. The technologies were additionally tested for, and managed to cope with SSA with high percentage of industrial sewage sludge (high impurities and P-content around 4%), but for this, process adjustments and/or additional technical steps were required. 

The three tested processes were successful in achieving the production of marketable phosphoric acid from SSA.

The technical differences between these three processes, in terms of leaching acid used and of process steps to remove impurities (precipitation steps, membranes, ion exchange and solvent extraction), led to the production of different by-products and residues. The quality of the by-products produced in the pilot scale tests (gypsum, Fe-/ Al-salt solutions, road salt) were compared with standard market products and roughly assessed to be recyclable in existing value chains.

Also, the EuPhoRe process, in which sewage sludge is incinerated in a specifically designed kiln with magnesium chloride added to remove (by vaporisation) part of the heavy metals and to improve plant availability of the phosphorus in the ash, was tested with construction of a demonstration scale pilot plant (up to 100 kg/h input dewatered sludge, c. 25% DM) at EGLV’s Dinslaken sewage works (see SCOPE Newsletter n°129). Results (p.92 of Phos4You Technical Report) show cadmium, mercury and thallium below detection limits in the treated ash; arsenic < 25% of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation limit [PFC 1(C)(I)]; lead < 13 - 50% of this limit and nickel between 65 - 90% of this limit. Copper, at the tested temperatures (which were below the intended operation temperature), exceeding the EU Fertilising Products Regulation limits. Despite the low operating temperatures, the zinc limit could be achieved by increasing the dosing of magnesium chloride from 3% to 6%. Chromium VI values in the raw material and in the products were always below the detection limit. The analyses of the EuPhoRe-SSA produced with the demonstrator in Dinslaken showed solubility of total P content of 70 % to 90 % with 2 % citric acid and > 60 % with neutral ammonium citrate solubility (NAC), compared to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation specification of > 75% with NAC [Annex II, Part II, PFC1, 4(b)]. Ryegrass pot trials with the resulting ash showed significantly better growth with the ash compared to no P fertiliser (control) but significantly lower growth than with triple super phosphate (c. 1/3 lower biomass dry matter). The EuPhoRe product is considered to provide long-term, slow-release phosphate.

Lab-scale tests showed feasibility of bio-acidification of sewage sludge from sewage works using iron or aluminium salts for P-removal, followed by P-recovery by precipitation of calcium phosphate using Veolia Struvia technology (see SCOPE Newsletter n°141). The bio-acidification was achieved by endogenous bacteria with dosing only of sugar-rich organic by-products. 55% - 70% of total phosphorus in the sewage sludge was released as soluble phosphorus by bio-acidification upstream of sewage sludge digestion, with slightly higher release from iron phosphate than from aluminium phosphate sludge. Release from iron phosphate sludge (with the same sugar-rich organics dosing) was however considerably lower (only around 20%) for bio-acidification of digested sludge. Bio-acidification upstream of the anaerobic digester significantly increased methane production. The Veolia Struvia reactor, in the tests, was able to recover over 95% of the dissolved phosphorus from bio-acidification as calcium phosphate (hydroxyapatite). The recovered hydroxyapatite is considered to have low economic value, but very low operating costs. Struvite production was not adopted because of high operating costs and insufficient ammonia concentrations.

Other technologies tested at laboratory scale were mineral acid-leaching of phosphorus from (wet) sewage sludge, microalgae bioreactor for treating sewage, Veolia Struvia (hydroxyapatite precipitation) for tertiary P-removal and alkali-activated crab carapace as a phosphorus adsorbent (with Veolia Filtraflo). Summary in SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

The final report also includes assessment of possible value chains and business models, with scenarios for Switzerland (see ESPP eNews n°61). The Netherlands and Germany (Emscher – Lippe region EGLV), a GIS tool, recommendations for EU decision makers

Phos4You Interreg project Final Report (184 pages) and Technical Report (326 pages), edited by Lippeverband water board, Germany, 09/2021 and 12/2021 www.nweurope.eu/phos4you See also summaries in SCOPE Newsletter n°141 (Phos4You final conference)

 

Science summary on plant phosphorus and use efficiency

The conclusions of the EU Horizon2020 CropBooster-P project give an overview of knowledge and perspectives on crop Phosphorus Use Efficiency. It is underlined that around one third of cultivated soils worldwide have insufficient available phosphorus for optimal plant growth. Knowledge of root architecture, soil biome and plant hormonal phosphorus signalling are summarised. It is noted that addition of mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) to plants (e.g. by inoculation, soil application or seed coating) has shown to be effective in improving plant P uptake in laboratory conditions, but that field experiments have shown little benefits, because the bacterial populations cannot be controlled. The practical, agronomic value of understanding plant P signalling and transport mechanisms is not clear, but may provide routes to early-stage detection of P deficiency. The authors note that work on crop selection should aim not only to increase P uptake, but also to improve overall P utilisation, so increase of harvestable material or of seed P content. Work on plant traits also needs to be combined with referenced soil P analysis (Olsen P is indicated). Development of progressive-release fertilisers and of fertilisers with improved phosphorus plant uptake is recommended. The project report also includes a summary on improving nitrogen uptake and use efficiency.

CropBooster-P, EU Horizon 2020, Deliverable 4.2, November 23rd 2021 “White Paper and Scientific Basis of the Strategic Research Agenda”, https://www.cropbooster-p.eu/

 

Phosphorus levels in Organic and conventional food products

The BfR MEAL study Germany analysed 356 food products and found similar phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and calcium (Ca) levels between Organic and non-Organic (conventional) products. Significant differences showed for olives: lower Ca, maybe due to calcium chloride additive used in non-Organic, higher K, maybe in sea salt used for Organic olives and higher P, attributed by the authors (surprisingly) to higher fertiliser use for Organic olives. Higher phosphorus was also found in certain categories of Organic cereal products, suggested to be because of inclusion of seeds and not only cereals in the Organic products (ESPP note: this would be expected because of phytate content of seeds, but the P in phytate is only partly assimilable by humans). P, K and Ca levels were also similar for foods purchased in different regions of Germany and at different times of the year. The authors conclude that dietary differences in mineral intake would therefore result principally from choice of different categories of food.

“Results of the BfR MEAL Study: The food type has a stronger impact on calcium, potassium and phosphorus levels than factors such as seasonality, regionality and type of production”, K. Schwerbel et al., Food Chemistry: X 13 (2022) 100221 DOI.

 

Elevated CO2 increases soil P mineralisation but decreases plant-available P

Tests with wheat showed that high atmospheric (eCO2) increased crop biomass growth, accelerated mineralisation of organic P with increased soil microbial activity, resulting in reduced plant available P, due to plant – microbe competition for P (Jin 2022). The tests were carried out in laboratory growth chambers, with 0.12 x 0.2m area rhizoboxes enabling physical separation of the root growth and rhizosphere compartments (but movement of water, nutrients), with CO2 at 800 vs. 400 ppm, organic phosphorus added (phytate, 70 mgP.kg soil), in two soils from Victoria, Australia (Chromosol = strong texture difference between surface and subsoil, Vertosol = high in clay) and carbon labelling. Elevated CO2 (eCO2) resulted in increased carbon in soil (+60%), transferred by the wheat plants. Mineralisation (conversion to inorganic forms of P) of the phytate (organic P) increased 9% in the Chromosol and 45% in the Vertosol respectively and microbial respiration rate increased significantly in the rhizosphere of both soils. Bacterial species richness increased. The increased mineralisation of organic P was considered to be related to an increased genetic pool of bacteria for glycolysis and for the pentose phosphate pathway, linked to synthesis of nucleotides and ATP. Abundance of the soil bacteria phyla Bacteriodetes and Gemmatimonadetes increased, associated with phytate mineralisation. eCO2 led to statistically significant reductions in plant available soil P (Olsen-P) and also reduced plant available N. This was considered to be the result of competition between soil microbes and plants for nutrients (indicated by increased microbial C:P ratio). The results of these tests confirm and provide additional insights to the 8-year Free Air CO2 Enrichment (SoilFACE) experiments reported in Jin 2020 which showed, under eCO2, increased presence of oligotrophs in the bacterial community and increased mineralisation of soil organic P in surface soils.

“Elevated atmospheric CO2 alters the microbial community composition and metabolic potential to mineralize organic phosphorus in the rhizosphere of wheat”, J. Jian et al., Microbiome (2022) 10:12, DOI.

“Long-term CO2 enrichment alters the diversity and function of the microbial community in soils with high organic carbon”, J. Jian et al., Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Volume 144, May 2020, 107780 DOI.

 

Climate variation likely to increase soil phosphorus losses (bis)

Drought – flood abrupt alternation (DFAA) conditions were simulated in field trials, Anhui plain, China, under summer maize, showing reduced plant P storage and increased soil P losses. Using this data in modelling suggested a six-times increase in P losses possible with future climate change. Fifteen field plots of 5.5 x 3.7 m, separated by baffles 1.2m deep, were used for the tests, near Bengbu, 500 km NW of Shanghai. The DFAA test plots were sheltered and subject to artificial rainfall only. DFAA was considered to be dry soil conditions followed within 5 days by rainfall, with testing of three degrees of dryness and rainfall. The plots with DFAA showed nearly 50% lower P-storage in the crop than natural (control) conditions and soil phosphorus losses from 2% to 9%. Modelling suggested that climate change (IPCC RCP 4.5 scenario) could lead to a nearly six-fold increase in soil P loss. This study confirms similar conclusions from laboratory tests carried out in the UK (S. Khan et al. 2021, see ESPP eNews n°62).

“Soil phosphorus loss increases under drought-flood abrupt alternation in summer maize planting area”, W. Bi et al., Agricultural Water Management 262 (2022) 107426 DOI.

 

Misleading research

 

Erroneous research paper on phosphates in food

An author from Plymouth University, UK, who published an erroneous paper on food phosphates in 2013 has offended again, with a new paper whose conclusions are based on errors, biological misunderstanding and failure to verify data sources. This 2022 paper contains some limited but interesting primary data, but then draws misleading and false conclusions.

The primary data contained in the 2022 paper are the results of a Google Survey, with a smallish sample of 184 useable responses (unbalanced: 142 female, 34 male). The online questionnaire asked people what they would eat on a typical day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks, and if known to specify “brands and amounts”. Respondents were asked to classify themselves as meat eaters (83), flexitarians (58), vegetarians (31) and vegans (12). Responses were then combined with the UK Government 2019 food database to estimate daily dietary phosphorus intake. These calculations suggest that meat eaters and flexitarians (meat-flex) have a diet P intake of c. 1.3 gP/day, whereas vegetarians and vegans (veg-veg) have a lower intake (0.8 – 1.0 gP/day). Differences between meat eaters and flexitarians were not statistically significant, nor between vegetarians and vegans, but the difference comparing the groups meat-flex and veg-veg was significant. As indicated in the paper, this result is contrary to the hypotheses of Forber et al. 2020 (see ESPP eNews n°51 and discussion in Metson et al. ESPP eNews n°4). Forber’s estimates assumed the same protein intake for vegetarians as meat-eaters, whereas in this 2022 paper veg-veg respondents suggested a lower protein intake than meat-flex. In ESPP’s opinion, this interesting result merits further investigation with a larger sample..

However, the paper then draws erroneous conclusions based on various assumptions, unverified secondary data and a significant scientific error concerning phosphorus metabolism.

The paper suggests total average diet P intake of 1.1 – 1.7 gP/day, by multiplying the calculated intakes (based on respondents’ answers) by +32% to compensate for the under-declaration of food consumption which is known to generally occur in food questionnaires. This is reasonable, but it is also possible that the degree of under-declaration may be different for veg-veg than meat-flex respondents, as the former may have a more attentive attitude to diet. A higher proportion of the veg-veg respondents are female which may also modify attitudes*. These potential sources of result bias are not considered.

It is stated concerning diet P intake that “Food containing additives also comprises 70% more P than those without”. The reference given is Winger 2012. But in fact, Winger (secondary source) quotes this number from the abstract of Benini O. et al. J Renal Nutrition 21(4), 2011 (primary source). The original data in Benini actually shows P (total) 57% higher in 60 samples of processed meats (30 with and 30 without P food additives). This would imply a 57% higher diet P intake for persons eating only processed meat (for breakfast lunch and tea) and no other foodstuffs, so potentially much less of a difference in a diet including some processed meat along with unprocessed meat, cereals, vegetables, beverages, etc.

It is indicated that the daily minimum requirement of phosphorus in diet is 0.55 gP/day. P excreted from the body (to sewage) is then calculated as the dietary intake (based on the respondents’ calculation) minus 0.55 gP – that is, the paper assumes that 0.55 gP/day is accumulated in the body (ignoring losses in sweat, hair growth, skin cell shedding … which are negligible). This is of course balderdash. If it was true, then at my age I would have accumulated 12 kg of P in my body, that is 70 kg of calcium phosphate (the material of bones), that is more than 100% of my weight (more than two-and-a-half times my body dry weight). This does not seem to have led the authors to question their conclusions. In reality, the daily excretion of P well known to be approximately the same as the daily intake, with a small net accumulation during childhood. This error leads to considerably overestimate the differences between P excretion to sewage from meat-flex compared to veg-veg (calculated from the results, adjusted), and so leads to misleading conclusions as to a hypothetical reduction in sewage phosphorus levels in case of dietary change.

The paper calculates the reduction in sewage P levels claimed to result from a change of diet by comparing the (erroneous) estimated change in body P excretion (wrongly calculated as indicated above, and based on responses of < 50 veg-veg respondents) to an estimate for total P in UK raw sewage (wwtp influent). This estimate is referenced p.6 to a study by the same author (ref. 44, Comber 2021), which in fact seems to include only wwtp effluent data. In fact, the primary data is probably from UKWIR CIP2 2015-2020 monitoring (cited as ref. 40, p. 5) which show mean P in influent sewage of 8.36 mg/lP-TOTAL (44 UK wwtps). This estimate of the proportion of P in sewage coming from diet involves other errors, for example: part of the P coming from the population does not reach sewage works (households on septic tanks, pipe leakage …). Overall, the authors conclude that “current diets contribute 45% of the P load to UK wwtps”. This number is unrealistically low, coherent with the incorrect assumption that a half to a third of diet P is retained in the body and does not reach sewage. In 2017, the UK Environment Agency indicated 60% of P in UK sewage from diet, and the % will have increased as phosphates have been banned in household dishwasher detergents since 2017. The authors do not ask themselves the question that if only 45% of P in sewage were to come from human diet, where does the rest come from?

The author, S. Comber, Plymouth University signed in 2013 an erroneous paper in the same peer reviewed journal (Environmental Technology, Taylor & Francis), see SCOPE Newsletter n°103. This 2013 paper estimated the quantities of P from food phosphate additives in the UK diet, with a conclusion which would have meant that half of total EU food phosphate production was consumed in the UK. This result did not lead the author to question the conclusions. The UK Environment Agency on the other hand considered the conclusions as “unrealistic”. This error resulted from the same methodological fault as one of the errors of the new 2022 paper: the use of secondary data without going back to the primary source. In the 2013 paper, data from a (dubiously reliable and incorrectly cited) thesis were used, these data having been incorrectly taken from a 1993 UK Government publication. This non-verified use of secondary data led to confuse grammes of phosphorus with grammes of “food phosphate”, an error of factor at > 4x.

The paper abstract also suggests that more P in sewage “causes eutrophication”. This is misleading, in that increasing P influent to sewage works will often not increase P discharge, because P-removal is operated to discharge consent level (there will be some increase in P reaching the environment in storm overflows, households not connected to mains sewerage).

* ESPP note: please do not take this as discriminatory, but only as a possible hypothesis.
“The impact of diet on wastewater treatment works phosphorus loading”, C. Down, S. Comber, Environmental Technology 2022 https://doi.org/10.1080/09593330.2022.2027029

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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ESPP 2021 summary

Phosphorus events
Legacy Soil Phosphorus webinar: Wednesday 2nd February, 14h - 17h CET
Recovered phosphates for animal feed
ESPC4 programme published: 20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online
PERM5 - the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting
Phosphates 2022

Supply challenges

EU regulatory
BAT BREF update process launched for Inorganic Chemicals
Input to EU Fertilising Products Regulation: by-products, recovered minerals

ESPP new member
REFLOW

Nutrient recycling
Micronutrients recovered from alkaline batteries as Organic Certified fertiliser
EasyMining moves forward nutrient recovery

Webinars
IFA – FAO: Nutrient recovery and sustainable plant nutrition
Implementation of the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy

Research
Possible P4 synthesis by electrolysis
Climate variability likely to increase soil phosphorus losses
Scientific testing of options for P-leaching from ashes
Overview of sewage sludge regulations in Europe

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

ESPP 2021 summary

ESPP wishes our readers all the best for 2022, whatever it may bring. We summarise below our main actions in 2021 and perspectives for 2022. More information is in past issues of eNews and our SCOPE Newsletter on our website.

In 2021, ESPP continued active input to the EU Fertilising Products Regulation FPR 2019/1009, which will enter into implementation in July 2022. After some delays, the criteria were published for recycled struvite and precipitated phosphates (2021/2086), use of ashes in fertiliser production (2021/2087), and biochars / pyrolysis materials (2021/2088). Proposals are now underway to also cover nitrogen salts recovered by ammonia stripping from digestates, phosphogypsum and certain by-products (see below). Work is engaged to cover post-processing of digestates and composts. The FAQ continues to be extended (Frequently Asked Questions document, providing implementation and interpretation guidance).

ESPP is also working on authorisation of use of recovered nutrients in Organic Farming (see FIBL in ESPP eNews n°60).

2021 also saw significant developments towards implementation of nutrient recovery, with a number of companies progressing pilot and full-scale installations. These are summarised in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies (update underway, input welcome).

2021 saw publication by JRC of the MSA (System Analysis) for P4 (white phosphorus and derivates), based on the workshop on P4 co-organised by the European Commission and ESPP in 2020 (SCOPE Newsletter n°136). Both phosphate rock (i.e. phosphorus in fertilisers and food) and the specific material P4 (essential for a range of chemicals) are EU Critical Raw Materials.

In the context of the EU Algae Initiative, ESPP organised a webinar to explore regulatory questions concerning algae grown using waste inputs (e.g. grown in wastewater, or using off-gas CO2 …), and with EABA and Eureau, has formally put resulting questions to the European Commission.

ESPP also organised a working webinar on regulatory obstacles to recycling manure to fertilisers, and will pursue this further with the European Commission and EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) in 2022.

ESPP organised the 4th PERM5 Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, with over 370 participants online (see SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

In 2022, the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference: ESPC4 Vienna 20-21 June 2022 will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127). Programme with many confirmed speakers to date is online here and registration is open. and will be followed by the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, PERM5 Vienna, 22 June 2022. Both events will be ‘hybrid’, with networking tools enabling dialogue between online participants and those meeting in Vienna throughout the duration of the conferences. We look forward to seeing you there! https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

ESPP will continue our action on sustainable nutrient use on farm, with a webinar on relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P”, crop yield and P losses, on webinar 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET, www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

2022 will also see implementation of the important decisions taken by ESPP’s General Assembly 2021 (webinar and email vote): recruitment of a second staff in Brussels and widening of ESPP’s action (currently all aspects of phosphorus sustainability) to cover recovery and recycling of nitrogen and other elements.

 

Phosphorus events

 

Legacy Soil Phosphorus webinar: Wednesday 2nd February, 14h - 17h CET

This ESPP webinar, co-organised with BOKU, will look at relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P” in soil, crop yield and P losses. Full programme is online here. The webinar will address: what do we mean by “Legacy P”, impacts of drawing down Legacy P on crop yields and on soil phosphorus (long-term field trials) and Legacy P or draw-down impact losses to surface waters. Confirmed speakers are from The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Russia, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Canada, Brazil and New Zealand. Panellists are leading agronomists and environmental experts from research centres and from the fertilisers industry.

This ESPP webinar follows on from the SPA (US) webinar “A Legacy of Phosphorus”, 30th September 2021, and from the Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’ summarised in ESPP eNews n°56.

Programme and registration (free): www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

 

Recovered phosphates for animal feed

Webinar 3rd February 13h - 14h30 CET. Results of trials of recovered phosphates as animal feed, quality and sustainability, regulatory barriers. With EasyMining, Gelsenwasser, SLU, Lanmännen, ESPP.

LINK: https://www.easymining.se/projects/feed-phosphate/webinar3febr/

 

 

espc4 enews 58 2ESPC4 programme published:
20-22 June 2022, Vienna Austria & online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4


The detailed programme of the
4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4)
is now published.

Confirmed speakers include Virginijus Sinkevičius European Commissioner for Environment; Sibylla Hardmeier, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU); Andrea Roskosch, German Federal Environment Agency (UBA); Franz Josef Radermacher, Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing (FAWn), Germany; Mahesh Pradhan, United Nations Environment; Wenfeng Liu, China Agricultural University …

ESPC4 (20-21 June 2022, Vienna and hybrid) will be the first major phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

The published programme includes pre-selected speakers for the six ESPC4 parallel sessions:
- Nutrient recovery technologies operational showcase
- Nutrient recovery technologies in development
- Phosphorus recovery from ashes
- Biochars and hydrothermal carbonisation
- Regional nutrient policies and actions
- New and bio-based fertilisers
ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

PERM5 - the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting:

22 June 2022, Vienna, Austria

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022, making the link between R&D, industry and policy (summary of PERM4, June 2021, 370 participants, in SCOPE Newsletter n°141).

Sessions proposed include: nutrient recovery in the dairy industry, iron and phosphorus interactions, new fertilisers and biostimulants to improve crop nutrient uptake, Farm-to-Fork Zero Pollution: reducing P losses from agriculture, nature based solutions, decentralised sanitation / separative urine systems, nutrient flow studies …

A call for abstracts for PERM is open, deadline for submission 27th February.

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both in Vienna and online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5 https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

cru Phosphates 2022 27 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. Programme now online. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational. 10% discount for ESPP members: request the code from ESPP.

CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

 

Supply challenges

fao food price indexNitrogen fertilisers and P4 (white phosphorus) currently face interlinked global supply challenges, with links to global food price increases.

The FAO’s Food Price Index hit a ten-year high in 2021 and was 23% higher in December 2021 than one year earlier (after falling 1% between November and December 2021.

BBC coverage suggested that causes include climate change, leading to bad harvests, shortages of migrant workers, shipping problems due to Covid and deregulation of futures markets. Rabobank expects food prices to remain high in 2022, because of increasing prices of fertilisers and energy, shipping and labour shortages, continuing adverse weather (climate change, La Niña) and a strong US dollar.

Nitrogen fertiliser prices are closely linked to natural gas prices, and natural gas prices have increased considerably recently, as a result of various factors including geopolitics, climate, supply and demand policies (see e.g. this US analysis). The N fertiliser price is being exacerbated by export bans or limitations from China and Russia.

A study by Texas A&M University shows, for July 2021, N fertilisers at their highest price ever, and both P and K at their highest price since the 2008 price spike (but P still nearly 40% lower than this peak).

Despite high prices, fertiliser demand is expected to continue to increase in 2022 (according to CRU, organisers of the “Phosphates” industry conferences), with an expected rise of +2.9% from 2021 to 2022, following from the +1.2% rise 2020 to 2021.

Trade of phosphorus fertilisers is being impacted by the US decision to impose tariffs of 9% to 47% on some P imports, and then China’s decision to freeze phosphate exports from September 2021 to (at least) June 2022.

The specific market for P4 (white phosphorus) and its derivates is also being impacted by the energy squeeze and by political factors. Although P4 represents only 2-3% of world phosphate rock consumption, it is irreplaceable for the production of many specialist phosphorus chemicals needed by a very wide range of high-value societal end-uses, including electronics, batteries, fire safety, industrial water treatment, technical plastics, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, metal treatment, … (see ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°136, produced jointly with the European Commission JRC). P4 is therefore itself specifically identified as an EU Critical Raw Material (in addition to “Phosphate Rock”), see COM(2020)474. P4 is traded as such, but also importantly as “derivates” (that is intermediate chemicals such as PMIDA, POCl3, PCl5, see SCOPE referred above).

The EU has no production of P4 and so is totally dependent on imports of either P4 or of P4-derivates for essential user industries. Europe imports P4/derivates essentially from China, Kazakhstan and Vietnam (not in order of importance). In 2021, China considerably reduced its exports of P4/derivates, mainly because of nearly total stoppage of China’s P4 production capacity in order to energy consumption in particular in Yunnan province (a key phosphate region). Production has now partly resumed. Kazakhstan’s P4 / derivates production or export have also been impacted by current political unrest in the country and specifically in the Zyambyl Oblast region where P4 production is located (see here). These specific pressures on P4/derivates supply are additional to considerable price and supply pressures similar to those on fertilisers indicated above: rising electricity prices and demand, and shipping costs.

ESPP suggests that this context should provide increased impetus and urgency to develop phosphorus and nitrogen recovery and recycling in Europe. Nitrogen recovery from digestates offers synergy with development of bio-methane production, which can reduce EU dependency on imported natural gas. Industrial development and implementation of P4 production from secondary materials (sewage sludge incineration ash, meat and bone meal ash) could largely resolve Europe’s current import dependency for P4/derivatives.

No market-ready P4 production technology from waste is available at the moment. However, several promising developments are in a piloting stage. ESPP member Italmatch are involved in the EU-funded FlashPhos project to test P4 recovery from wastes at a pilot scale (15 million € budget). Other technologies are also proposed and are being tested on small scale.

EU regulatory

 

BAT BREF update process launched for Inorganic Chemicals

The European Commission (JRC) has started the update process for the BAT (Best Available Techniques) reference document for “Large Volume Inorganic Chemicals” (LVIC), which will cover all chemicals currently covered by the two BATs: LVIC Ammonia, Acids and Fertilisers (LVIC-AAF) and LVIC Solids and Others (LVIC-S). The first phase of consultation aims to define the scope of the BAT update, in particular to identify the most polluting sectors, key environmental issues (e.g. in terms of emissions to air and water, use of raw material, water and energy, generation of waste, circular economy, decarbonisation aspects) and new/emerging techniques or improvements in techniques which should be considered, compared to the two existing BAT BREF documents. The aim is to streamline the BAT BREF document by focussing on the BAT conclusions (and associated techniques). The BAT conclusions are legally constraining, and are mandatory applicable to all plants and production sites in the relevant chemical and fertiliser industries above the specified application thresholds. ESPP has not been a candidate for the Technical Working Group for this BAT BREF process (insufficient resources, scope much wider than ESPP’s competence) but will follow the process as a member of the IED Forum (Industrial Emissions Directive).

Existing BAT BREFs for LVIC Ammonia, Acids and Fertilisers (LVIC-AAF) and LVIC Solids and Others (LVIC-S).

European Commission (JRC) contact for further information on the LVIC BAT update process:

 

 

Input to EU Fertilising Products Regulation: by-products, recovered minerals

ESPP submitted input to the EU public consultations on criteria for use under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) of by-products and of recovered minerals.

These criteria will authorise the use in FPR EU-label fertilisers of nitrogen salts from offgas cleaning and ammonia stripping, under specified conditions. ESPP strongly welcomes this but considers that where nitrogen salts are recovered from manure storage, manure processing (e.g. digestate) or animal stables, pathogen data is needed to prove sanitary safety and an Animal By-Product End Point should be defined.

ESPP also welcomes that the inclusion of phosphogypsum and of e.g. struvite recovered from treatment of discharge from phosphogypsum waste stacks.

We regret however that CMC11 and CMC15 as proposed are limited to high-purity inorganic salts and do not cover organic by-products

ESPP also made detailed input concerning wording, such as whether the wording “substance and mixture” includes plant materials, whether processes using wastes as inputs are included and the meaning of the word “recovered”.

ESPP’s input to the public consultation, as well as various preparatory documents (including the JRC reports) are available at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory.

 

 

 

ESPP new member

 

REFLOW

reflow logo newsREFLOW is an interdisciplinary cross-sectoral European Training Network addressing the recovery of phosphorous from dairy processing waste water and its recycling into fertiliser products. REFLOW brings together scientists, key stakeholders and early-stage researchers in dairy processing, phosphorous recycling and fertiliser production. The network will address both technical and socio-economic challenges associated with the P-recovery and recycling in the dairy sector, so enabling sustainable expansion of the dairy industry in Europe.

In coherence with the Circular Economy Package, REFLOW research aims to (i) mitigate the environmental impact of dairy processing waste on soil and water, (ii) provide safe environmentally sustainable, cost-effective closed loop solutions for crop nutrient management and (iii) meet the demand for skilled professionals to support the technical, regulatory and commercial development of the market for recycled phosphorous fertiliser products.

REFLOW will achieve these goals by creating an innovative and entrepreneurial training environment. Thirteen young researchers will be recruited in a network of 24 organisations who bring complementary expertise and experience of delivering technical solutions, socio-economic modelling, environmental analysis, policy frameworks, training and commercial entrepreneurship. The young researchers will develop interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral skills for careers as independent industrial or academic researchers, entrepreneurs, regulators or agri-environmental specialists. REFLOW’s network-wide training activities include industrial secondments and commercially driven research projects.

Reflow European Training Network https://etn-reflow.eu/

 

 

Nutrient recycling

 

Micronutrients recovered from alkaline batteries as Organic Certified fertiliser

TraceGrow, Finland, are recovering manganese, zinc and copper from alkaline batteries and reclaimed copper to produce a high-purity foliar or soil micronutrient fertiliser, approved for Organic Farming in the EU. 50% of the world’s soils are deficient in zinc and 10% in manganese. These micronutrients are recovered from end-of-life consumer alkaline batteries by crushing, acid leaching then purification to generate soluble sulphates, plus copper recovered from end-of-life electronics and electrical parts. 15 batteries produce one litre of micronutrient fertiliser (4.1% Zn, 4.4% Mn, 1.9% Cu, 6.1% S, plus c. 1% K, 1% Na). TraceGrow has 35 million l/y production capacity, under expansion to 5 Ml/y. The fertiliser shows field trial results from twelve countries on barley, wheat, maize, potato, grass, citrus fruit. Manganese can be particularly effective in improving winter crop resistance to cold, and copper is important for grain yields in oats and barley. The product illustrates the need to continue to extend the CMC annexes of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009, in that it is not covered by current CMCs nor by the proposed new CMC15 “Recovered High Purity Materials” (published for public consultation to 14th January 2022): this proposal includes high purity sulphates, but only from a “production process” (EU Commission JRC’s 3rd preparatory report specifies line 2823 excludes “Materials obtained from the recycling facilities for waste materials”).

TraceGow “ZM-Grow”: https://www.tracegrow.com/zm-grow

 

EasyMining moves forward nutrient recovery

ESPP member, EasyMining (part of the Ragn-Sells Group) has announced a first full-scale Ash2Phos plant to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) and has started testing of a pilot installation to recover nitrogen from wastewaters.

The Ash2Phos plant is a joint venture, signed with Gelsenwasser AG, one of Germany’s largest utility companies operating mainly in the Ruhr, Muensterland, lower Rhein and Eastern Westphalia regions.  Construction of a 30 000 t-ash/year plant will start in 2022 in Chemieparks Schkopau, near Leipzig. The Ash2Phos process leaches phosphorus out of ash using hydrochloric acid, then separates iron, aluminium and heavy metals by a series of dissolution and precipitation steps, resulting in a clean calcium phosphate product of animal food quality. A second 30 000 t-ash/y plant is under permitting at Helsingborg, Sweden, with Kemira. For further details see the ESPP-NNP-DPP Nutrient Recycling Technology Catalogue.

A webinar on 3rd February, 13h00 - 14h30 CET will discuss results of digestibility tests for calcium phosphates recovered from sewage sludge incineration ash, quality constraints and regulatory obstacles.

easy mining newsEasyMining have also inaugurated the first pilot for a nitrogen recovery process, at Högbytorp, near Stockholm, in the EU LIFE funded project “Re-Fertilize”. Ammonia in wastewater is adsorbed to a specific mineral, then released and recovered, to produce clean ammonium sulphate. This can replace ammonia synthesised using natural gas, for fertiliser production. The adsorption chemical is regenerated and reused. The aim is also to replace current nitrogen removal processes in wastewater treatment (nitrification of ammonia to nitrate, then denitrification), which consumer electricity for aeration (nitrification) and carbon sources (e.g. methanol) for denitrification, and which release greenhouse nitrogen gases to the atmosphere. The pilot, designed and constructed by EasyMining with COWI and ENERCO, can treat c. 100 m3 of inflow per day, under continuous operation. It is now treating landfill leachate at Ragn-Sells Högbytorp site, Sweden, and will then be moved to BIOFOS´s Lynetten municipal wastewater treatment works in Denmark. The resulting ammonium sulphate fertiliser will be trialled by the Lantmännen, one of Northern Europe’s largest agricultural cooperatives.

“Gelsenwasser and EasyMining announce joint venture in Germany”, EasyMining 14th December 2021

“Unique pilot plant for nitrogen removal and recovery opens”, EasyMining, 9th December 2021

EU LIFE Re-Fertilize project

Webinar on recovered feed phosphates, 3rd February 13h00 – 14h30 CET LINK.

 

 

Webinars

IFA – FAO: Nutrient recovery and sustainable plant nutrition

The IFA - FAO webinar of 15th December 2021, 300 participants online, saw nutrient circularity as important for sustainability and showed a range of nutrient recycling technologies. IFA and FAO have also signed an agreement to promote sustainable fertiliser use.

Jiangyuan Xia, FAO Director of Plant Production and Protection, indicated that FAO believes that innovation can enable more sustainable plant nutrition management. This is pressing with the current energy crisis driving up fertiliser prices. FAO supports this with the International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers (2019, see ESPP eNews n°45).

Achim Dobermann, IFA Chief Scientist (International Fertilizer Association), indicated that only around 20% of nitrogen input into agriculture reaches consumed food and underlined the need to move towards full-chain nutrient efficiency for nitrogen, phosphorus and micronutrients.

Hannah Van Zanten, Wageningen University Research, compared land surface required to produce food for different food systems. Under today’s food system, animal production has a significantly higher environmental impact and land use than vegetable crop production. However, a circular food system producing healthy food can be even more efficient if food wastes are used to feed animals. In such a system, around 1/3 of human protein needs could be produced by livestock, and such a circular system with livestock could have a lower land requirement than for a vegan diet. Recycling of manure and animal by-products are essential. For further information see website and Van Selm et al. Nature Food 2022 DOI.

Hannah Lohman, University of Illinois & Community Integrated Development Initiatives, Uganda, discussed the potential for separative urine collection with nutrient recycling to fertiliser in Kampala, Uganda, either by simple storage of the urine to ensure sanitisation, or nutrient recovery by struvite precipitation and ion-exchange nitrogen recovery. Both routes could potentially be economically viable, depending on nutrient market prices. A challenge could be pharmaceuticals in the urine.

Céline Vaneeckhaute, Laval University Canada, presented the advances and limitations, as well as experimental work on various nutrient recovery technologies including struvite precipitation, HAIX ion exchange (see SCOPE Newsletter n°141), nitrogen recovery by stripping and citric acid absorption, and development of technology integration and optimisation models.

Dan Froehlich, Anuvia Plant Nutrients, presented the company’s SymTRX granulated organo-mineral fertiliser, based on organic secondary materials processed to provide a matrix with +ve and -ve sites onto which mineral nutrients can be fixed. After 5 years development and over 450 field trials, production capacity is today 1.1 million tonnes / year at Plant City, Florida. Organic wastes which can be input include crop wastes, animal wastes, food processing wastes and waste-water organics. Less than 5% of the nutrients of the final product come from the organic wastes, most are added as minerals, depending on the input materials.

Christian Kabbe, EasyMining, outlined the company’s processes today operational to recover purified nutrients from ashes: phosphorus from sewage sludge incineration ash, potassium from municipal solid refuse incineration ash. EasyMining are also now developing a process to recover nitrogen minerals from wastewater or manure.

Thomas Mannheim, Ductor, outlined the company’s integrated approach to nutrient recycling and renewable energy production from manure, aiming to avoid the considerable nitrogen losses (and consequent atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gas) which generally occur in manure storage and field application (can be up to 70%). In the Ductor process, nitrogen rich manures can be used as feedstock for biogas production (e.g. 100% chicken litter), because most of the nitrogen is removed upstream of the anaerobic digestion (biogas) process. The removed nitrogen is recovered as liquid nitrogen fertiliser. The solid fraction of the separated digestate is dried and pelletised as organic NPK fertilizers, and the liquid phase is recirculated to dilute the input material. This results in reduced GHG emissions and enhanced nutrient use by converting untreated manure to bioenergy and to balanced nutrient products which can be stored and transported and are adapted to farmers’ needs.

Achim Dobermann concluded that many technologies are increasingly available for nutrient recycling, and their implementation will improve sustainability of plant nutrition. The fertiliser industry is innovating with new types of products alongside mineral fertilisers and the use of secondary nutrient sources in fertiliser production. This will necessitate decentralisation to enable local recycling, adapted to local structures and agri-food systems, in particular in developing countries.

IFA – FAO webinar, 15th December 2021, “Advancing nutrient recycling and recovery in agriculture” (Sustainable Plant Nutrition series): full recording and IFA webinars page.

Upcoming IFA events HERE:
- 29-31 March 2022, Global Sustainability Conference, online
- 30 May - 1st June 2022, Annual Conference, Vienna, Austria
- 28-30 June 2022, Smart & Green, online

 

Implementation of the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region together with the Ministry of the Environment of Finland co-organized a webinar on the implementation of the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy on Monday 22 November 2021.

The purpose of the webinar was to present some topical issues and points of view in nutrient recycling, take stock of the present situation in nutrient recycling and also to look ahead and discuss opportunities and challenges in implementing the Nutrient Recycling Strategy in the Baltic Sea Region.

The webinar gathered c. 120 participants representing national authorities, businesses, research organisations and NGOs from different countries across the Baltic Sea.

The morning session consisted of five presentations from experts across public and private sectors. In her opening words, Tarja Haaranen, Ministry of the Environment, Finland, reminded that although the main goal of the strategy is to protect waters and the Baltic Sea, the actions will also have other beneficial impacts, among them impact on climate change mitigation.

In her introduction to the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy, Lotta Ruokanen, HELCOM, focused on the policy background, vision and objectives of the strategy.

Isidro Campos Rodriguez, European Commission DG Agriculture and Rural Development, gave an overview of nutrient recycling in the European Green Deal’s Farm to Fork programme, the Common Agricultural Policy, and beyond, and presented some links between these and the nutrient recycling strategy.

Ana-Lucia Crişan, European Commission DG GROW, presented the EU fertilising products regulation and discussed the harmonisation rules for fertilising products and gave an overview the quality assurance system works for fertiliser manufacturers.

Anders Finnson, Swedish Water, focused on the experiences in nutrient recycling in the wastewater sector in Sweden. He presented the ambition to transform the current wastewater treatment system into resource recovery plants.

Christian Kabbe, EasyMining (Ragn-Sells Group), focused on the business opportunities and obstacles of nutrient recovery and recycling. Some of the clear drivers, or opportunities that he mentioned were the existing quality requirements to minimize pollution and the need to reduce import dependencies. Some of the obstacles he mentioned were the discrimination of materials by origin and not by quality and the fragmentation of regulation.

In the afternoon session, six experts took part in a panel discussion on the present situation in nutrient recycling and took a look ahead and discussed opportunities and challenges in implementing the HELCOM Nutrient Recycling Strategy focusing on creating business opportunities and improving policy coherence.

The panel included representatives of national authorities, businesses and NGOs from different countries of the Baltic Sea Region: Andrea Roskosch (German Federal Environment Agency), Marja-Liisa Tapio-Biström (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland), Zigmas Medingis (Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania), Eetu Virtanen (Soilfood), Marc Buttmann (TerraNova Energy GmbH), and Gunnar Norén (Coalition Clean Baltic).

Article by Anna Hernberg, Ministry of the Environment, Finland – with thanks!

Webinar website –summary and slides: HERE

 

 

Research

 

Possible P4 synthesis by electrolysis

Lab-scale tests suggest feasibility of P4 production by electrolysis of molten metaphosphates (from phosphoric acid), potentially with energy and carbon consumption magnitudes lower than the current “thermal” route (electrothermal reducing furnaces). A 60 cm diameter, 2.8m height laboratory electrolysis reactor, operating at c. 800°C, and 2.4V current, was tested with steady-state electrolysis runs of a few minutes. Challenges are design and construction of an electrolysis cell reactor for operation at this temperature, sealings and recovery of the P4 produced. The principle is electrolysis of molten sodium metaphosphate [NaPO3]n – a commodity inorganic phosphate produced from “wet acid” route phosphoric acid. Sodium metaphosphates is an intrinsic oxide acceptor (because of phosphoryl anhydride linkages) so absorbing electrons to break down to NA3PO4 and O2. The NA3PO4 can then be cycled back to sodium metaphosphate by reaction with phosphoric acid. In the test reactor, the graphite anode was consumed, producing CO2, but unlike in a reducing P4 furnace, this CO2 is isolated from and cannot react with P4, so avoiding resulting energy loss. Additionally, the electrolysis reactor does not require sand (silicon dioxide) as an oxide acceptor, so does not lose heat energy in production of metasilicate slag (c. 30% of energy consumption in a P4 reducing furnace). The melting point of sodium metaphosphates (628°C) is considerably lower than the operating temperature of P4 reducing furnaces (c. 1 500 °C). To avoid CO2 reacting with P4, thermal P4 furnaces currently only partially reduce coke to carbon monoxide, which is burned off, so using only two of the four potential reducing electron equivalents of the coke carbon. The authors conclude that anhydride promoted electroreduction of molten metaphosphates could in the future provide an electron, energy and climate efficient alternative to electrothermal reducing furnaces for P4 production.

“Efficient Electrosynthesis of White Phosphorus from Molten Condensed Phosphate Salts”, J. Melville et al., ChemRxiv. Cambridge 2021, LINK.

 

 

 

 

Climate variability likely to increase soil phosphorus losses

Laboratory soil tests showed that simulated flooding caused P release in all soil samples, accentuated if the soil was previously dried, suggesting that climatic variations between drought and flooding could increase P losses. 168 soil samples of 150g (dry weight equivalent) were collected over 7 days from two different sites in North Wyke, Devon, UK (stagni-vertic cambisol, dystric cambisol), both under grazed grassland. 31 day laboratory tests were carried out in 500 ml bottles. Flooding was simulated by adding water to maintain 10 cm water depth in the mesocosm. Drying was for 10 days at 40°C. Flooding of soils significantly reduced redox potential, more so and more rapidly in previously dried soils. Similarly, flooding increased soil pH, more so and more rapidly in previously dried soils. Flooding increased dissolved phosphorus (DRP dissolved reactive P, DUP dissolve unreactive P and TDP total dissolved P), again with greater increases of all forms in flooding of previously dried soils. Analysis suggests this is related to reductive dissolution of iron and manganese phosphate minerals in the soils, and also non-reductive dissolution of aluminium phosphate minerals. The soil with higher organic matter and biomass phosphorus released higher concentrations of DUP. The authors conclude that as climate change leads to flooding, and to variations between drought and flooding, P release from soils will increase, especially in soils high in biomass.

“Effects of drying and simulated flooding on soil phosphorus dynamics from two contrasting UK grassland soils”, S. Khan et al., Eur J Soil Sci. 2021;1–12, DOI

 

Scientific testing of options for P-leaching from ashes

Three papers present detailed and systematic experimental comparisons of phosphorus and of heavy metal leaching from ashes of various biowastes, considering different incineration temperatures, and comparing different extractants. These publications provide a wealth of data on phosphorus and heavy metal release from ashes under different conditions and related to analysis of the ash mineralogy.

Fourteen extractants were tested (2020, 1): three mineral acids (sulphuric, hydrochloric, nitric), five organic acids, sodium hydroxide (alkali) and five chelating agents, comparing different extractant concentrations, ash/extractant ratios and contact times. For sewage sludge incineration ash, oxalic acid offered the best compromise between effective phosphorus leaching and limited heavy metal release, but sulphuric acid was most cost-effective.

Comparing extraction from three different biowaste ashes (sewage sludge, poultry manure, meat and bone meal) (2021, 2), showed that P-leaching effectiveness of the organic acids varied considerably with different mineralogy of the three ashes, whereas leaching by the inorganic acids was consistent.

In a third paper (2021, 3), the influence of incineration temperature on mineralogy and P-leaching and heavy metal leaching was studied for ashes from a laboratory muffle furnace (note: the muffle furnace was chosen for reasons of consistency but may not be representative of conditions in real sewage sludge incinerators where conditions vary depending on the technology). The sewage sludge was sampled from the storage bunker at Leuven wwtp, Belgium (Aquafin), where sludge is collected from wwtps operating enhanced biological P-removal as well as dosing iron or aluminium for chemical P-removal. The muffle furnace was operated at 550°C – 1100°C, for two hours. In this case, higher furnace temperatures across the tested range tended to result in lower heavy metal leaching, but temperatures above 900°C also resulted in reduced P-release, probably because mineralogy shifted at higher temperatures (increase in non-identified amorphous phosphate, decreases in crystalline calcium phosphate and amorphous iron phosphate), and because P was fixed into silicate melt at 1100°C. The reduction in P-leaching above 900°C was significant for mineral acids and very considerable for organic acids. The authors conclude that 800°C – 850°C is the optimal temperature range to generate an ash from which phosphorus can be readily leached with limited release of heavy metals, which is similar to the EU Industrial Emissions Directive requirement of a minimum ensured temperature of 850°C for 2 seconds.

2020, 1: “Closing the phosphorus cycle: Multi-criteria techno-economic optimization of phosphorus extraction from wastewater treatment sludge ash”, L. Luyckx et al., Science of the Total Environment 713 (2020) 135543 DOI.

2021, 2: “Linking Phosphorus Extraction from Different Types of Biomass Incineration Ash to Ash Mineralogy, Ash Composition and Chemical Characteristics of Various Types of Extraction Liquids”, L. Luyckx et al., Waste and Biomass Valorization volume 12, pages 5235–5248 (2021) DOI.

2021, 3: “Recovery of phosphorus from sewage sludge ash: Influence of incineration temperature on ash mineralogy and related phosphorus and heavy metal extraction”, L. Luyckx et al., J. Environmental Chemical Engineering 9 (2021) 106471 DOI.

 

 

Overview of sewage sludge regulations in Europe

Summary of limits for contaminants in sewage sludge (used on farmland) across EU Member States and challenges for regulating pollutants in the current EU Sewage Sludge Directive update. The paper notes that many Member States have set limits for one or more contaminants (for sludge used on land) stricter than those in the current EU Sewage Sludge Directive 86/278, resulting in a highly fragmented legal framework. Indeed, in some Member States (e.g. Austria) limits are different in each region. In some cases, limits are defined as a function of regional average soil values. The varying limits for As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn are represented in visual graphics. 19 (of 27) Member States have fixed lower limits for mercury, 18 for cadmium, 16 for nickel, 14 for copper and lead and 10 for zinc. Additionally, 23 Member States have fixed limits for chromium, 8 for arsenic, and one or two also for molybdenum, selenium and beryllium, whereas none of these are regulated by EC 86/278. Twelve Member States have fixed limits for certain pathogens in sewage sludge applied to land (different limits, different pathogens), whereas these are not regulated by 86/278. Some Member States have also fixed limits for organic pollutants regulated by 86/278 which are lower than the limits in this Directive (DEHP, LAS, NP/NPE, PAH, PCB, PCDD/F). The paper highlights the need to also address emerging contaminants, in particular PFOS/PFOA (perfluorinated chemicals) and microplastics. PFOS/PFOA are already regulated in sewage sludge in Austria and Germany. Microplastics are difficult to regulate because of a lack of knowledge on their behaviour and impacts in soil and plants, the absence of agreed protocols for quantifying and characterising microplastics in soils, and because they are widely present in soils irrespective of sludge spreading, because of other sources. The authors note the need to combine safe sewage sludge management, avoiding environmental or health risks, with nutrient recycling.

“Land Application of Biosolids in Europe: Possibilities, Constraints and Future Perspectives”, A. Gianico et al., Water 2021, 13, 103 DOI

 

 

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Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews061
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Events and calls for input
ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022
Phosphates 2022

EU consultations
Consultation on by-products and recovered minerals in EU fertilisers
Possible new materials for considerations for EU fertilisers
Labelling of fertilising products
Bathing Water Quality
Microplastics: EU call for evidence
Revision of pharmaceuticals legislation
Food “Nutrient Profiles”

ESPP new members
Sulzer Pumps
NORSØK (Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture)

EU policy
European Commission Work Programme
Stakeholder call on food chain safety and Circular Economy
Arcadis report on risks of contaminants in fertilisers
EFSA Opinion on (certain) Animal By-Products (ABPs) and EU-fertilising products

ESPP activities
Webinar: regulatory questions around manure recycling
ESPP input to EFSA on Circular Economy
Factsheets on recycling from wastewater: algae, minerals, fibres & polymers
European Commission answer on End-of-Waste for materials from wastewater
Algae grown in wastewater

Nutrient recycling
STOWA report on nitrogen recovery perspectives
Zero P fertilisation does not impact crop productivity in very high P soils
Manure, Nitrates Directive and surplus phosphorus
Literature data review: removal of contaminant metals in thermal sludge treatment
Scenarios for P-recycling in Switzerland

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

Events and calls for input

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

Deadline for submission of abstracts for ESPC4 is 31st December 2021.

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5, and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 (open to 31st December 2021) are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

Phosphates 2022

cru Phosphates 2022 27 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. Programme now online. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational.

10% registration discount for ESPP members. Request the code from ESPP

CRU Phosphates 2022:
https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

EU consultations

Consultation on by-products and recovered minerals in EU fertilisers

To 14th January 2022.Two EU public consultations are open on criteria for use under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation of by-products and of recovered minerals, including nitrogen salts from offgas cleaning and ammonia stripping.

This is the outcome of three years’ work between the European Commission, industry and stakeholders, with the aim of facilitating the circular economy by allowing use of by-products in fertilisers, whilst ensuring safety and avoiding possible contaminants. Fertilizers Europe published in 2019 an inventory of the many by-products today used in mineral fertiliser production.

ESPP strongly welcomes that CMC15 (2b) will enable inclusion in EU-fertilisers of recovered nitrogen salts from offgases, such as ammonium sulphate stripped and recovered from digestates. ESPP considers however that where nitrogen salts are recovered from ammonia from manure storage, manure processing (e.g. digestate) or animal stables, pathogen data is needed to prove sanitary safety and an Animal By-Product End Point should be defined.

ESPP also welcomes that CMC15 (2a) will enable inclusion of e.g. struvite recovered from treatment of discharge from phosphogypsum waste stacks.

We note however that CMC11 and CMC15 as proposed are limited to high-purity inorganic salts and do not cover organic by-products Some organic by-products are covered under existing CMCs (CMC2 mechanically processed plant materials, CMCS 3-5 composts and digestates, CMC6 certain listed food industry by-products, CMC 14 biochars). Others are not, such as from the pulp & paper industry, biofuels processing, etc. This is because little or no information was submitted on organic by-products by the organic fertiliser industry, resulting in organic materials not being considered.

ESPP’s proposed input to the public consultation, as well as various preparatory documents (including the JRC reports) are available at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory. Comments are welcome on the proposed ESPP input before the 14th January 2022 submission deadline, and any person or organisation can input directly to the public consultations (below).

Also on this page are ESPP input to the European Commission on the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions = Fertilising Products Regulation guidance document) and ESPP list of requests for additional new CMCs. Both these documents are ‘ongoing’ and are regularly updated, so comments are welcome.

Public consultation pages for CMCs 11 and 15, open to 15th January 2022
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13113-Fertilisers-high-purity-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products_en
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/13111-Fertilisers-agronomic-efficiency-and-safety-criteria-for-by-products-in-EU-fertilising-products_en

Fertilising Products Regulation FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/46391

Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) initial regulatory text https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019R1009 and adopted amendments: technical progress update 2021/1768 and STRUBIAS materials CMC12 (precipitated phosphates) 2021/2086, CMC13 (ash-derived) 2021/2087 and CMC14 (biochars/pyrolysis/gasification) 2021/2088 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019R1009

ESPP regulatory activities page www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

Possible new materials for considerations for EU fertilisers

The European Commission is considering launching assessment of some further materials for possible inclusion into EU fertilising products (new, additional CMCs). ESPP has made input suggesting and documenting the following materials: derivates of mineral by-products (such as waste spent acids), potassium and other salts from (non CMC13) ashes, ammonium salts from fire extinguisher refurbishment, nitrogen recovery from liquid phase of wastewaters, algae and biomass grown using waste inputs (e.g. grown in wastewaters), fish excreta, seafood processing residues, insect frass, separately collected human urine or faeces, vivianite from sewage, paper and pulp industry residues, biofuel processing residues. Further comments and other proposals can be added to ESPP’s input: please download the current version here and send comments to ESPP.

ESPP regulatory activities page, see “ESPP proposals for additional new CMCs” under “New EU Fertilising Products Regulation” www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

 

Labelling of fertilising products

To 16th February 2022. The EU public consultation on digitalisation of labelling for chemical products includes an important section on what information should be provided for fertilising products, and how. The consultation is a general public questionnaire, open also to companies and other organisations, with 29 questions about how digital tools (e.g. QR code linked to online database) could provide information about certain products placed on the market: fertilising products, detergents, paints. General questions address what form of digital tool would be preferred and what level of information. Specific questions on fertilising products ask what information could be moved from the label to online: e.g. information on product function, nutrients content, organic carbon content, storage conditions, risk mitigation measures, low in cadmium, low in chloride, solubility of phosphorus, etc. These questions are posed for fertilisers, liming materials, soil improvers, growing media, inhibitors and biostimulants.

EU consultation “Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation”, open to 16th February 2022. Consultation.

 

 

Bathing Water Quality

To 20th January 2022. General public consultation questionnaire on knowledge of, information wished and public policy on bathing waters. Algae are cited as amongst potential concerns about bathing water (Q20) and agricultural run-off (faecal pollution, nutrient surplus, etc.), municipal waste water, eutrophication and proliferation of algae are cited as possible pressures affecting bathing water quality (Q36).

EU consultation “Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation”, open to 20th January 2022. Consultation.

 

Microplastics: EU call for evidence

To 18th January 2022. Call for evidence on microplastics unintentionally released into the environment, including capturing at source, and aiming to improve monitoring of microplastics in the environment, drinking water and food. The call for evidence reminds that the Green Deal fixes the objective to reduce microplastics by 30% by 2030. It emphasises release of microplastics by synthetic textile fibres and from vehicle tires and notes that microplastics will be addressed in the ongoing reviews of the Urban Waste Water Treatment and Sewage Sludge Directives, specifically microplastics in sewage sludge used on fields. Possible approaches proposed in the call for evidence (4 pages) include market incentives to reduce unintentional microplastics releases, knowledge and data gaps, harmonised measurement of microplastics, consumer information, Ecodesign for tires or textiles, capture via green infrastructure, technical solutions to capture microplastics on washing machines or driers, separation of microplastics from sewage sludge.

The call for evidence is a free text field (4000 characters) with the possibility to submit documents.

Call for evidence. “Microplastics pollution – measures to reduce its impact on the environment”. Open to 18th January 2022.

 

Revision of pharmaceuticals legislation

To 21st December 2021. This EU general public consultation questionnaire includes a question (Q13) on emerging environmental challenges from human pharmaceuticals, in which it is possible to add comments (at the end of the questionnaire, under “other”) on obstacles posed to nutrient recycling by pharmaceuticals in sewage.

EU consultation “Chemicals – simplification and digitalisation of labelling requirements”, open to 21st December 2021. Consultation.

 

Food “Nutrient Profiles”

To 7th March 2022. This general public consultation concerns consumer information about certain aspects of food only, aiming at healthier eating (energy value, fat, saturates, carbohydrates, sugars, protein, salt, fibre) and also addresses “eat by” dates, origin labelling and information on alcoholic drinks. Phosphorus and minerals such as calcium or magnesium are not addressed. This results from the definition of food “nutrient profiles” in Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods: “nutrient profiles … shall be established taking into account in particular: (a) the quantities of certain nutrients and other substances contained in the food, such as fat, saturated fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, sugars and salt/sodium”.

EU consultation “Facilitating healthier food choices – establishing nutrient profiles”, open to 7th March 2022. Consultation.

 

 

 

ESPP new members

 

Sulzer Pumps

New ESPP member, Sulzer Pumps, is a leader in fluid engineering, with products adapted for many sectors, including phosphate and fertiliser production, as well as water treatment. Sulzer engages on innovation and sustainability.

Sulze r is a global leader in fluid engineering. We specialize in pumping, agitation, mixing, separation and purification technologies for fluids of all types. Our customers benefit from our commitment to innovation, performance and quality and from our responsive network of 180 world-class manufacturing facilities and service centres across the globe. Sulzer has been headquartered in Winterthur, Switzerland, since 1834.

Sustainability is engrained in our corporate strategy and embedded in daily business. Starting in 2020, ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) is included in the personal objectives of all our Long-Term-Incentive eligible leaders, shining a spotlight on what our annual employee survey tells us is one of the main societal contributions our people expect from Sulzer.

As an expert in solutions for corrosive and abrasive liquids, or those with high gas content, Sulzer offers specialist pumps, agitators, mixers and compressors for the fertilizer industry. Our products are suitable for the production of phosphate, potash and NPK compound fertilizers as well as acids and industrial chemicals.

Sulzer’s extensive portfolio of solutions for pumping, mixing, grinding, aeration and separation processes covers all applications for industrial water treatment. Optimized solutions ensure that your installation provides sustainability and an excellent return on investment. Our water treatment technologies are used at the forefront of a wide range of water intensive industries, such as pulp and paper, food and beverage as well as mining, fertilizers and chemicals.

By joining ESPP, Sulzer Pumps will engage with like-minded organisations that are focussed on innovation and sustainability

www.sulzer.com

 

 

NORSØK (Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture)

NORSØK provides R&D support to Organic agriculture in Norway, including work on soil fertility, fertilisation, manure management and recycled fertilisers, in particular using residuals from the seafood industry.

The Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture (NORSØK) was established in 1986, as a private foundation and research institute to conduct research and development activities to support the development of Organic production in Norway. From 1996 to 2005 NORSØK was part of Bioforsk (which is now NIBIO). Today, 25 people work at NORSØK, located at Tingvoll better reference https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tingvoll , close to Trondheim in a region agriculturally dominated by dairy farming, but where aquaculture and fishery are much larger industries. NIBIO (formerly Bioforsk) also has a department at Tingvoll, and NORSØK and NIBIO collaborate closely. Soil fertility and the fertilisation of crop plants is a major research topic for Organic Farming, and since 2012, NORSØK is working on recycled fertilisers and soil improvers. We have tested struvite from Norwegian sewage, sediments from hydrolysed slaughter waste, and marble mining residues. More recently, several projects have been carried out with residual materials from marine industries. Fishbones are a rich source of N, Ca and P, and seaweed is a rapidly emerging industry which may complete fish residues in K, S, etc. NORSØK also works with animal farming systems and on management of animal manure e.g., manure storage gas emissions, soil organic matter dynamics and soil health. NORSØK (and NIBIO Tingvoll) are located on an Organic dairy farm, and soil characteristics, such as the P concentrations, are monitored since 1994. NORSØK has followed ESPP activities over several years, since we participated in the CORE Organic project “Improve P”, assessing how more recycled fertilisers could be applied in Organic agriculture. With several current projects on recycled fertilisers, it is now a time to become an ESPP member, says NORSØK director, Ms. Turid Strøm.

https://www.norsok.no/en/

 

EU policy

 

European Commission Work Programme

The Commission’s Work Programme for 2022 cites as priorities, within the Green Deal, water policy, zero pollution, arm-to fork and the circular economy. Listed regulatory initiatives already underway include: Revision (REFIT) of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, Revised lists of water pollutants (Zero Pollution Action Plan), Bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics, Restrictions on micro-plastics and their release in the environment, Development of “National Strategic Plans that deliver on the objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Green Deal”, Finalisation of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

European Commission Work Programme for 2022, 19th October 2021, COM(2021)645 HERE.

 

Stakeholder call on food chain safety and Circular Economy

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) is calling for stakeholders to identify emerging risks and vulnerabilities for the food chain and for animal feed related to the Circular Economy. This is within a two-year study underway 2021-2022. Stakeholders will be able to engage in this project through workshops and consultation, contribute to identifying issues, risks and knowledge gaps and possible policy needs. The study objectives include defining principles and make recommendations to ensure coherence between environment and human food and animal feed safety.

EFSA call for stakeholders (not dated) HERE.

EFSA workshop on ‘Food and Feed Safety Vulnerabilities in Circular Economy’, 29th October 2021: HERE.

 

Arcadis report on risks of contaminants in fertilisers

The EU has published a report on possible risks of cadmium, chromium, vanadium, mercury, diclofenac, PFAS, dioxins and fluoride in mineral, organic and recycled fertilisers, under EU or national regulation. The report was commissioned by DG Environment and aimed to assess all possible contaminants in fertilisers (mineral, organic, organo-mineral, but not covering liming materials, soil improvers, nor fertilising products not placed on the market, such as manure or sewage sludge).

The report estimates that P and N use in fertilisers in the EU fell by respectively -66% and -24% from 1980 to 2015, to 8.6 kgP/ha and 77 kgN/ha. Organic fertilisers are estimated at only around 5% of fertiliser nutrient markets.

After consideration of a range of contaminants, the eight indicated above were prioritised for assessment and the following findings and recommendations are presented:

No risks were identified for chromium, mercury or vanadium, based on levels found in some mineral fertilisers and/or maximum levels authorised under the Fertilising Products Regulation ‘STRUBIAS’ criteria for ashes (CMC13). However, for vanadium, the report indicates that the risk assessment scenario (worst case) would lead to a rapid accumulation in soils (x10 in 10 years).

Fluoride is considered “low risk”.  The report suggests that use of mineral fertilisers could lead to a doubling of soil fluorine levels by 100 years, with possible risks for grazing animals. No concern for human intake is identified.

Diclofenac is considered “low risk”. This is an organochlorine drug used as anti-inflammatory and pain-killer. Even assuming 1 – 10% transfer from sewage sludge to precipitated phosphates or biochars, “the contribution of recycled fertilisers to the total input of diclofenac to agriculture soil is likely to be negligible”. Monitoring of manure is however recommended (diclofenac is used in livestock, but calls have been made for it to be banned because its presence in carcasses is known to kill vultures).

For dioxins (PCDD/F), the EU Fertilising Products Regulation ‘STRUBIAS’ limit for ash used in production of ash-derived recovered fertilisers (CMC13) and for biochars (CMC14) was considered for risk assessment (20 ng WHO tox.eq. / kg dm). It is not taken into account that in the CMC13 criteria this limit applies to the raw ash, not to the fertilising product derived from it, which in many cases will be purified. Using this ‘worst case’ level, it is noted that the main source of PCDD/F is atmospheric deposition. Nonetheless possible risk is identified for humans via food. Therefore, it is recommended to reduce the 20 ng WHOtox.equiv. limit currently set by CMC13 and to apply this limit to all fertilisers, presumably meaning also ashes, ash derived fertilisers or biochars used under national fertilisers regulations.

For cadmium, the report states that calculations suggest a risk for soils after 100 years of application of mineral fertilisers with 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 (that is the limit currently fixed in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation) but no risk at 20 mgCd/kgP2O5. The report also suggests possible risk for humans from cadmium in food, in case of high intakes of vegetables. These results assume an annual application rate of 100 kgP2O5/ha/year, based on secondary data for fertiliser use in areas with low soil P, whereas it seems incoherent to consider that such a level would be applied for 100 years. The report underlines high levels of uncertainty, in particular concerning fate of cadmium in soils and transfer to crops, and wide regional variation depending on background soil cadmium levels. Also, it is noted that the report does not take into account the alternative leaching model of Smolders et al. (summarised in ESPP eNews n°27 2018) for which it is stated “It is highly recommended to take into account their findings to further finetune the above assessment, as the accumulation over time has likely been overestimated.”

For PFAS, an assessment was made based on a “hypothetical” 100 µg/kg dw of PFOA and of PFHxA in recovered fertilisers (e.g. precipitated phosphates or ash-derived). This number was taken from Austrian fertiliser regulations (0.1 mg/kg limit for PFOA + PFHxA) and not on any data. It is noted that the main sources to the environment are sewage sludge biosolids, composts, irrigation water and atmospheric deposition, not recycled fertilisers (even with this hypothetical level). The report therefore recommends to “remove PFAS as completely as possible from fertilising materials”. ESPP supports this and suggests that the best way to achieve this is to implement the proposed PFAS ban announced in the EU Chemical Strategy 2020 and in the Commission working document SWD(2020)249.

The report also considers pyrazoles (in particular 3-methylpyrazole) which are used as nitrification inhibitors in nitrogen fertilisers, concluding that there may be possible risk from 3-M to soil organisms, related to the substance’s slow degradation in soil, and that further data collection should be made.

DG Environment has underlined that this report is not a “risk assessment” for fertilisers, nor for the eight substances assessed, but rather a screening exercise, intended to identify for which contaminants and for which uses further data collection and risk assessment should be carried out, prior to possible action under REACH (European Chemicals Regulation) to possibly ban or limit levels of these substances, if appropriate, in all fertilisers in Europe (both EU and national fertilisers).

“Contaminants in fertilisers: Assessment of the risks from their presence and socio-economic impacts of a possible restriction under REACH”, ARCADIS, Arcadia, Vander Straeten, DHI, for the European Commission DG Environment, Final Report under contract 070201/2019/817112/SER/ENV.B2, July 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/pdf/20210726-FInal%20report-V2c.pdf

This follows on from the strongly criticised “AMEC” report on contaminants in composts and digestates published by DG Environment in 2019, see www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews041

 

EFSA Opinion on (certain) Animal By-Products (ABPs) and EU-fertilising products

This is supposed to be the first step towards including in the European Fertilising Products Regulation a number of ABP Derived Products which are already widely used across Europe. However, the EFSA document (111 pages) does not seem, in ESPP’s view, to be positive for some materials; and other materials are still not yet addressed.

ESPP underlines that today the materials considered in this EFSA Opinion are already “widely used in the EU as fertilisers and soil improvers”. This is stated in the FPR art. 46(1)). The difference between current use (under national fertilisers regulations), and possible use under the EU FPR, is that at present the materials are authorised for use but only with “traceability” (products containing such ABP Derived Products sold under national fertiliser legislation must be distributed with a system of traceability for the ABP Derived Products). If authorised as EU fertilising products, the materials would be free to move on the EU market with no traceability

FPR implementation and the EFSA Opinion

To enable use of ABP Derived Products in EU-fertilisers, Council and Parliament specified in art. 46 of the FPR (modifying art. 5 of the ABP Regulation 1069/2009) that before 15th January 2020, the European Commission should “initiate a first assessment” of certain listed ABP Derived Products (see table below). Three and a half months after this deadline, on 30th April 2020, DG SANTE transmitted to EFSA an initial mandate 2020-0088 requesting a scientific Opinion on these listed materials. However, following modifications to this mandate made by DG SANTE, the EFSA Opinion in fact only covers some, and not all, of the listed materials (see table below).

The EFSA Opinion was adopted 20th October 2021 and published December 2021.

In order for the ABP Derived Products concerned by this Opinion to be used in EU-fertilisers and placed on the market without restrictions from the ABP Regulation, DG SANTE must now prepare and enact amendments to the ABP Regulation 1069/2009 defining an appropriate “End-Point” (for use as an EU fertilising product) for each material.

EFSA has underlined to ESPP that EFSA did not conduct a risk assessment of the use of these materials as fertilisers, and that the EFSA document does not constitute an opinion on the “safety” of these materials used as fertilisers. Indeed, the European Commission DG SANTE mandate to EFSA requested a scientific opinion on whether certain specified treatment processes for certain materials would reduce (by specified levels) certain types of pathogens. The EFSA Opinion states that “as a result of the … request from the European Commission the output … was not a full risk assessment, but consisted of the estimation of the level of inactivation / reduction of concentration of biological hazards …”. Thus, the EFSA Opinion indicates only with what % certainty the experts consider that the processes already specified in the ABP Regulation annexes, for each material, are able to reduce selected indicator microorganisms to a certain level. For example, for “Pig Bristles”, EFSA concludes that it is only 33% - 66% likely that heating for 5 minutes at 100°C will achieve the specified reduction of the most resistant of the indicator microorganisms considered (the experts are 50% - 95% certain if 100°c is applied for 60 minutes).

ESPP notes that these conclusions raise questions given that the materials concerned are today widely used in national fertilising products across Europe, and have been for many years.

Regulatory wording:

Animal By-Products themselves, that is without treatment or processing, cannot be included into EU fertilising Products, only Derived Products (by FPR recital (18) and wording of CMC10).

A “Derived Product” is defined in the Animal By-Products Regulation 1069/2009 art.3.2 as a product obtained from an ABP by any process or treatment.

Art. 46 of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR), modifying art. 5 of the ABP Regulation 1069/2009, states that for “Derived Products” referred in articles 32, 35 and 36 (of 1069/2009), an “End-Point” may be determined (by European Commission DG SANTE decision, i.e. a delegated act modifying Regulation 1069/2009). The End-Point should be such that the Derived Products “no longer pose significant risk” and are no longer subject to ABP Regulation controls. Derived Products having reached the End Point may be placed on the market without restrictions and are no longer subject to ABP  Regulation controls.

It is ESPP’s view that together, art. 36 of 1069/2009 (“other” Derived Products), with art. 46 of the FPR, effectively mean that any ABP Derived Product (from Cat. 1, 2 or 3 ABPs) could in the future be included into EU fertilising products, subject to defining an End-Point (processing and materials criteria) which ensures safe sourcing and/or safe treatment as defined in 1069/2009 arts. 27 and 38.

This published EFSA Opinion, however, addresses only Cat.2 and 3 ABPs and Derived Products because this was requested by DG SANTE and corresponds to the “first assessment” specified in FPR art. 46.4.

ESPP notes that art. 46 of the FPR instructs the Commission to assess Derived Products “referred to” in art. 32 of the ABP Regulation 1069/2009 (this article is confusingly titled “Organic fertilisers and soil improvers”, but in fact also covers inorganic materials such as ashes). The EFSA Opinion however addresses ABPs/Derived products “used as organic fertilisers and/or soil improvers”.

EFSA conclusions (simplified summary by ESPP)

Composts and digestates, where manure (and/or other Cat. 3 or Cat. 2 ABPs) are inputs, and also (discards of) pet food, feed and dog chews, were not assessed by EFSA, following modification of the mandate by DG SANTE. This is despite their being listed in art. 46(1)4 of the FPR Regulation.

For ashes, the EFSA Opinion indicates 99-100% certainty that the specified processes ensure the specified levels of pathogen reduction for Cat.2 and Cat.3 ABPs. EFSA indicates that Cat.1 ABPs were excluded from the assessment, and the pathogens considered by EFSA do not include prions.

For the other ABP materials assessed by EFSA the level of scientific certainty is lower, ranging from 1% - 33% to 98% - 100%, for different materials and for different microorganisms.

What next?

Given the slow progress on this dossier, ESPP fears that it today looks unlikely that any Animal By-Product Derived Products will be eligible for inclusion in or processing into EU fertilising products when the FPR enters into application in July 2022, even for those materials explicitly cited by in art. 46(1) of the FPR (c.f. CMC10), even for the materials covered in the ESFA Opinion for which the conclusion seems positive, and even for materials which are today widely used under national fertilisers regulations, and have been for many years.

For certain other materials which were not specified in the FPR art. 46(1), it may be appropriate that either the European Commission and/or industry should now request an Opinion from EFSA, to enable progress towards inclusion into the FPR and/or to ensure farmer and consumer confidence in safety:  biochars / pyrolysis materials (with manure or other ABPs as inputs), nitrogen salts recovered from offgases of manure storage, manure processing or livestock stables, Cat.1 ABP ashes.

EFSA Opinion of 30th October 2021 “Inactivation of indicator microorganisms and biological hazards by standard and/or alternative processing methods in Category 2 and 3 animal by-products and derived products to be used as organic fertilisers and/or soil improvers” https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/6932 and https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2021.6932


Animal By-Products Derived Products: these cannot be “used” under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009
unless and until an End-Point is added to the ABP Regulation 1069/2009
:

Material

Cited in FPR art. 46(1)

Relevant CMC

Conclusions
of EFSA Opinion 20/10/21 *

Meat meal

YES

ABP Derived Products as specified in the EU Fertilising Products Regulation CMC10.

 

CMC10 is currently an “empty box” pending the inclusion of ABP materials to be defined.

Not addressed

Bone meal

YES

Not addressed

Meat and bone meal

YES

Not addressed

Hydrolysed Cat.3 proteins

YES

Not addressed

Processed manure

YES

Not addressed

Feather meal

YES

Not addressed

Glycerine and other materials from production of biofuels and renewable fuels
(for the specific processes considered)

YES

90% - 100% for Cat.2
66% - 99% for Cat.3

Petfood, feed and dog chews

YES

Not addressed

Blood

YES

Not addressed

Hides and skins **

YES

10% – 66%

Pig bristles ** (after treatment for 5 / 60 minutes)

YES

33% - 66% / 50% - 95%

Hoofs and horns **

YES

66% - 95%

Feathers and down **

 

66% - 90%

Wool and hair **

YES

1% - 50%

Bird and bat guano

YES

Not addressed

Precipitated phosphates [and derivates] from manure and/or ABPs

No

CMC12

 

Biochar / pyrolysis materials [and derivates] from manure and/or ABPs

No

CMC14

 

Cats. 2 & 3 ABP incineration ash [and derivates]

No

CMC13

99% – 100%

Cat. 1 ABP incineration ash [and derivates]

No

Currently excluded from FPR CMC13

 

Compost

YES

CMC3

Not addressed

Digestate

YES

CMC5

Nitrogen recovered from manure processing offgas or from livestock stable offgas

No

Proposed in CMC15

 

 * the % indicated is the degree of scientific certainty that, for the material, the specified processes will achieve the required reduction of levels of the most resistant of the specified pathogens. When multiple processes for the same material have been assessed, the % range covers the lowest and the highest % for any of these.

 ** art. 46(1)4 refers to “derived products from blood of animals, hides and skins, hoof and hors, guano of bats and birds, wool and hair feather and downs, and pig bristles”. EFSA has however indicated that DG SANTE did not request an assessment of ‘derived products’ from these materials, but only of the materials themselves. See discussion above

 

ESPP activities

 

Webinar: regulatory questions around manure recycling

This ESPP event attracted over 500 participants online (nearly 700 registrations). ESPP’s slides, providing a number of reference information links, and the edited ‘Chat’ with added comments and answers to questions, are now published.  The webinar was an opportunity for discussion and asking questions, and the recording is made available to participants only, however the documents online (slides, edited ‘chat’) provide information about recycling into animal feed, EU Fertilising Products Regulation (status of manure, consequences of post-processing composts or digestates), pyrolysis./ biochar materials, ammonia recovery from manure, etc.

ESPP webinar on regulatory challenges around manure recycling, 24th November 2021: LINK.

 

ESPP input to EFSA on Circular Economy

ESPP has input to the European Food Safety Agency EFSA’s study into circularity and human food and animal feed safety. ESPP underlines the potential for nutrient recycling to the food chain, in fertilisers or animal feed, and the need to both ensure full safety (and public confidence in this safety) and at the same time address regulatory obstacles to nutrient recycling. ESPP suggests to establish an “EU food chain circular economy info point” to advise developers and producers of circular economy materials, who are often from outside the food and feed industry, and have difficulty understanding the specific regulations applicable in these sectors. ESPP suggests that the EFSA study should consider the circularity and safety issues of recycled materials in fertilisers and processing of secondary materials before use in fertilisers, feed or foods: extraction of specific substances from secondary materials, use of waste streams to feed algae or microbial protein production, chemical re-processing of wastes to mineral nutrients. A detailed annex to the letter lists a number of regulatory obstacles identified at present to nutrient recycling which are relevant to EFSA.

ESPP letter to EFSA 10_12_2021 on ESPP’s “regulatory” web page www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

EFSA call (open) for stakeholder input (information, engagement …) on “Food and feed safety vulnerabilities in a circular economy” HERE

 

Factsheets on recycling from wastewater: algae, minerals, fibres & polymers

Eureau, with support from a group of stakeholders including ESPP, has published three factsheets outlining the need for EU End-of-Waste criteria and the market potential for materials which can be recovered from wastewater: algae biomass, fibres polymers and other organics, mineral chemicals. The three fact sheets cover non-fertiliser applications, in that the process for obtaining EU End-of-Waste status for fertiliser uses is the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. The fact sheets aim to show EU regulators why End-of-Waste criteria are needed for these materials, and the potential markets which could be unlocked, and more widely to foster dialogue on resource recovery from wastewater. After consultation by LEAF of over 100 stakeholders, the fact sheets estimate that up to 210 000 t/y (DM) algae could be produced using wastewater nutrients, 100 000 t/y of cellulose and bioplastics could be recovered/produced, and 65 000 tP/y and 75 000 tN/y in recovered mineral salt chemicals.

Eureau – resources – news “Valuing our recyclable materials”, 1st December 2021

 

European Commission answer on End-of-Waste for materials from wastewater

The European Commission has answered a Parliamentary Question by MEP Jan Huitema on recycling from wastewaters, suggesting future mandatory recycling content requirements and Green Public Purchasing.: Mr Huitema’s question asked whether the Commission would prioritise materials recovered from sewage for the definition of EU End-of-Waste Criteria (see ESPP eNews n°59) and what actions were envisaged to bolster the market for recycled materials  The answer from the European Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, reminds that EU End-of-Waste criteria are provided for precipitated phosphates (CMC12), ash-derived materials (CMC13) and gas-recovered nitrogen salts (CMC15 pending) under the EU Fertilising Products Regulation. He indicates that streams prioritised for definition of EU End-of-Waste criteria will be defined by end 2021 (ESPP note: the Commission suggested however at the stakeholder workshop of 14-15 September that probably only one material would be looked at in 2022, out of all possible waste streams). Mr Sinkevičius also states that, under the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission will “enhance the role of standardisation, … develop mandatory recycled content requirements and facilitate the uptake of products containing recycled content through mandatory green public procurement rules”.

Jan Huitema, European Parliamentary Questions, 2 September 2021 (E-004040/2021) and answer from Virginijus Sinkevičius HERE.

 

Algae grown in wastewater

ESPP, Eureau and EABA letter have wet a formal letter to the European Commission asking for clarification of the regulatory status of algae and biomass grown in wastewater, or using other secondary material inputs. Such algae production uses ‘waste’ as an input, but it is unclear whether the resulting biomass itself a ‘waste’? Is End-of-Waste status relevant? Consequently, can materials extracted from such waste-fed biomass be used under CMC1 of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation ? Production of algae or other biomass can be highly effective in treatment of and nutrient removal from wastewaters, or in treating offgases, enabling valorisation of secondary nutrients and trapping of carbon dioxide.

ESPP – Eurea – EABA letter 17_11_2021 at ESPP regulatory activities page www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

Nutrient recycling

 

STOWA report on nitrogen recovery perspectives

Long-term, most sewage works influent N could be recovered, covering half of mineral fertiliser N use. Short term, stripping from sewage sludge digestate could represent one fifth of this potential (10% of fertiliser use). The long-term refers to a scenario with redesign of sewage works as circular water centres. The report by STOWA, the Netherlands water boards’ joint research foundation, is based on a survey and interviews: 9 replies to 30 questionnaires sent to nitrogen industry operators, interviews of experts and companies. STOWA estimate sewage in the Netherlands (influent to the water boards’ treatment works) contains around 84 ktN, of which at present 66% is emitted to air, 15% to effluent and 19% remains in sewage sludge. The report analyses four N-recovery technologies based on:

  • Stripping of ammonia from sewage sludge digestate (centrate) and recovery of ammonium salts (scrubbing): AMFER, GMB BioEnergie, Detricon, Nijhuis, Yara, Circular Values BV, Eawag. Operating at industrial or pilot stage.
  • Membrane stripping (use of a gas-permeable membrane to improve the stripping as above, ammonium salts or ammonia solution can be recovered): Powerstep (Eawag, Artemis, Sustec). Operating at full-scale pilot stage.
  • Bipolar membrane electrodialysis (similar to membrane stripping, but with combination with electrodialysis improves ammonia separation): TU Delft, Newbies (W&F, Wetsus, ICRA, Evides). R&D pilot stage only.
  • Ion exchange (adsorption of ammonia from solution by an ion exchange resin or using zeolite, then regeneration to recover an acidic solution of ammonium salts): SVB Sluisjesdick, Necovery, Waterfabriek. R&D pilot stage only.

The report identifies challenges to N-recovery from sewage, in particular possible contaminants in the recovered product, logistics and marketing of recovered product, legislative obstacles (waste status of recovered N, need for authorisation as a fertiliser under national and/or EU Fertilising Products Regulation) and cost, but considers that increasing natural gas prices could make recovered N increasingly competitive compared to Haber-Bosch N (synthetic mineral N fertilisers). However, there are opportunities in the Netherlands water boards’ objective of “full circularity” by 2050 and the advantages of N-recovery in reducing N2O emissions in the sewage plant and avoiding CO2 emissions in production of synthetic N fertiliser.

“Stikstofterugwinning uit rioolwater; van marktambitie naar praktijk” (Nitrogen recovery from sewage; from market ambition to practice), STOWA report 2021-35 (12th October 2021, 104 pages, in Dutch) https://www.stowa.nl/publicaties/stikstofterugwinning-uit-rioolwater-van-marktambitie-naar-praktijk

 

 

Zero P fertilisation does not impact crop productivity in very high P soils

Different crops were tested with zero P fertiliser in Flanders at sites with very high initial soil P. No loss in crop yield was seen after four years compared to organic plus mineral fertiliser applied to local limits. Trial plots were at 2 sites, on a total of 14 ha. Initial soil P was 380 – 470 P-AL (ammonium lactate extractable), PSD (Phosphorus Saturation Degree) 29 – 34. Zero P-fertilisation reduced the field P balance, but had no measurable effect on soil phosphorus stocks after four years: soil P-AL dropped slightly in both P-fertilised and zero P-fertiliser plots, whereas PSD increased slightly or was unchanged, again with P-fertilisation making no apparent difference. Soil organic carbon levels also showed no changes related to the fertilisation regime. Unsurprisingly, given the absence of impact on soil P levels and the initial high soil P, crop yields were also non significantly modified by the four years of zero P fertilisation. The authors note that ryegrass, silage maize, celeriac and Chinese cabbage removed more P than other crops tested (potato, leek, fennel, lettuce, endive). This study shows that if soil P levels are high, then crop yields can be maintained for several years without P-fertiliser application. The study does not indicate how the soil P levels at the test sites compare agronomic soil P index recommendations.

“Soil phosphorus (P) mining in agriculture – Impacts on P availability, crop yields and soil organic carbon stocks”, S. Vandermoere et al., Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 322 (2021) 107660 DOI.

 

 

Manure, Nitrates Directive and surplus phosphorus

Based on pig and poultry numbers and feed data, application of manure to Nitrates Directive N-limits can result in P inputs many times higher than estimated crop offtake, and so, depending on soil P status, P-losses to surface waters. Pig meat is the largest source of animal protein in Europe, with nearly 250 million pigs slaughtered annually. Europe also slaughtered 7 000 million poultry (broilers) and counted nearly 370 million egg-laying hens. The authors present data on pig and poultry livestock numbers and P/N ratios in manure, topsoil phosphorus levels across Europe. Because poultry and pigs are monogastric (like humans), they cannot digestate phytate, the principal form in which phosphorus is stored in plants, P/N ratios in manure generally lead to surplus P application, even where manure application is limited under the EU Nitrates Directive (170 kgN/ha from manure and processed manure). The authors note that phosphorus storage can result in loss of up to half of manure nitrogen, as ammonia or nitrogen gases, so leading to N/P ratios down to around 2. Excess P applied to soil in manure may initially accumulate in soil, leading to increased soil P levels. P losses to surface waters will depend on manure application and manure N/P ratios, but also on crop offtake and on soil P status. The authors conclude that measures are needed to improve livestock P and N use efficiency, to improve manure management, to reduce N losses to the atmosphere and reduce soil P accumulation and P losses to surface waters. Such measures can include manure acidification, ammonia stripping/recovery, drying and pelletising and P-removal/recovery.

“Phosphorus Flows, Surpluses, and N/P Agronomic Balancing When Using Manure from Pig and Poultry Farms”, A. Rosemarin, N. Ekane & K. Andersson, Agronomy 2021, 11, 2228 DOI.

 

 

Literature data review: removal of contaminant metals in thermal sludge treatment

Data from 37 publications is analysed on how heavy metal vaporisation (and so removal) during sewage sludge incineration is impacted by different chlorine additives, temperature, treatment conditions and type of sludge. Chlorine donors used in the identified studies are magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium, aluminium and iron chloride, hydrochloric acid and PVC. Process temperatures ranged from 300°C to 1200°C, residence time from 1.5 to 1400 minutes, combustion conditions from incineration to pyrolysis and input material from wet sewage sludge to sludge incineration ash. Consequently, heavy metal removal rates varied very widely, from 0 – 99% for cadmium, 10 – 99% for lead, 0 – 80% for copper and zinc, 0- 75% for chromium, 0 – 60% for nickel and arsenic. Higher temperatures, above 800°C – 900°C, generally achieved high levels of removal of cadmium, lead and copper, but lower removal of zinc, arsenic, chromium and nickel. Nickel and chromium show as particularly difficult to remove by vaporisation. The wide variation of removal rates shows the potential for improving  heavy metal removal by specifically adapting pyrolysis or incineration process design and management, and the paper provides a useful source of overview data and references.

“Trace metal elements vaporization and phosphorus recovery during sewage sludge thermochemical treatment – A review”, B. Galey, M. Gautier, et al., J. Hazardous Materials 424 (2022) 127360 DOI.

 

Scenarios for P-recycling in Switzerland

A study, with Cantons and operators of North West Switzerland, of options for P-recovery from sewage suggest decisions are difficult to take today because of lack of agreement on cost-sharing between operators.

The study, led by FHNW within the Phos4You Interreg project, from 2019 to 2021, considered the four Cantons around Basel, Argovia and Solothurn, population 1.5 million (17% of Swiss population). Currently, the four Cantons produce c. 43 000 tDM/y sewage sludge, of which c. 63% goes to sewage sludge (mono)incineration plants, 25% to cement works and 12% to municipal refuse incinerators. The region has spare disposal capacity and imports sludge from other regions (the region currently disposes of 38% of total Swiss sewage sludge). Over the coming 10-15 years, all the sludge incineration plants of the four Cantons are expected to be decommissioned, so providing the opportunity to either build new mono-incineration capacity or other technologies, and to integrate the P-recovery system into the new plants, depending on the scenario chosen.

A number of scenarios were considered based on nine technologies:

  • P-recovery from sewage sludge (mono)incineration ash (SSIA) by acid attack and purification: EcoPhos (now Prayon)*, Parforce*, Phos4Life**, REALphos. The ash could either be treated in Switzerland or exported to an operator elsewhere in Europe.
  • Mixed incineration of sewage sludge and meat and bone meal, then reaction with phosphoric or other acid, resulting in dilution of contaminants and increased plant P availability: ZAB/Phos4Green (Glatt)**.
  • Modified incineration processes where specific reactor conditions and additives remove some heavy metals and improve the plant availability of the P in the resulting ash. EuPhoRe**, Pyrophos,
  • Enhanced struvite recovery from the sewage sludge (i.e. after biological or chemical processing to release P) then incineration of the P-depleted sludge in (existing) cement works: PhosForce**, Stuttgart.
  • “Wait and see”, where current sludge disposal routes are continued and investment decisions are postponed (2026 is deadline fixed by the Swiss P-recovery obligation) in order to have better information and avoid risks resulting from being first movers.

The six main operators in sewage sludge disposal today (ARA Rhein, ProRheno, Erzo, STRAG, ZAR/ KEBAG, Geocycle/Holcim) and the four Cantons participated in workshops and validated the conclusions.

The information available today resulted in variations for most criteria assessed between technology suppliers for the same scenario. No scenario performs overall “better” than the others, preference depends on different operators’ relative weighting of criteria for cost, environmental performance, future robustness and disposal safety. Challenges identified include lack of full-scale operating experience to support estimates of technology investment and operating costs, need for reliable long-term contracts with technology suppliers especially if ash is exported for treatment outside Switzerland, difficulty to reliably recover sufficient phosphorus for technologies aiming to recover from sludge given that the recovery target in Switzerland may be raised in the future from 50% to 75% (rather than recovery after mono-incineration), difficulty to obtain meat and bone meal ash for technologies planning to use this input in their process (to achieve Swiss fertiliser requirements which are stricter than those of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation).

The median total net additional cost for P-recovery (compared to sludge disposal without P-recovery) across the different scenarios and technologies is estimated at c. 110 CHF/t dewatered sludge, that is 1.4 €/year per inhabitant.

** and *: see ESPP-DPP-NNP Nutrient Recovery Technology Catalogue (** = TRL6+, * = R&D)

Summary of Swiss P-recovery obligation and Swiss quality requirements for recovered fertilisers: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Scope129

Ful report in German: https://pxch.ch/uploads/1/1/1/7/111701981/pnws.pdf

Inventory of Swiss incineration plants in German: https://pxch.ch/uploads/1/1/1/7/111701981/inventur_der_schweizer_kva_v2.pdf

Inventory of Swiss sludge drying plants in German: https://pxch.ch/uploads/1/1/1/7/111701981/inventar_kstrocknung.pdf

 

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ESPP members

espp members

 

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews060
Download as PDF

Events and calls for input
ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022
Phosphates 2022
Baltic Nutrient Recycling Strategy implementation webinar
Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils
Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022
Call for information on P flows and resources for EU Critical Raw Material assessment

EU consultations and tenders
EU public consultations open
EU tender on fertilising products technical documentation

Nutrient recycling
Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming
Updated overview of phosphorus recovery and/or recycling facilities
Swiss update report on P-recovery technologies
LCA and greenhouse gas benefits of recycled nitrogen
Pathogens in struvite from poultry manure digestate
Fertilisers from spent fire extinguisher power
P-fertiliser and lithium recovery from batteries
Sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) shows limited P fertiliser efficiency
Potential for P-recovery from meat processing
Impacts of ferric on anaerobic digestion

Eutrophication and nutrient losses
Wisconsin’s nutrient pollution trading system
Climate change, eutrophication and algal toxins

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Events and calls for input

 

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5, and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

7 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants.

cru Phosphates 2022Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational.

CRU Phosphates 2022: https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

Baltic Nutrient Recycling Strategy implementation webinar

Monday 22 November 2021, 9h00 – 12h45 CET. This webinar will address challenges and opportunities in implementation of the HELCOM Nutrient Recycling Strategy, with the Finland Ministry of the Environment, UBA Germany, Lithuania Ministry for Agriculture, HELCOM, European Commission DG Agriculture and DG GROW, Swedish Water, etc.

Webinar “PA Nutri and PA Bioeconomy webinar on the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy”, Monday 22 November 2021, 9h00 – 12h45 CET, registration HERE.

Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies

ESPP, DPP and NNP are updating the Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources. Information is invited on technologies to be added. To be included, technologies should be operational or demonstrated at full-scale or pilot scale, and should recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and/or micro-nutrients. The catalogue provides practical data and information on: technology supplier(s) (website, contact), process input materials (sewage sludge, ash, manure, etc.), output products (nutrient content, organic carbon content and other properties), process description (in particular indicating fate of contaminants), current operating status (number and capacity of plants operating, capacity of pilots and duration of continuous operation) and photos of installations.

To include further technologies in the Catalogue: send information, as specified above and if possible in the format of (column titles) the Catalogue as currently online here to

ESPP - DPP - NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils

ESPP, with BOKU, are organising a webinar 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET, on relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P”, crop yield and P losses, see below. Abstracts are invited by 30th November 2021

Webinar website, call for abstracts, registration www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

 

Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

A new call for abstracts for presentations and posters is now open for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna 20-22 June 2022. Deadline 30th November 2021. Proposed presentations should address the conference parallel session themes (see updated programme here): policy tools and business models, climate change links to phosphorus management, new fertilisers for nutrient sustainability, P-recycling R&D and new technologies, regions in action for phosphorus sustainability. Posters can address any theme relating to phosphorus sustainability. Abstract submission instructions are on the conference website here.

ESPC4 – PERM5 website: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Call for information on P flows and resources for EU Critical Raw Material assessment

The EU-funded SCRREEN2 project has launched the re-assessment of materials on the EU’s Critical Raw Materials (CRM) list, and is looking for information on phosphorus resources, uses, flows, and LCAs.

The European Commission published the 4th version of the Critical Raw Materials List (CRM) in September 2020. The CRM list currently includes 30 materials, including both Phosphate Rock (in effect: phosphorus in any form: rock, fertiliser, chemicals, biological materials, etc.) and “Phosphorus” (in effect: P4 and derivatives).

The EU is now supporting the “SCRREEN2” project with 3 million € EU funding (following on from SCRREEN1, which also received 3 million € EU funding) led by the French atomic energy agency CEA, to develop information and an expert network to support the EU decision making process for critical raw materials.

SCRREEN will update the European Commission’s “Fact Sheets” (September 2020). In particular, a first EU experts’ workshop on 22nd October 2021 (ESPP participated) recognised the need to separate the Fact Sheets for “Phosphate Rock” (all forms of P) and “Phosphorus” (P4 and derivates), which are currently confused into one.

For “Phosphate Rock” (which in effect concerns all uses and flows of P in any form, mineral or organic/biological: mined phosphate rock, secondary P resources, animal feed and food, etc.), please provide information (data, publications or links to studies, reports, etc.) as follows:

  • Recent studies on potential secondary P resources in Europe (quantities, flows, etc..)
  • Recent papers or studies on P-rock resources, P supply geopolitics
  • Recent overviews or studies on P-uses, markets and trade, in Europe or worldwide (phosphate rock and P-acid, fertilisers, P in animal fodder and feeds, P in food, industrial uses, etc..)
  • LCAs of P-recovery, P-fertilisers, other P products or uses
  • comments on the 2020 Fact Sheets (“Phosphate Rock and Phosphorus”, pages 525-546).

For the second Critical Raw Material, P4 and derivates (CRM “Phosphorus”), ESPP has indicated to SCRREEN that full up-to-date information was developed in the joint workshop organised by ESPP and the European Commission on 9th July 2020 (with participation of nearly all concerned companies in Europe) presented in detail (after technical validation) in ESPP’s SCOPE Newsletter n°136 and then used in the EU JRC MSA (Material System Analysis) for P4 published in 2021 (http://dx.doi.org/10.2760/677981)

Please send your input to and we will input to the SCRREEN process, for which ESPP is a registered expert.

 

 

EU consultations and tenders

EU public consultations open

Air quality. Revision of EU rules. Open to 16th December 2021. Consultation.

Pharmaceuticals: Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation. Open to 21st December 2021. Consultation.

 

EU tender on fertilising products technical documentation

The European Commission has published a tender (low value contracts procedure) to develop a ‘Guidance Document’ for companies placing products on the market, to provide information on technical documentation for EU Fertilising Products. Deadline 12 November 2021 for submission of interest.

“Study in support of a guidance document for the elaboration of the technical documentation of EU fertilising products” https://ec.europa.eu/growth/low-value-contracts-procedures_en

 

 

Nutrient recycling

 

Recycled nutrients in Organic Farming

FiBL has published a “reflections” paper on the acceptability of recycled phosphorus fertilisers in European Organic Agriculture, providing possible criteria for which recycled nutrient products are likely to be accepted. The paper “provides only the personal opinion of the authors” but is coherent with discussions ongoing in the Organic Farming movement and via the EU-funded project RELACS (see ESPP eNews n°53). The paper takes as starting point Annex II of EU Regulation 2021/1165, that is the updated list of products and substances authorised in Organic Production in the EU (public consultation, April 2021, see  ESPP eNews n°53).

This paper addresses only recovered phosphorus products, but notes that other recycled plant nutrients (e.g. nitrogen) could be discussed in the future. ESPP also notes that Regulation 2021/1165 already authorises (subject to EU fertilisers regulation contaminant limits), be they recycled or otherwise, “Inorganic micronutrient fertilisers” (e.g. iron) and “Elemental sulphur”.

The FiBL paper notes that certain input materials are already considered acceptable in this Regulation: manure (but NOT manure from factory farming), food industry wastes, source separated household organic waste, bones. Sewage sludge is currently not listed, but the EU expert committee for Organic Farming (EGTOP) has given positive opinions on struvite and calcined phosphates (both) recovered from municipal sewage, and more widely on all products from municipal sewage if the production process ensures pathogen safety and minimises contaminants (all three in EGTOP Opinion of 2/2/2016).

A key point indicated by FiBL is that the EU Organic Farming regulation requires only “low solubility” mineral fertilisers, and the paper suggests that a criterion could be < 25% P water solubility.

Use of nitric acid in the recovery process is questioned, because the Organic Farming movement would regard this as “synthetic nitrogen”. The use of other synthetic reagents in recovery processes is considered acceptable, with preference to natural origin materials and with health and environmental impacts avoided.

The paper suggests that, for recycled fertilisers, the contaminant limits of the EU Fertilising Products Regulation should be considered as providing adequate environmental protection, but that products with low contaminant levels should be preferred, and lower contaminant levels could be fixed in the EU Organic Farming Regulation.

This document provides a valuable starting point to identify which recycled phosphorus products can be appropriately proposed for inclusion into the Organic Farming Regulation and to support such proposals. ESPP will now propose to our members, to wider stakeholders and to the Organic Farming movement (IFOAM, RELACS, FiBL) to define a short list of corresponding recycled P products and to develop dossiers for submission (via Member States) for consideration by the European Commission (DG AGRI) and by EGTOP.

“Reflections on the acceptability of recycled P fertilisers for European organic agriculture”, 29 September 2021, V. Leschenne, B. Speiser, FiBL https://www.betriebsmittelliste.ch/fileadmin/bml-ch/documents/stellungnahmen/Recycled_P_fertilisers_v2_Sept_2021.pdf

FiBL is the Swiss Organic Farming research institute.

EGTOP Opinion of 2/2/2016 on recovered struvite, calcined phosphates and products from municipal sewage https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/eu-policy/expert-advice/documents/final-reports/final-report-egtop-on-fertilizers-2_en.pdf

EU Organic Farming inputs list Regulation 2021/1126 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32021R1165&from=EN

 

Updated overview of phosphorus recovery and/or recycling facilities

Both the inventory list of operating full-scale P -recovery / -recycling installations worldwide (Christian Kabbe, P-REX Environment) and the ESPP – DPP - NNP catalogue of nutrient recycling technologies are updated online here.  The inventory list has been fully updated, and indicates some 120 installations operating worldwide, specifying the technology supplier, the location, operating since, the recovered phosphate material/product and the annual tonnage of product output. The technology catalogue is in the process of updating (see call for input above) and has been updated to already include information received.

Online here: https://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/activities/p-recovery-technology-inventory

Information for updates of the inventory and catalogue are welcome: to

 

 

Swiss update report on P-recovery technologies

The Swiss Federal Environment Office published in 2017 an overview report comparing 20 P-recovery technologies. A 2019 update compares 8 technologies adapted to the Swiss P-recovery obligation: ExtraPhos (Budenheim), EuPhoRe*, Pyrophos*, ZAB (Glatt Phos4Green)*, CleanMAP (EasyMining)*, EcoPhos (now Prayon), Phos4Life (ZAR – Técnicas Reunidas), Tetraphos (Remondis) [* = not covered in the 2017 report, summarised in ESPP eNews n°12]. The eight technologies are assessed on the basis of 13 criteria, in three thematic groups: Closing the Loop (input flexibility, degree of recovery), Environment (chemical use, energy, waste), Product (P content, plant availability, pollutant content, product yield). A third update of the report is currently under preparation and is expected to be published in 2022.

“Technologien zur Phosphor-Rückgewinnung. Bewertung von Technologien für die Schweiz bezogen auf den Entwicklungsstand”, EBP for BAFU (Swiss Federal Office for the Environment), April 2019, in German LINK.

The Swiss Government has also published (2020) a document on implementation of the national P-recovery regulation, see ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°141.

 

 

LCA and greenhouse gas benefits of recycled nitrogen

Energy use and greenhouse emissions were compared using several LCA methods, calculated according to field trial crop yields, and modelled field N losses. The recycled N fertilisers tested were digestate from anaerobic digestion of wastes, meat and bone meal (combined with oat hulls, chicken manure and vinasse) and ammonium sulphate from nylon product. For the mineral fertiliser, data for calcium ammonium nitrate from Ecoinvent was used. The authors note that results vary considerably depending on whether recycled raw materials are allocated as “waste” or “by-product” (i.e. with economic value allocation). LCAs using both ISO 14040:2006 and European Commission Environmental Footprint project methods were calculated. Field trials were carried out using the three recycled N fertilisers, mineral fertiliser and no fertiliser (control), using spring sown oats near Helsinki, Finland. Yields with the recycled fertilisers were not statistically significantly different from yields with the mineral fertiliser (whereas control yield was significantly lower than all fertiliser treatments), but nonetheless the somewhat lower average yields with the recycled fertilisers were used in the LCA calculation (-7% to -15%). Atmospheric and leaching N emissions from fields were estimated based on N inputs, crop yield and coefficients for organic (digestate, meal and bone meal) or mineral (mineral fertiliser, ammonium sulphate) N fertilisers. Energy use and GHG emissions were lower for the recycled N fertilisers than for mineral fertilisers, whatever the calculation method, with differences between the recycled N fertilisers varying depending on the calculation method.

“Carbon footprint and energy use of recycled fertilizers in arable Farming”, V. Kyttä et al., J. Cleaner Production, Volume 287, 10 March 2021, 125063 DOI.

 

 

Pathogens in struvite from poultry manure digestate

Struvite precipitated in batch lab tests from poultry slurry digestate (mesophilic, 37°C) showed significant levels of foodborne pathogens, depending on precipitation pH and post-treatment: E. coli, Streptococcus, Clostridium. The batch struvite precipitation tests involved 40 minutes reaction time and 30 minutes settling, at pH 9, 10 or 11. The struvite was settled and recovered by filtration, but not washed. Pathogen levels in the struvite were significant, but lower with increasing pH. E. coli was 10-40% higher than the EU STRUBIAS criteria limit (for precipitated phosphates) of 1 000 CFU/g when struvite was precipitated at pH9, but lower at pH 10 or 11. Pathogen inactivation technologies were tested on the recovered struvite: drying (35 – 55 °C), high humidity hot air impingement blanching (HHAIB, 110 – 130 °C), cold plasma (30 – 60 seconds). These technologies significantly reduced pathogens to “very low” levels, lower than natural soil levels. They did not modify the struvite crystal structure, but they did reduce metal-oxygen functional group abundance, and treatments > 55°C would lead to ammonia loss. This study confirms the need for further investigation of pathogens in recovered struvites and approaches to reduce these, including in continuous precipitation installations (rather than batch tests), as well as testing of washing and low temperature drying – storage for pathogen reduction. ESPP notes that the anaerobic digestion, depending on operating temperature and conditions, can also ensure sanitary safety of the digestate, upstream of the struvite recovery.

“Quantitative characterization and effective inactivation of biological hazards in struvite recovered from digested poultry slurry”, A. Muhmood et al., Water Research 204 (2021) 117659 DOI.

 

Fertilisers from spent fire extinguisher power

End-of-life powder from ABC fire extinguishers, containing MAP* and ammonium sulphate was combined with compost (of municipal solid organic waste) and fibres to produce pellets. Fire extinguishers must be emptied and the powder renewed every three years. The spent powder is very fine (90% of particles < 0.25 mm, 40% < 0.04 mm) so posing risks of inhalation and accidental pollution. The powder contains 40-50% MAP* and additives for flow / anti-caking, colour or water repellence (in particular, silicones). After removal of these additives (using specific technology under patenting), the spent extinguisher powder was combined with dried compost and fibres (wood chips or Jatropha seed cake), in five different combinations, each with 10% spent extinguisher powder, in a rotary 6 mm die pressing machine (using no heat or additives, only mechanical pressure). Lignin in the wood chips showed to be an effective binder and pellets showed mechanical resistance (necessary for handling) and water uptake (necessary to render nutrients plant available) compatible with agricultural use. Further work is needed to assess the fertiliser value (especially crop nutrient availability) of the pellets, to test their handling and resistance in agricultural equipment (verify no dusting) and to ensure no risk of dust release to the environment or inhalation during spent extinguisher powder preparation, handling and pelletising.

* MAP = mono ammonium phosphate

Work carried out as part of the “FIRECOMPOST” project, funded by the Calabria Region POR FESR-FSE 2014-2020

“Pelletization of Compost from Different Mixtures with the Addition of Exhausted Extinguishing Powders”, S. Papandrea et al., Agronomy 2021, 11, 1357, DOI.

 

 

P-fertiliser and lithium recovery from batteries

Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries represent over 1/3 of the world market for lithium ion batteries. A process to recover lithium and a phosphate fertiliser is presented. Currently LFP batteries are difficult to recycle: regeneration leads to battery quality deterioration and strong acid dissolution results in large quantities of wastewater and loss of the phosphorus. In this lab study, the batteries were shredded, then the cathode material separated (from aluminium foils) by ultrasound in 0.4 mol NaOH. The extracted cathode material is then reacted with Na2S2O8 to recover lithium sulphate solution (for lithium recovery). The remaining material is then reacted with Na2S resulting in a phosphate solution (HPO4 / H2PO4), which is then reacted with urea, N,N’-methylenebisacrylamide, acrylic acid and potassium persulphate, then dried. This results in an N-P-K slow-release fertiliser material, containing approx. 18%N, 6.5%P, and some K. Recovery of both lithium and phosphorus > 99% could be achieved. This recovered fertiliser material was tested in pot trials with maize, showing significantly increased growth compared to control (no comparison was made to commercial fertiliser). Tested heavy metals (Cd, As, Pb, Cr, Hg) were below detection limit in the recovered N-P-K fertiliser, as were iron and sulphur. Residues from the process were mainly NaFeS2 (used as a catalyst for degradation of methylene blue and indigo carmine) and Na2SO4 (a commodity chemical). The authors conclude that the process would offer significantly better profitability than recovery of lithium only (lithium is <2% of LFP battery weight, whereas phosphorus (as P) is c. 17%).

“Recycling phosphorus from spent LiFePO4 battery for multifunctional slow-release fertilizer preparation and simultaneous recovery of Lithium”, H-H. Yue et al., Chemical Engineering Journal 426 (2021) 131311, DOI.

 

 

Sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) shows limited P fertiliser efficiency

Pot trials of twelve SSIAs show P effectiveness 5% - 46% compared to mineral P fertiliser TSP (comparable to 24% for phosphate rock). NAC P-solubility only explained around 50% of variation in effectiveness. Random forest analysis of the three parameters oxalate extractable aluminium, phosphorus and iron was the best indicator of P-fertiliser effectiveness, predicting c. 80% of variability. The greenhouse pot trials used rye grass grown for twelve weeks, in two soils (clay and sandy loam), pH 6 – 7. The SSIAs came from 11 municipal sewage sludge mono-incinerators in Canada and the USA, and one agri-food processing plant incinerator, with several different types of incinerator, operating at different temperatures (8 out of 12 at lower temperatures than the EU IED requirement of 850°C). Ten of the eleven municipal plants used iron and/or aluminium coagulants. Data for P, Fe, Al and other minerals in the twelve ashes are provided, as are data for inorganic contaminants. The authors conclude that levels of heavy metals in the SSIAs “do not appear to be of concern for agricultural use”, whereas six of the eleven municipal sewage SSIAs show copper levels higher than the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/1009 limit of 600 mgCu/kg limit for mineral fertilisers, two show zinc levels higher than the FPR limit (1500 mgZn/kg) and three show lead levels higher than the FPR limit (120 mgPb/kg).

“Assessing and predicting phosphorus phytoavailability from sludge incineration ashes”, C-A. Joseph et al., Chemosphere 288 (2022) 132498 DOI and “Influence of Sludge Incineration Ash on Ryegrass Growth and Soil Phosphorus Status”, C-A. Joseph et al., Pedosphere 29(1): 70–81, 2019 DOI. These publications present the same study. The study was part funded by the participating incinerators.

 

 

 

Potential for P-recovery from meat processing

Data from a meat processing company and lab tests suggest that c. 13 ktP/y could be recovered from meat processing in Poland, by calcining, to high quality hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate, human food or animal feed grade). ESPP notes that currently this recovered phosphate cannot be used in Europe because the European Commission DG SANTE and EFSA have not yet defined an Animal By Products Regulation ‘End Point’. The experimental work tested calcining (at 600°C – 950°C) of bone sludge and of bone waste (from pigs and cattle). Bone sludge is produced by hydrolysis of bones, to remove proteins, and showed 12 – 16% P-content and 12 – 20% organics. After calcining, hydroxyapatite (mainly Ca5(PO4)3OH) was produced with c. 17% P, low levels of silicon and iron, aluminium, cadmium and manganese considerably lower than in phosphate rock. The authors estimate that waste from slaughterhouses and meat processing in Poland is around 230 000 t/y, that is c. 24% of the meat processed, and that some 70 000 t/y of hydroxyapatite could be recovered, worth c. 10 million €/y based on the price of phosphate rock.

“Quantification of material recovery from meat waste incineration – An approach to an updated food waste hierarchy”, Z. Kowalski et al., J. Hazardous Materials 416 (2021) 126021 DOI.

 

 

Impacts of ferric on anaerobic digestion

Lab tests of five forms of ferric phosphate in sewage sludge fermentation suggest that amorphous iron(III) phosphate reduced to vivianite, releasing soluble P. Most forms inhibited VFA production, and so potentially methane production. Five forms of iron(III) phosphate which can be found in sewage sludge after use of ferric salts for P-removal were tested: anhydrous ferric-phosphate (FePO4), ferric-phosphate dihydrate (FePO4⋅2H2O), ferric-phosphate trihydrate (FePO4⋅3H2O), ferric-phosphate tetrahydrate (FePO4⋅4H2O), Giniite (Fe5(PO4)4(OH)3⋅2H2O). The ferric phosphates were added to WAS sludge from a laboratory anaerobic-anoxic-oxic (AAO) reactor at 2.6 mmol Fe/g VSS in 600 ml bottles, air was removed, then the bottles were closed and fermented in a shaker at 35°C for 7 days. All the ferric [i.e. Fe(III)] phosphates except Giniite (that is, all the FePO4.nH2O ferric phosphates, n=0-4) released soluble P during fermentation, due to reduction to Fe(II) phosphate, with the reduction rate of hexagonal FePO4 being highest. All the Fe(III) phosphates had negative impacts on fermentation of sludge, reducing specific hydrolysis rate constant and volatile fatty acid yield (VFA) by around -40% for amorphous ferric-phosphate trihydrate (this confirms results from Kim and Chung 2015). ESPP comment: overall this study suggests that further work is needed on how iron dosing may impact anaerobic digestion, depending on different forms of iron phosphate present, but it is not clear how sewage works or digester operators can influence the forms of iron phosphate.

“Effects of ferric-phosphate forms on phosphorus release and the performance of anaerobic fermentation of waste activated sludge”, Z. Zhang et al., Bioresource Technology 323 (2021) 124622 DOI.

 

 

Eutrophication and nutrient losses

 

Wisconsin’s nutrient pollution trading system

Analysis of the three market-like phosphorus credit programmes, providing opportunities for reduced P discharge compliance costs for funding of reduction of diffuse (agricultural) P losses, in the State of Wisconsin (USA).  84% of US phosphorus pollution is from diffuse “non-point” sources (mainly agriculture). Point sources are highly regulated through water quality permits whereas policy on non-point sources is incentive or voluntary. The US EPA formalised its policy for guidance water quality trading in 2003. Wisconsin enacted restrictive numeric water quality standards for P in 2010 (ambient P of 0.015 - 0.1 mg/L), and shortly after launched three P credit programmes. The three components of Wisconsin’s Water Quality Trading Programme for phosphorus (1) enables permitted point sources to purchase discharge credits from other point sources or from (non-regulated) non-point sources, (2) allows all nutrient sources in a watershed to coordinate efforts to meet the water body P standard (“Adaptive Management”), and (3) allows small point sources to purchase credits by paying a fixed price in to a fund for agricultural pollution control (“Multi-Discharger Variance”). This has resulted in a significant number of P credit trading transactions. As of mid 2021, more than 140 point sources have participated in these market-like options. Analysis shows that decisions are influenced by stringent water body P standards and credit trades and coordination are more likely in larger municipalities, who show more institutional preparedness for such engagement. The authors conclude that nutrient credit markets move slowly and that the urban – rural stakeholder relationship is critical to uptake.

“Key Elements of Nutrient Credit Markets: An Empirical Investigation of Wisconsin’s Market-like Phosphorus Control Policy”, Z. Wu thesis University of Wisconsin-Madison 2021 LINK.

 

 

Climate change, eutrophication and algal toxins

This book reviews science on links between climate change and marine and freshwater toxins. These are released mainly from “blue-green algae” (cyanobacteria) and which can impact humans e.g. by accumulation in shellfish or fish. Previously unreported toxin events are now occurring including in Europe tetrodotoxin intoxications from shellfish and ostreocin in aerosols on Mediterranean beaches. There are some 2 000 cyanobacteria species identified worldwide, of which 50 are today known to produce natural toxins. Climate change is expected to benefit bloom-forming cyanobacteria, increasing growth rates, with more severe and longer blooms and shifts in geographical distribution, but the impact of climate change on toxin production is likely to be variable (Kelly et al., ch. 5). Climate change impacts (analysed in detail in Reichwaldt et al., ch. 6) include higher temperatures, leading to warmer water (faster algal growth), stratification and evaporation (so increasing nutrient concentrations), increased occurrence of high rainfall events (accentuating nutrient losses to waters, especially after droughts), The authors identify as emerging toxins related to climate change, in particular in the Mediterranean: tetrodotoxin, palytoxin, cyclic imines (gymondimine, spirolides, pinnatoxins), ciguatoxins, brevetoxin. Toxins can impact global food supply, by food safety of fisheries and aquaculture (Carmen Louzao et al., ch. 14): amnesic shellfish poisoning (the toxin domoic acid produced by Pseudo-nitzschia is accumulated in shellfish), ciguatera fish poisoning (Gambierdiscus produce ciguatoxins, which accumulate or are metabolised to other toxins in fish), diarrheic shellfish poisoning (dinophysistoxins produced by Dinopysis), neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (brevotoxins from Karenia brevis), palytoxin poisoning (from Ostreopsis), paralytic shellfish poisoning (often from Alexandriuim), yessotoxin shellfish poisoning, etc. National and international regulations and safety limits for different toxins are listed as well as detection methods (Vilariño et al., ch. 15), underlining the current limitations to detecting and determining toxins, the challenges of adapting to emerging toxins and the need for updated monitoring programmes.

“Climate change and marine and freshwater toxins”, L. Botana, M. Carmen Louzao and N. Vilariño editors, 668 pages, 2021 ISBN 978-3-11-062292-8

 

Stay informed

SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
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Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 3 2021

 

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Please subscribe www.phosphorusplatform.eu/Subscribe 
Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews059
Download as PDF

Events and calls for input
ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022
Phosphates 2022
PhD / Masters school on wastewater circular economy
Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils
Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

EU consultations

EU public consultations open
ESPP input made on EU “Taxonomy” criteria
ESPP input on End-of-Waste

“Legacy Phosphorus”
SPA webinar on “Legacy Phosphorus”
Review paper on “Legacy Phosphorus”
“Legacy Phosphorus”, crop productivity and P-losses

Policy
Urgent need for conformity assessment bodies for fertilising products
Post-processed digestates and composts excluded from EU fertilising products
UK requires “nutrient neutrality” for developments near protected habitats
Erratum: EU Member States derogatory cadmium limits
EU partly lifts ban on feeding processed animal protein (PAP) to animals

Nutrient recycling
N2 Applied on the world’s radio
Glatt & Seraplant commission 30 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant
Técnicas Reunidas announces contract for 40 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant
25 million US$ for P sustainability research centre: STEPS

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

Events and calls for input

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, with 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources, currently being updated (see below).

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

Updated outline programmes of ESPC4 and PERM5, and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

Phosphates 2022

7 – 9 March 2022, Tampa, Florida. This is “the” phosphate industry professional conference, with over 400 participants. Phosphates 2022 will be in-person (with an online option), and a major chance to re-connect with the phosphate industry, from mining through rock and acid processing, to fertilisers, feed phosphates and technical phosphates. The two-day conference will have a dual agenda: commercial - market – regulatory, and technical and industry operational.

CRU Phosphates 2022:
https://events.crugroup.com/phosphates/home

 

PhD / Masters school on wastewater circular economy

22-26 November 2021, Cracow, Poland. The MonGOS Winter School enables 25 young researchers (Masters, PhD) to explore wastewater resource, water and energy recovery and circular economy indicators and practices. The School will be led by experts from the MonGOS project partner institutes in Belgium, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and will be based on targeted teaching and workshops, group projects and case studies.

Applications are open to 17th October 2021. In English. Free. MonGOS Winter School 2021 : https://mon-gos.eu/winter-school-2021/  

 

 

Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies

ESPP, DPP and NNP are updating the Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources. Information is invited on technologies to be added. To be included, technologies should be operational or demonstrated at full-scale or pilot scale, and should recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and/or micro-nutrients. The catalogue provides practical data and information on: technology supplier(s) (website, contact), process input materials (sewage sludge, ash, manure, etc.), output products (nutrient content, organic carbon content and other properties), process description (in particular indicating fate of contaminants), current operating status (number and capacity of plants operating, capacity of pilots and duration of continuous operation) and photos of installations.

To include further technologies in the Catalogue: send information, as specified above and if possible in the format of (column titles) the Catalogue as currently online here to

ESPP - DPP - NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Call for abstracts: “Legacy Phosphorus” in agricultural soils

ESPP, with BOKU, are organising a webinar 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET, on relationships between draw-down of “Legacy P”, crop yield and P losses, see below. Abstracts are invited by 30th November 2021

Webinar website, call for abstracts, registration www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

 

Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

A new call for abstracts for presentations and posters is now open for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna 20-22 June 2022. Deadline 30th November 2021. Proposed presentations should address the conference parallel session themes (see updated programme here): Policy tools and business models, Climate change links to phosphorus management, New fertilisers for nutrient sustainability, P-recycling R&D and new technologies, Regions in action for phosphorus sustainability. Posters can address any theme relating to phosphorus sustainability. Abstract submission instructions are on the conference website here.

ESPC4 – PERM5 website: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

EU consultations

EU public consultations open

Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). “Protecting the marine environment – review of EU rules”. Open to 21st October 2021. See details in ESPP eNews n°58. Consultation.

Water pollutants. “Integrated water management – revised lists of surface and groundwater pollutants”. Open to 1st November 2021. See details in ESPP eNews n°58Consultation.

Air quality. Revision of EU rules. Open to 16th December 2021. Consultation.

Pharmaceuticals: Revision of the EU general pharmaceuticals legislation. Open to 21st December 2021. Consultation.

 

ESPP input made on EU “Taxonomy” criteria

These criteria will define which economic activities under what conditions, will be eligible for EU Green Deal investment funding and other eco-incentives. Phosphorus recovery from sewage is listed as one of the 100 activities.

ESPP input suggested that the item P-recovery from sewage treatment should be widened to cover P-recovery from other waste streams, and also to cover recovery of other nutrients, in particular N-recovery. ESPP suggested that the two items on agriculture (livestock, crops) should include Phosphorus Use Efficiency in criteria, in addition to Nitrogen Use Efficiency as proposed. ESPP also input on tourism (include environmental impact of restaurant menus), food industry (promote nutrient circularity, water treatment, bio-waste and solid waste).

Consultation closed 28th September 2021, documents online here    See ESPP eNews n°58 and ESPP input here

 

ESPP input on End-of-Waste

ESPP and Eureau, with participation from stakeholders, have input to the EU JRC consultation on selecting priority materials for definition of EU End-of-Waste Criteria, suggesting different recovered materials from wastewaters.

The process for obtaining EU End-of-Waste status for use in fertilisers is ensured by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009. ESPP and Eureau made input concerning non-fertiliser applications of the following materials: minerals recovered from ashes (e.g. recovery of phosphoric acid from sewage sludge incineration ash), minerals recovered from wastewater (e.g. recovered struvite or vivianite as a flame retardant, recovery of iron or aluminium compounds for use as coagulants, etc.), recovery of nitrogen salts for use as a commodity chemical, algae grown in wastewater, bioplastics (PHA, PLA), cellulose (crude, fluff, pellets), “Kaumera” biopolymer.

Consultation closed 10th October 2021, documents online here    See ESPP eNews n°57 and ESPP input here

 

“Legacy Phosphorus”

SPA webinar on “Legacy Phosphorus”

80 participants listened to the three speakers on phosphorus accumulation in agricultural soils, soil P chemistry and actions to reduce P runoff. Online questions focussed on whether soil P could be reduced without losing crop yield.

The webinar was introduced by Matt Scholz, US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA) who pointed to a global “legacy P problem”, where phosphorus from past applications of fertilisers and manure overwhelms soil P storage capacity and leaks into surface waters. He referred to Wironen 2018 (see SCOPE Newsletter n°128) who showed how Vermont continues to accumulate > 5 kgP/ha/y in soil, despite improvements in phosphorus use efficiency, and despite significant reconversion of agricultural land back to woodland, because of increasing and increasingly concentrated dairy livestock production.

GoyetteJean-Olivier Goyette, University Laval, cited a number of studies indicating that P accumulated in watersheds (soils and water sediments) from past activities can represent a significant part of current P loads to surface waters (McCracklin 2018 DOI: 50% to the Baltic, Meng 2021 DOI: 50- 80% for China upland rivers), and that a drawdown of this legacy P pool could take decades to centuries (McDowell 2020 DOI, Goyette 2018 DOI, Carpenter 2005 DOI). He suggested that this accumulation of P is related to the low phosphorus efficiency (PUE) of food production, which has fallen from 35% around 1900 to 6% today, largely because livestock production and fertiliser use (crop PUE: 30%, conversion vegetal-animal 10%; see Liu 2016 DOI, Suh 2011 DOI). He underlined that studies have shown that once soil reaches around 20% “P saturation” (saturation of mineral binding ions such as Fe, Al, Ca) losses to surface waters begin to occur, that is a “breakpoint” (Nair 2014 DOI). At the watershed scale, this can occur after accumulation of just 21 kgP/ha (Goyette 2018 DOI). It remains to be clarified however how this P-loss “breakpoint” relates to agronomically recommended soil P levels and to crop yields.

HesterbergDean Hesterberg, Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS/CNPEM), discussed soil phosphorus chemistry and the complexity of relations between “labile” phosphorus (i.e., which can be released from mineral binding sites in soil) and plant-available phosphorus. Roots only directly take up the orthophosphate in soil pore water, which is typically less than 0.1% of average total phosphorus in the top 20 cm of soil, i.e., >99.9% resides in the soil solids. Plants have mechanisms to mobilize solid-phase soil P, although a significant portion of inorganic P tends to become less plant available over time by mechanisms that are not fully understood. Also, (micro)biological mechanisms convert organic forms of phosphorus into more plant-available forms. Complexity results from the very wide variability in soil properties and soil biology, including between different soil depths in the same soil, variation with climate, and different plant species’ ability to access phosphorus.

ScottIsis S. P. C. Scott, University of Maryland/Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory (USDA-ARS) outlined different techniques to reduce P losses to water bodies: prevention of legacy-P sources = balanced nutrient application and animal diet, manure export; containment = tillage practices aimed at reducing particle detachment, soil amendments, buffer zones and wetlands; and remediation, namely soil P drawdown by crops and phosphorus removal structures, also known as P traps. These remediation practices work across different temporal scales: Draw-down is a long-term remediation strategy, while P traps are an immediate practice targeting dissolved P in runoff, drainage, or wastewater. Phosphorus traps are systems containing PSMs (phosphorus sorption materials) installed in both urban or rural hotspots, promoting P removal before discharge into rivers or lakes. For information on how to design P removal structures, see the USDA P-trap app. See also SCOPE Newsletter n°138.

Discussion in the webinar chat asked what is the definition of “Legacy phosphorus”. Does the term refer to any levels of soil P higher than natural or background levels? Or does it mean soil P levels higher than agronomic recommended indexes defined to enable optimum crop productivity? This was also reflected in the question: to what extent can “Legacy P” be drawn down without significantly reducing crop yield?.

US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA) webinar “A Legacy of Phosphorus”, 30th September 2021.

Watch the webinar on SPA’s YouTube channel

A follow-up webinar addressing the question of links between “Legacy P”, crop productivity and P losses to watersheds will is organised by ESPP 2nd February 2022, 13h – 17h CET. If you wish to present at this webinar, contact

 

Review paper on “Legacy Phosphorus”

Accumulation of P in soils in the US is considered to mainly result from mineral fertiliser application, not manure, and to result in increases in mineral forms of P in soils, not organic P. The abstract states that accumulation of “Legacy P” in soils can increase nutrient runoff leading to eutrophication, but with little supporting evidence (only one study cited, not apparently relevant). The review itself suggests that inorganic P applied to soil is absorbed or reacted with a wide range of minerals in soil, and the bio-availability of this mineral phosphorus pool depends mainly on soil pH. P in organic forms in soils is mainly as monoesters or diesters. Some field studies suggest that annual application of manure (e.g. 30 kgP/ha/y) did not lead to an accumulation of soil organic P. Also, native organic P forms in soils appear to be relatively stable, and may not be reduced even after fertiliser application is stopped. Plants can access non-soluble soil phosphorus by extending root structure, or by releasing acids or enzymes from roots. Tests suggest that changes in root architecture and release of enzymes are more effective than release of organic acids (this despite the importance of soil pH indicated above). The paper does not explore to what extent ‘mining’ of soil P by plants by such mechanisms could impact crop productivity.

“Review. Accessing Legacy Phosphorus in Soils”, S. Doydora et al., Soil Syst. 2020, 4, 74; LINK.

 

 

“Legacy Phosphorus”, crop productivity and P-losses

ESPP will host a webinar to discuss how “Legacy P”, and proposals to “draw down Legacy P”, are related to agronomic recommended soil P indexes and crop yield, and to P losses to watershed: 2nd Feb. 2022, 13h – 17h CET.

With Achim Doberman, Chief Scientist, International Fertilisers Association (IFA); Jim Elser, University of Montana, USA; Phil Haygarth, University of Lancaster, UK; Andrew Sharpley, University of Arkansas, USA.

This ESPP webinar will follow on from the SPA (US) webinar “A Legacy of Phosphorus”, 30th September 2021 (see above) and from the Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’ summarised in ESPP eNews n°56

A SCOPE Newsletter special issue will summarise this ESPP webinar and the SPA webinar, and will also include selected abstracts submitted to the ESPP webinar as well as a selection of c. 20 relevant recent scientific publications.

Call for presentations and posters, open to 30th November 2021 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/LegacyP

Organised with BOKU Austria. Preference for results from field, pot or lysimeter studies (i.e., “real data”), but interesting modelling studies will also be considered. Selected submissions not accepted for presentations will be made available to participants and then published in the SCOPE Newsletter Special Issue.

 

Policy

 

Urgent need for conformity assessment bodies for fertilising products

Industry concerned that the lack of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CAB) may prevent products from obtaining access to the market under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR).

The new FPR (EU) 2019/1009 (FPR) is set to apply from 16 July 2022 and requires third party certification for many products covered by this regulation. Accreditation of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) is required so that fertilising and plant biostimulant products are able to gain access to the EU Single Market. So far, very few CABs have applied for accreditation across EU member states to date. We are concerned that the lack of CABs will prevent products covered by the FPR from accessing the Single Market, which will be detrimental to industries and farmers alike.

In this context, EBIC, ECOFI, Fertilizers Europe and IVA are urging all concerned parties to reach out to organisations qualified and eligible to act as Conformity Assessment Bodies immediately and encourage them to apply without further delay for notification. To demonstrate the potential demand for CABs, these four associations reached out to their members to make a preliminary, joint estimate of how many products are expected to be submitted for certification under the FPR in the next two years. The data was collected by a third party in full compliance with competition rules and the resulting aggregated figures were made available to the European Commission. To gain access to the data and for further information, please contact .

The European Commission is organising a virtual info session for certification companies interested in becoming conformity assessment bodies/notified bodies entitled "Conformity assessment of EU fertilising products: WHY and HOW to become a notified body?". Interested parties can register for this on-line event by sending an e-mail to DG GROW.

Article provided by ECOFI, with thanks: www.ecofi.info

For further information, please contact

 

 

Post-processed digestates and composts excluded from EU fertilising products

The European Commission has replied to ESPP that post-processing of digestates and composts (e.g. solid-liquid separation, stabilisation, etc.) is not at present covered by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) CMC criteria.

ESPP raised this question to DG GROW some time ago, because such post-processing will often be implemented to condition and prepare products to place on the European market, especially digestates. The Commission’s reply also confirms that processing additives used downstream of the anaerobic digester / composter are not considered as “composting/digestion additives” (as cited in CMCs3 and 5), e.g. polymers for solid-liquid separation, pH adjusters, granulation aids etc. It is in ESPP’s view preferable to resolve such questions now, rather than have them being brought up during a control of a product already on the market after implementation of the FPR from June 2022.

The Commission has indicated to ESPP that amendment of CMCs 3-5 (Annex II of the FPR) could be considered to include (certain) post-processing routes, and that this will be discussed in the next EU Fertilisers Expert Group (of which ESPP is a member) in November 2021.

ESPP will work with relevant federations and operators, to prepare a list of process routes and of additives used for post-processing of composts and digestates, and collate information for each one on how widespread is application and market relevance, product benefits, additives used, extent to which compost/digestate is or is not chemically modified by the process, etc.

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/2009

 

UK requires “nutrient neutrality” for developments near protected habitats

The UK is now requiring “no increase in nutrient emissions” for housing projects impacting Natura 2000 protected areas, to respect the European Court of Justice “Dutch case” ruling.

The Government body Natural England has issued detailed Guidance (60 pages) on how to calculate net nutrient emissions for new developments, for local planning authorities. The Guidance specifically targets the Solent and the Stour catchment, upstream of the Stodmarsh designated wetland sites, Kent, but is being seen as applicable in principle to the catchments of other Natura protected areas. The overall validity of this Guidance has been upheld by the UK High Court, 28th May 2021, in a judgement concerning two housing applications under Fareham Borough Council. The UK requirement for “nutrient neutrality” for protected habitat areas follows the European Court of Justice decision of 7 November 2018 (C-293/17 and C-294/17) stating that “grazing of cattle or application of fertiliser” in the vicinity of a Natura 2000 site may be classified as a “project” (under Directive 2011/92) so requiring demonstration “that there is no reasonable scientific doubt as to the lack of adverse effects” on the Natura site (see ESPP eNews n°35).

The Natural England Guidance defines how to calculate “nutrient neutrality” for housing development, change of agricultural land use, etc. For new housing, is assumed that all residents will be new residents, coming from outside the catchment, so generating additional wastewater: additional nutrient input to the catchment is calculated by multiplying the estimated number of residents in the housing x average water use per person x total P and total N discharge per litre (estimated as 100% of the waste water treatment plant consent limit TN/l and 90% of the consent limit TP/l). Nutrient loss from changes in agricultural land use is estimated from data for average farm N and P loss (kg/ha) compared to average losses from e.g. green space. The numbers used are specific to the local catchment. To achieve “nutrient neutrality”, mitigation actions must be planned to compensate for nutrient loss increases, such as interceptor wetlands, planting of woodland, upgrading of sewage works.

Natural England, July 2020 “Advice on Nutrient Neutrality for New Development in the Stour Catchment in Relation to Stodmarsh Designated Sites - For Local Planning Authorities. July 2020” LINK.

 

Erratum: EU Member States derogatory cadmium limits

The article in ESPP eNews n°57 specifying derogations accorded to certain Member States for fertiliser cadmium limits lower than the EU Fertilising Products Regulation limit of 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 (which will apply to EU fertilisers from July 2022) contained two errors:

  • The limit in Finland is 22 mgCd/kgP2O5 (not 50 as indicated because the Finland regulation is 50 mgCd per kg P not P2O5)
  • The Swedish request to apply a national limit of 20 mgCd/kgP2O5 in 2012 was rejected by the European Commission decision 2012/D0719 because the Commission considered that Sweden “has not provided new scientific evidence relating to the protection of the environment or working environment demonstrating that there is a specific problem within its territory […] which makes it necessary to introduce the notified national measures.” The national limit of (equivalent) 44 mgCd/kgP2O5 (COM decision 2002/399) therefore remains in force today in Sweden.

The corrected list of Member States with derogations for national fertiliser cadmium limits lower than 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 is therefore as follows:

-  Denmark (COM decision 2020/1178) = equivalent to 48 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Finland (COM decision 2006/D0348) = 22 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Hungary (COM decision 2020/1184) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Slovak Republic (COM decision 2020/1205) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5

-  Sweden (COM decision 2002/399) equivalent to 44 mgCd/kgP2O5

EU partly lifts ban on feeding processed animal protein (PAP) to animals

It is now legal to feed processed animal protein (PAP) to non-ruminants (pigs, poultry), but the ban on feeding PAP of one species to the same species remains in place (intra-species). The PAP feed ban was put in place in 1994, in response to the ‘mad cow disease’ (bovine spongiform encephalopathy - BSE), which is thought to have been spread by the practice of supplementing feed for cattle with meat-and-bone meal which was not sufficiently sterilised to inactivate prions (the novel agent which causes BSE and is not a pathogen but a badly-folded brain protein, capable of causing other brain proteins to refold). Millions of cattle were culled because of BSE, and nearly 200 people died of the version transmissible to humans (a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), whereas it was initially feared that thousands or millions of people could be at risk. The European Commission justifies the decision to partially lift the PAP feed ban by the fact that other countries worldwide do not apply this, so that imported meat is unfairly advantaged compared to EU producers, and that 24 of the 26 EU Member States today have “negligible” BSE status (the UK’s last case of BSE was in 2016). The Commission states that the current ban causes some 100 000 tonnes/year of processed animal protein to be disposed as waste. The EU farmers’ federation COPA-COGECA states that PAP is an important source of phosphorus and highly digestible protein. The partial lift of the ban is expected to benefit insect protein. The published regulation runs to 17 pages of small print detailing production, use and transport conditions for PAP.

“EU lifts ban on feeding livestock processed animal protein (PAP)”, 1st September 2021

EU Regulation 2021/1372 “amending Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the prohibition to feed non-ruminant farmed animals, other than fur animals, with protein derived from animals”

 

Nutrient recycling

 

N2 Applied on the world’s radio

“Firing a bolt of plasma at slurry to break up toxic ammonia and climate-heating methane”. The BBC has featured (2 items) ESPP member N2 Applied’s innovative process to reduce manure emissions and improve nitrogen recycling. The report by BBC environmental analyst Roger Harrabin features an N2 installation at a dairy farm in Buckinghamshire UK, includes sniffing manure ‘before plasma’ “typically pungent” and ‘after plasma’ “uplifting smell of the seaside”. The N2 Applied process prevents ammonia and climate emissions from the manure, instead converting N into stable forms which are valuable fertiliser. N2 Applied has recently received 15 million € EU investment funds for roll out of its process.

“Artificial lightning zaps farm stink”, BBC 8th October 2021 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58795272

BBC News, 7th October 2021, N2 Applied @ c. 42 mins.

BBC World Service News, 7th October 2021, N2 Applied @ c. 19 mins.

Video clip of the N2 Applied installation at Holly Green farm (Arla Innovation Farm) in UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P76DMaldbuk

“N2 Applied gets $17m to turn livestock slurry into sustainable fertilizer”, 14th October 2021.

 

Glatt & Seraplant commission 30 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant

The PHOS4Green process reacts phosphoric acid with sewage sludge incineration ash to render the P in ash more plant available, combines with other nutrients, then produces granulated fertilisers, with part-recycled P content. The 20 million € plant commissioned at Haldesleben (between Hannover and Berlin, Saxonly-Anhalt) will take 30 000 t/y ash as input and produce 60 000 t/y fertiliser. Heavy metals, iron, aluminium, silica and other minerals present in the sewage sludge remain in the final product. The process generates no waste streams. the final product is compliant with the German fertiliser ordinance (DüMV)

“Produktion in erster deutscher PHOS4green-Anlage für Recyclingdünger ist gestartet”, 8th June 2021

Details of PHOS4Green process: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

Técnicas Reunidas announces contract for 40 000 t(ash)/y P-recycling plant

Following demonstration pilot trials, the Técnicas Reunidas Phos4Life technology has been selected by ZAR, Switzerland, to recover and recycle P from sewage sludge incineration ash at KEBAG’s site, Zuchwil, near Soluthurn. KEBAG AG Zuchwil collects and manages waste from half a million inhabitants in the cantons of Bern and Soluthurn. ZAR is the Foundation for Sustainable Waste and Resource Use. The Phos4Life process leaches ash with sulphuric acid, followed by filtration and separation of iron, aluminium and heavy metals by solvent extraction, to generate technical-grade phosphoric acid. The 40 000 t(ash)/y plant is planned for commissioning in 2026.

“Técnicas Reunidas wins two contracts in Switzerland for the use of proprietary technologies in circular economy projects.”, 21st June 2021

Details of Phos4Life process: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

25 million US$ for P sustainability research centre: STEPS

The US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance will help lead a major phosphorus research centre, with 9 US research institutes, to accelerate fundamental science and develop technologies and practices for sustainable P management. “Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability”, STEPS, is one of six new science and technology centres “to address vexing societal problems” announced by the US National Science Foundation and will receive a total of 25 million US$ in NSF funding over five years, with the possibility of a 5-year renewal. STEPS stems in part from the network of researchers launched in 2011 with the NSF P Sustainability Research Coordination Network RCN (SCOPE Newsletter n°125) and the practitioner network of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance (SPA), with strong involvement of Jim Elser and Matt Scholz of SPA.

STEPS research is structured across three themes:

1: Human Technology Scale: physico-chemical materials and biologic material design to develop processes for capturing and releasing phosphorus species;

2: Regional and Global Scale: incorporation of these materials into structures and processes;

3: Convergence Informatics: modelling of phosphorus flows and management scenarios.

STEPS will include education - awareness and research – training actions.

STEPS is led by researchers from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, the University of Illinois, Marquette University, RTI International, Appalachian State University, and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

“Alliance Helps Lead Major P Research Center”, 8 September 2021 LINK.

US National Science Foundation announcement.

STEPS: https://steps-center.org

 

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SCOPE newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/SCOPEnewsletter         
eNews newsletter: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNewshome
If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/european-sustainable-phosphorus-platform/           
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Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 3 2021

 

The European Commission has replied to ESPP that post-processing of digestates and composts (e.g. solid-liquid separation, stabilisation …) is not at present covered by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) CMC criteria.

ESPP raised this question to DG GROW some time ago, because such post-processing will often be implemented to condition and prepare products to place on the European market, especially digestates. The Commission’s reply also confirms that processing additives used downstream of the anaerobic digester / composter are not considered as “composting /digestion additives” (as cited in CMCs3 and 5), e.g. polymers for solid-liquid separation, pH adjusters, granulation aids …

It is in ESPP’s view preferable to resolve such questions now, rather than have them being brought up during a control of a product already on the market after implementation of the FPR from June 2022.

The Commission has indicated to ESPP that amendment of CMCs 3-5 (Annex II of the FPR) could be considered to include (certain) post-processing routes, and that this will be discussed in the next EU Fertilisers Expert Group (of which ESPP is a member) in November 2021.

ESPP proposes to work with relevant federations and operators, to prepare a list of process routes and of additives used for post-processing of composts and digestates, and collate information for each one on how widespread is application and market relevance, product benefits, additives used, extent to which compost/digestate is or is not chemically modified by the process, …

EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) 2019/2009

The US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance will help lead a major phosphorus research centre, with 9 US research institutes, to accelerate fundamental science and develop technologies and practices for sustainable P management. “Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability”, STEPS, is one of six new science and technology centres “to address vexing societal problems” announced by the US National Science Foundation and will receive a total of 25 million US$ in NSF funding over five years, with the possibility of a 5-year renewal. STEPS stems in part from the network of researchers launched in 2011 with the NSF P Sustainability Research Coordination Network RCN (SCOPE Newsletter n°125) and the practitioner network of the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance(SPA), with strong involvement of Jim Elser and Matt Scholz of SPA.

STEPS research is structured across three themes:

1: Human Technology Scale: physico-chemical materials and biologic material design to develop processes for capturing and releasing phosphorus species;

2: Regional and Global Scale: incorporation of these materials into structures and processes;

3: Convergence Informatics: modelling of phosphorus flows and management scenarios.

STEPS will include education - awareness and research – training actions.

STEPS is led by researchers from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, the University of Illinois, Marquette University, RTI International, Appalachian State University, and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

“Alliance Helps Lead Major P Research Center”, 8 September 2021 LINK.

US National Science Foundation announcement.

STEPS: https://steps-center.org

Industry concerned that the lack of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CAB) may prevent products from obtaining access to the market under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR).

The new FPR (EU) 2019/1009 (FPR) is set to apply from 16 July 2022 and requires third party certification for many products covered by this regulation. Accreditation of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) is required so that fertilising and plant biostimulant products are able to gain access to the EU Single Market. So far, very few CABs have applied for accreditation across EU member states to date. We are concerned that the lack of CABs will prevent products covered by the FPR from accessing the Single Market, which will be detrimental to industries and farmers alike.

In this context, EBIC, ECOFI, Fertilizers Europe and IVA are urging all concerned parties to reach out to organisations qualified and eligible to act as Conformity Assessment Bodies immediately and encourage them to apply without further delay for notification. To demonstrate the potential demand for CABs, these four associations reached out to their members to make a preliminary, joint estimate of how many products are expected to be submitted for certification under the FPR in the next two years. The data was collected by a third party in full compliance with competition rules and the resulting aggregated figures were made available to the European Commission. To gain access to the data and for further information, please contact  .

The European Commission is organising a virtual info session for certification companies interested in becoming conformity assessment bodies/notified bodies entitled "Conformity assessment of EU fertilising products: WHY and HOW to become a notified body?". Interested parties can register for this on-line event by sending an e-mail to DG GROW.

Article provided by ECOFI.

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

EU consultation on “Taxonomy”
P-recovery in EU list of top-100 green activities … but clarifications needed

Other events
DPP Forum (German Phosphorus Platform)
Hamburg Wasser – EWA – VSA online workshop on P-recovery
Phos4You Final Conference
CRU Sustainable Fertiliser Production
European Wastewater Management – full day on phosphorus
SPA “Legacy Phosphorus” webinar

Calls for input
Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

ESPP new Member
RecaP innovation training network (EU Marie Curie)

Policy
EU consultation on water pollutants
EU call for experts for EGTOP (Organic Farming)
EU consultation on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)
Consultation on EU Ecolabel for Growing Media and Soil Improvers
European Commission “MSA” for P4
EU legislative proposals to further sewage circularity

Global action on phosphorus
Status of development of the Irish Nutrient Sustainability Platform
EU Environment Agency: nutrient and carbon recycling from sewage sludge

Nutrient recycling
N2 Applied field trials report
SusPhos pilot producing phosphoric acid from sludge incineration ash
Quebec: agricultural application of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA)

Research
Phosphorus in global agricultural product trade
Phosphates concluded to be safe as used in cosmetics
Book chapter: phosphorus in human health
Harvesting marine biomass offers nutrient and climate benefits
P-footprint of food in Brussels
Pyrolysis of sewage sludge eliminates organic contaminants
Struvite effective fertiliser for alfalfa, Manitoba, Canada
Recycled P for Canada’s Organic farming
Struvite tested for use in hydroponics
Lab tests of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) in fertiliser production
Review of fertiliser value of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA)
Pot trials of P-fertiliser from digestates
Possibilities for P-recycling from baby nappies
Climate change and plant P uptake
Plant phosphorus in diet causes health problems

Erratum
Global peatlands phosphorus and carbon

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

espc4 enews 58 2The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for 4 years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, which attracted 300 participants from 30 countries SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 will include a Nutrient Recovery Technology Fair, with stands, presentations and possibility to meet technology suppliers presented in the ESPP-DPP-NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies, currently being updated (see below).

ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both in-person in Vienna and accessible online.

The updated outline programme of ESPC4 and a call for abstracts for presentations and posters for ESPC4 are now online

https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

EU consultation on “Taxonomy”

P-recovery in EU list of top-100 green activities … but clarifications needed

The EU Taxonomy will classify which economic activities, and when, are considered environmentally sustainable, so eligible for EU Green Deal investment. It may become a key tool for private investors, markets, other public policies. Phosphorus recovery from sewage is one of the 100 activities listed (at the same level as e.g. livestock production, crop production, hotels and accommodation …) but N-recovery or P-recovery from other streams is not cited.

Consultation open to 24th September 2021, 18h00 deadline (not midnight).

 

The unified EU-wide classification system (“EU Taxonomy”) will establish an operational list of economic activities, with technical screening criteria (TSC), determining in which cases each economic activity makes a ‘substantial contribution’ to an environmental objective. The Taxonomy Regulation (2020/852) defines six eligible environmental objectives: Climate change mitigation, Climate change adaptation, Water and marine resources, Circular economy, Pollution prevention and control, Biodiversity and ecosystems.

The EU has now published a report (over 1 000 pages including the annex) proposing criteria for classifying when a wide range of different industries and activities can thus be considered environmentally friendly, covering (amongst many others) agriculture (both livestock and crop production), sewage treatment, waste management ... The report and its annex propose TSC (Technical Screening Criteria for “substantial contribution” to sustainability) and criteria for DNSH (Do No Significant Harm, under Pollution Prevention and Control).

The consultation, based on the published report draft Taxonomy categories and criteria, enables public comment, for each of the nearly one hundred activities / industries listed, to comment on the description/boundaries of the activity and the proposed criteria (TSC and DNSH): ambition level of criteria, key factors missing from criteria, feasibility of implementation, comparison to state of the art, scientific justification, possible improvements of wording or clarifications.

Phosphorus recovery from waste water is one of nearly one hundred activities for which Technical Screening Criteria are proposed (Annex B, pages 922-927).

However, the proposal is limited, somewhat imprecise and in places confused:

  • It refers only to P-recovery from municipal wastewater (it is under $12: “Sewage”)
  • Only P-recovery, recovery of N or other nutrients or organic carbon are not considered
  • Only two specific routes are considered:
    - P-recovery integrated into the wastewater treatment plant, with recovery of >10% of inflow sewage works P (e.g. struvite)
    - P-recovery from sewage sludge mono-incineration ash by chemical or thermal process, with recovery of > 80% of inflow
  • The text inappropriately compares energy consumption in the above P-recovery routes to that in production of P4
  • It seems to be assumed that all recovered P materials will be used as fertiliser, whereas recovered phosphoric acid can be used in high added-value technical applications
  • Close reference is made to the German P-recovery legislation, but no mention of the Swiss legislation, which is of interest as regards implementation and state-of-the-art even if not in the EU
  • No requirements, or inappropriate, are proposed on contaminant separation in the recovery process, safety and quality of the recovered P product (it is stated that it will be “a material with a real market demand ensuring its reasonable use” but then conformity only to the old EU fertilisers regulation 2003/2003 is specified)

ESPP will input to this consultation addressing the questions above.

ESPP members and other stakeholders reading this eNews are recommended to reply to this EU public consultation, suggesting other technologies for inclusion in this section on “P-recovery”, inclusion of technologies for N-recovery, or suggesting inclusion of nutrient recovery in other sections, e.g. 1.1 Agriculture – animal production; 2.19 – Manufacture of food & beverages – circular economy; 11 - Water supply / desalination; 13.5 – Recovery of bio-waste by AD and/or composting; 13.8 – Material recovery of non-hazardous waste.

For water, the proposed criteria are based on achieving good environmental status of fresh or marine waters (as defined under the Water Framework and Marine Strategy Framework Directives), or preventing deterioration of waters in good status.

For agriculture, proposed criteria for both animal and crop production include limiting nutrient losses, in particular by a farm-gate nitrogen balance and minimum nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). ESPP will input that these criteria should be widened to include phosphorus. A livestock feeding plan, specifying feed nutrient content, and an annual crop nutrient management plan, including soil testing every 3-5 years for N and every 5 years for P, are also indicated under DNSH.

EU public consultation on “Taxonomy”, open to 24th September 18h00 CEST (not midnight). This page includes overview, links to the report and annex with proposed categories and criteria, and link to the public consultation questionnaire: https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/210803-sustainable-finance-platform-technical-screening-criteria-taxonomy-report_en With thanks to EBA for alerting ESPP to this consultation.

  

 

Other events

 

DPP Forum (German Phosphorus Platform)

9th September Frankfurt-am-Main and online. Bringing recycled phosphates to the market. In German

Programme and registration here.

 

Hamburg Wasser – EWA – VSA online workshop on P-recovery

21st September 10h30-13h00, online broadcast from the Remondis P-recovery plant, Hamburg, Germany: first full-scale operational experience of P-recovery in Hamburg, update on P-recovery in Switzerland, etc. The event is organised by Hamburg Wasser (city-owned municipal water company), with EWA (European Water Association, a water profession association with members across much of Europe) and input from VSA (Swiss Association of Water Protection Professionals)

Registration here.

 

Phos4You Final Conference

22 – 23 September, presentation of Phos4You (InterReg) project outcomes, presentations of trials of P-recovery technologies, regulatory developments, LCA aspects. With European Commission DG GROW and DG AGRI and InterReg Secretariat. Technologies presented will be: EuPhoRe, bioacidification & STRUVIA struvite, PULSE (Liège University), Parforce, Filtraflo (crab carapace P-adsorption), micro-algae.

In-person capacity is now fully booked, but online registration is still open.  Phos4You website for programme etc. Registration here.

 

CRU Sustainable Fertiliser Production

Online industry conference addressing fertiliser industry carbon footprint, emissions tax systems, Green and Blue Ammonia and Hydrogen, CO2 capture and (23rd September afternoon) phosphogypsum recycling and P-recovery.

20-23 September, online https://events.crugroup.com/sustainableferttech

 

European Wastewater Management – full day on phosphorus

28-29 September, Birmingham UK and online, European Wastewater Management Conference (EWWM, AquaEnviro) with a full day (28 September) on P-removal and P-recycling. Updates on technologies to achieve low phosphorus discharge constraints and on catchment P management, from Welsh Water, United Utilites, Yorkshire Water, Severn Trent Water, Thames Water and from technology suppliers / deliverers Arvia, Stantec, Brightwork BV, Bluewater Bio, Evoqua, WPL.

EWWM, 28-29 September 2021 https://ewwmconference.com/

 

SPA “Legacy Phosphorus” webinar

30th September, 18h-19h30 CEST (Brussels/Paris summer time), organised by the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance. The webinar aims to describe the global magnitude of the “legacy P problem”, where phosphorus from past applications overwhelms soil P storage capacity and leaks into surface waters, to discuss soil chemistry of “legacy P” and techniques for dealing with the resulting P losses to water bodies. With Dean Hesterberg, Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials, Isis Scott, University of Maryland, and Jean-Olivier Goyette, University of Montreal.

Online, free, information and registration here:

https://asu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I_KBf7BQSJeShoGrXskmIg

 

 

Calls for input

 

Update and new entries for Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies

ESPP, DPP and NNP are updating the Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies summarising processes for recovery of nutrients from sewage, manure or other sources. Information is invited on technologies to be added. To be included, technologies should be operational or demonstrated at full-scale or pilot scale, and should recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and/or micro-nutrients. The catalogue provides practical data and information on: technology supplier(s) (website, contact), process input materials (sewage sludge, ash, manure …), output products (nutrient content, organic carbon content and other properties), process description (in particular indicating fate of contaminants), current operating status (number and capacity of plants operating, capacity of pilots and duration of continuous operation) and photos of installations.

To include further technologies in the Catalogue: send information, as specified above and if possible in the format of (column titles) the Catalogue as currently online here to

ESPP - DPP - NNP Catalogue of Nutrient Recovery Technologies: http://www.phosphorusplatform.eu/p-recovery-technology-inventory

 

Call for abstracts: ESPC4, Vienna 2022

A new call for abstracts for presentations and posters is now open for the 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference, Vienna 20-22 June 2022. Deadline 30th November 2021. Proposed presentations should address the conference parallel session themes (see updated outline programme here): Policy tools and business models, Climate change links to phosphorus management, New fertilisers for nutrient sustainability, P-recycling R&D and new technologies, Regions in action for phosphorus sustainability. Posters can address any theme relating to phosphorus sustainability. Abstract submission instructions are on the conference website here.

ESPC4 – PERM5 website: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4 


 

ESPP new Member

 

RecaP innovation training network (EU Marie Curie)

The RecaP project, an H2020 MSCA-ITN led by University of Southern Denmark (SDU), will train 15 PhD students with support from 23 industrial and research organizations in 10 countries. RecaP stands for “Capture, recycling and societal management of phosphorus in the environment” and aims to contribute to sustainable phosphorus changes across the globe. Our international collaboration addresses the world's changing Phosphorus needs by creating a new generation of Phosphorus specialists to become ‘knowledge brokers’ across disciplinary silos with their interdisciplinary skills, experience and networks, ensuring transformative changes in P sustainability in the EU. RecaP will not just explore the technical aspects of the global P challenge, but also where such solutions can be implemented in a way that is socially, economically, and environmentally acceptable. The 15 PhD projects fall into one of five themes: the capture and recycling of P from wastewater and freshwater systems, novel P recovery techniques, strategies to improve crop utilization of P, novel freshwater restoration techniques, and barriers and enablers to policy and economic transformation to support recycling. All activities are connected to one another in order to create novel insights that can help create new P governance.

By becoming a member of the ESPP, RecaP joins the strong collaboration of partners contributing to a long-term vision for phosphorus sustainability in Europe and the world.

The RecaP project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skƚodowska-Curie grant agreement No 956454. Website.

 

 

Policy

EU consultation on water pollutants

The EU has opened a public consultation to 1st November 2021 on pollutants to surface and groundwaters, asking about types of chemical, sectors, types of regulation and possible sources of further information. The consultation, set in the context of the Green Deal and the Zero Pollution Action Plan, is open to both the general public and to stakeholder organisations, and is mainly general questions asking about defining priorities for concern. Chemicals and sectors mentioned include agriculture, fertilisers, pesticides, waste water treatment, pharmaceuticals, micro-plastics, household chemicals, chemicals released from household items (e.g. flame retardants). The ‘Roadmap’ prior to this consultation (10/2020) suggests that regulatory policy options after this consultation could include modifications of the current lists of chemicals designated as ‘Priority Hazardous’, ‘Priority’, ‘Watch List’ or Groundwater ‘Pollutants’ lists under the Water Framework, Environmental Quality Standards or Groundwater Directives. Currently the EU Water Framework Directive “Watch List” includes certain pharmaceuticals (e.g; Diclofenac (anti-inflammatory), Ethinylestradiol (contraceptive) …). Phosphorus is listed in the Groundwater Directive since 2014, so requiring Member States to define threshold values and monitor concentrations of phosphorus (P) in groundwater.

Water Framework Directive “Priority” and “Priority Hazardous” substances list as specified by Annex II of Directive 2008/105/EC and eight other substances for which environmental quality standards for these substances are included in the Environmental Quality Standards Directive 2008/105/EC: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-framework/priority_substances.htm

Surface water chemicals “Watch List” COM 2018/840  https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32018D0840

Groundwater Directive 2006/118/EC list of “Minimum list of pollutants and their indicators for which Member States have to consider establishing threshold values” (Annex II, Part B) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:02006L0118-20140711

Directive on Environmental Quality Standards (Directive 2008/105/EC) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32008L0105

EU public consultation, open to 1st November 2021: “Integrated water management – revised lists of surface and groundwater pollutants” LINK.

 

EU call for experts for EGTOP (Organic Farming)

Call for applications for selection of members of EGTOP, the Expert Group for Technical Advice on Organic Production, open to 15th September 2021 here.

EU consultation on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

The EU has opened a public and stakeholder consultation to 21st October 2021 for the review of the MSFD, noting that Member States were supposed to achieve marine Good Environmental Status by 2020. Questions address the state of Europe’s marine environment, definition of Good Environmental State (GES) and is this definition clear and coherent?, effectiveness of different policy actions, obstacles to achieving GES, benefits of the Directive, resources allocated by Member States for MSFD actions, coherence with other EU policies, added value of the Directive. Two questions specifically mention nutrients: proposed actions the public is ready to do (proposed option: eat less meat and fish, so reducing nutrient losses) and ‘Descriptors’ characterising Good Environmental Status for marine waters (one option: excess nutrients). ESPP will input underlining the need to reduce N and P inputs to coastal waters, with Marine Region nutrient reduction targets, coherent with the Farm-to-Fork -50% nutrient loss target 2030, and actions in EU agricultural and water policies. ESPP will also emphasise the links between coastal eutrophication and climate change.

EU public consultation, open to 21st October 2021: “Protecting the marine environment – review of EU rules” LINK.

 

Consultation on EU Ecolabel for Growing Media and Soil Improvers

Comments are open to 19/9/2021 on draft revised EU Ecolabel criteria for Growing Media and Soil Improvers. Resource-efficient use of nutrients is emphasised and some % recycled materials requirements are proposed. The proposals, however, in fact suggest a minimum 30% of “organic” components (not necessarily recycled) or alternatively a minimum 30% recycled content of mineral components. Furthermore, these requirements are proposed for Growing Media only, not for Soil Improvers. ESPP will input suggesting that the proposed 30% minimum content of recycled or secondary materials should apply to both organic and mineral components, and also specifically to nutrients (P and N) where significant in the product. ESPP will also comment regarding definitions of phosphorus content, definition of “organic” and “biological origin” (exclude “fossil” materials) and coherence of specifications with the EU Fertilising Products Regulation.

Draft revised EU Ecolabel criteria for Growing Media and Soil Improvers (download the document titled “ANNEX_Stakeholders consultation July – September. Draft proposal of the Commission Decision that establishes EU Ecolabel criteria for growing media and soil improvers” and the document “Table for comments” necessary to submit your comments). Deadline 19th September 2021 https://susproc.jrc.ec.europa.eu/product-bureau/product-groups/450/documents

 

European Commission “MSA” for P4

The EU (JRC) has published the Material System Analysis (“MSA”) for elemental phosphorus (P4 / white phosphorus), using the JRC Critical Raw Materials common methodology and drawing on the workshop co-organised with ESPP (2020, full summary, see SCOPE Newsletter n°136). The MSA for P4 is published along with those of eight other materials added to the EU Critical Raw Materials List (CRM) in 2017 (as was P4). The EU MSA methodology was developed by Deloitte in 2015 (see critique of the MSA for phosphate rock in SCOPE Newsletter n°119) and updated by JRC (Torres de Matos et al. 2020). It aims to provide a data set for each material for flows and stocks in the EU, so highlighting hotspots, bottlenecks and possibilities for circularity.

The elemental phosphorus (P4) MSA identifies that although this represents only 2-3% of total phosphate rock use, P4 and its derivatives are essential for a wide range of end-uses including fire safety, water treatment, catalysts, lubricants, electronics, pharmaceuticals … P4 is produced from phosphate rock in specific high-temperature furnaces, with high energy consumption. Europe has today no P4 furnace, and is dependent on imports, principally from Kazakhstan, Vietnam and China (not necessarily in this order of magnitude).

Many phosphorus chemicals, and also the extremely high-purity phosphoric acid needed in electronics, can only today be feasibly produced via P4 (from P4 or from P4 derivatives). Because of the energy cost of P4 production, phosphate fertilisers, animal feed phosphates, detergent phosphates (but not phosphonates) are today produced from phosphate rock via phosphoric acid (“wet acid route”), followed by purification, and this is increasingly also the case for (human) food phosphates and metal treatment. The MSA notes that use of P4 derived chemicals in lithium-ion batteries, currently limited, may significantly increase in the future.

The MSA concludes that the EU is overall self-sufficient in manufacture of end-use chemicals reliant on P4 / P4 derivatives, but is entirely dependent on import of P4 / P4 derivatives for this manufacture.

Recycling of P4 is today inexistent (the MSA concludes EOL-RIR and EOL-RR both zero), but JRC notes that recycling of P-based flame retardants may develop, and that several projects are looking at producing P4 in the EU from phosphorus-rich wastes, in particular sewage sludge incineration ash.

Lastly, JRC underlines the difficulties in establishing quantitative data on P4 flows, because currently significant uses can be based on either “wet-acid” or P4 derivatives.

“Material System Analysis of Nine Raw Materials: Barytes, Bismuth, Hafnium, Helium, Natural Rubber, Phosphorus, Scandium, Tantalum and Vanadium”, C. Torres de Matos et al., European Commission JRC, EUR 30704 EN, 2021 DOI

 

 

EU legislative proposals to further sewage circularity

Eureau, the European water sector federation, has proposed changes to EU water and waste regulations to facilitate recycling from sewage. Eureau says the objectives of sewage sludge recycling, stated in the Urban Waste Water Treatment (UWWTD) and the Sewage Sludge Directives should be grouped and clarified in one legal instrument. Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) obligations concerning emissions of industrial chemicals into municipal sewage networks should be tightened to ensure better upstream information of water operators and to exclude all risks of discharge of SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern). Regulatory status of anaerobic digesters treating a mixture of sewage sludge and other organic materials should be clarified. End-of-Waste criteria should be developed for materials recovered from sewage.

Eureau July 2021: Position paper “Enabling the circular potential of sewage sludge within the EU legislative framework. A critical analysis of the current urban waste water treatment sludge legislation with respect to the circular economy” www.eaureau.org and direct link HERE.

 

 

 

Global action on phosphorus

 

Status of development of the Irish Nutrient Sustainability Platform

Following stakeholder meetings, this all-Ireland platform aims to support nutrient circularity and expects an initial 20+ paying members. The all-Ireland Nutrient Sustainability Platform (INSP) project was initiated with an Ireland EPA study in 2014. This led to a “Founders Day” stakeholder meeting in 2019 with nineteen industry, governmental and academic organisations present. This Day validated a platform vision and mission, a proposed structure, budget and funding model. The aim is to employ a full-time platform manager. The budget, as now reviewed, aims for c. 50% funding from membership fees (approx.. 20 members), and the remainder from research grants or projects. Signature of members is now ongoing.

“An Irish Nutrient Sustainability Platform to underpin sustainable development”, Ireland EPA Report n°381, June 2021, V. O’Flaherty et al., 51 pages HERE.

 

 

EU Environment Agency: nutrient and carbon recycling from sewage sludge

The Agency estimates that P-recovery from 50% of the sewage sludge currently not valorised to farmland could replace up to 10% of fertiliser P, with potential also for recovery of N and S. The study considers that the potential of sewage sludge to increase soil fertility by input of organic carbon cannot be calculated with available data. The study is based on Eurostat data for 2018 or 2017 full implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive requirements for sewage collection and treatment (but does not take into account possible more stringent nutrient requirements resulting from the Water Framework Directive or other policies). It assumes 100% valorisation of phosphorus in sewage sludge applied to farmland (after composting and/or anaerobic digestion), mono-incineration of 50% of sewage sludge not applied to farmland and 90% P-recovery from mono-incineration ash.

In 2017-2018, some 10.4 million tonnes (DM/y) of sewage sludge were produced in the EU (17 gDM/capita/year), with 83% of the population connected to sewerage (sewage collection systems). Destination of sewage sludge is unclear, because different Member States have categories such as “other” or “compost”, but probably 48% is used in agriculture, 23% incinerated and 28% is landfilled or otherwise disposed.

The study specifically looks at four countries (Estonia, Germany, Italy and Sweden) and at two case studies of contaminants (DEHP, a phthalate used widely in PVC and benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) and polycyclic aromatic carbon released in smoke (wood and other fuels, tobacco, barbecues …).

The European Environment Agency concludes that 1% - 10% of P fertiliser used in the EU (in 2018) could be replaced by P in sewage sludge, via agricultural use and application of P-recovery to half of the ash where sludge is incinerated.

There is also potential to recover and additional 3 500 GWh electricity (on top of current production) if sludge currently landfilled or composted is instead anaerobically digested (to produce biogas methane).

Currently agricultural use of sewage sludge represents nearly 1% of EU nitrogen fertiliser use, but this could be increased if N was recovered in sewage treatment rather than denitrified to N2 released to the air.

The report recommends:

  • Improvements to sewage sludge data in Europe, in particular concerning treatment and disposal routes;
  • Further analysis of the energy, nutrient and organic carbon potential of sewage sludges;
  • Action to reduce contaminant inputs upstream of sewage works, and also investigation of new solutions in sewage and sludge treatment to address contaminants.

“Sewage sludge and the circular economy”, European Environment Agency, N. Anderson et al., 17th May 2021, 138 pages. Online here.

 

 

Nutrient recycling

N2 Applied field trials report

ESPP member, N2 Applied has published results showing that their process treating manure resulted in higher wheat protein yields, NUE comparable to mineral N fertiliser and reduced manure ammonia and methane emissions. N2 Applied supplies on-farm units which condition and nitrogen-enrich manure (or other organic materials) using only air and electricity (see ESPP eNews n°33). The resulting Nitrogen Enriched Organic Fertiliser (NEO) has a better N:P ratio than manure. Ammonia and methane emissions in manure storage and use are avoided. In 2020, field trials were carried out using the NEO fertiliser on wheat at ten locations in Scandinavia, the UK and South Africa. Results show that the N2 Applied NEO fertiliser led nearly always to higher wheat protein content (average +41%). The trials also showed NUE (nitrogen use efficiency) comparable to mineral nitrogen fertiliser and considerably better than for manure/slurry. The trials in Sweden and in the UK also showed near zero loss of ammonia and methane with N2 Applied, compared to 0.25 kg ammonia and 0.48 kg methane loss per tonne of untreated manure (over 108 summer days).

“Performance Report 2020. NEO by N2 Applied” here.

 

SusPhos pilot producing phosphoric acid from sludge incineration ash

A 25 kg ash/day pilot is being tested in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, using sewage sludge incineration ash to produce phosphoric acid. The first step of the process is based on the same overall principles as others already operational or under development (EasyMining AshtoPhos, Remondis Tetraphos, ZAR/Técnicas Reunidas Phos4Life, …): attack of the ash using acid, but the subsequent processing does not use water, relying on solvent extraction to separate out purified phosphoric acid. By-products are iron/aluminium salts (for recycling to sewage works for P-removal). Heavy metals are fixed into inert an insoluble minerals stream, potentially valorisable in construction, and iron and aluminium are removed and recovered as recyclable salts.  SusPhos claim that the proprietary organic solvent and extraction process used enable production of high quality phosphoric acid and >95%  heavy metal removal in a cost-effective, simple system without ion exchange or membranes  In addition, the process can produce high-purity ammonium phosphates in a simple add-on step. The SusPhos process has also been adapted to use struvite as input, with ongoing development for iron phosphate (vivianite) The developers will start a 4 000 kt/y pilot in October 2021 and indicate the aim to build a full-scale plant (50 000 t/y input) in the Netherlands in coming years.

“Recycling: SusPhos maakt de fosfaatcirkel rond”, VNCI Royal Association of the Dutch Chemical industry, July 2021, LINK.

 

Quebec: agricultural application of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA)

SSIA from Montreal sewage works has been used directly as an agricultural amendment since 2016 with c. 8 000 tonnes of ash applied to farmland in 2020. The ashes are classed by agronomic value (P and lime contents). A report prepared on request of the Jean-R. Marcotte wastewater treatment plant, Montreal, presents in detail the use of the sewage sludge incineration ashes as an agricultural fertiliser. 15% of the 50 000 tonnes of sewage produced by the sewage works were spread on farmland in 2020. The ashes can be sorted into three categories:

  • Fertil Cendres. Minimum 0.6% “available” phosphorus (as P), pH < 11.3. This material is registered by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and can be used as a fertiliser.
  • Fertil Cendres PLUS. Minimum 1.3% “available” phosphorus (as P). A new registration is pending.
  • Liming ash. pH > 11.3

“Available” phosphorus is defined as NAC (neutral ammonium citrate) soluble, generally considered to be a good indicator of plant availability

The wastewater treatment work’s sewage sludge incineration ash contains an average of 3.7% total phosphorus (P), range 1.2% - 6.5%, and average 1.9%, range 0.4% - 7.4% plant “available” (as P). The ash contains nearly zero nitrogen and only 1.2% potassium (average, as K). Because the soluble potassium is lost to water in the sewage works, the remaining K is mostly not plant available. Heavy metal and dioxin levels meet the Canada CFIA regulation requirements. The liming ash can meet the requirements of BNQ 0419-090, Quebec Standard for “Liming materials from industrial processes”.

The report notes that in 2020 the agricultural use of the ash costs more than landfill disposal, but that changes in landfill tax and a tax on incineration (resulting from the Quebec Organic Matter Recovery Strategy, see SCOPE Newsletter n°134) could make the agricultural use of sludge ash cost-effective in coming years.

Hébert, M. 2021. « Recyclage agricole des cendres de boues d’épuration municipales de Montréal ‐

État des lieux et optimisation des pratiques ». In French, 71 pages, inc. 3-page English summary. http://marchebert.ca/publications/

The report will be presented in English at the NEBRA (US North East Biosolids and Residuals Association Conference, 7th October 2021.

 

Research

 

Phosphorus in global agricultural product trade

P in traded crops and livestock products (not including P traded in fertilisers, phosphoric acid, other chemicals, phosphate rock) is estimated to be c. 16% of that in harvested biomass. This means an estimate of 17.5 MtP/y in harvested biomass, which compares to the ESPP Phosphorus Factsheet estimate of 17 – 24 MtP/y in phosphate rock mined annually worldwide. The study estimates a global cropland soil P budget (inputs, outputs) assuming losses by leaching + runoff of 12.5% (based on Bouwman 2013). P in globally traded crops and livestock products is estimated at 2.8 million tonnes P / year (2014), of which 70% in soybean (0.71 MtP/y), wheat (0.66 MtP/y) and maize (0.54 MtP/y). Only 12 countries were net P exporters and the biggest net P-exporters were the USA and Brazil, the biggest net importer was China (note: this concerns only P in crops and livestock products traded). The authors estimate that global trade in agricultural products saves net c. 0.2 MtP/y (ESPP note: c. 1% of global fertiliser use) because of different P use efficiencies between countries. The authors underline that much larger savings could be made by global cooperation to improve PUE (phosphorus use efficiency). The paper includes eleven very visual diagrams illustrating P-flows between countries, by crop type, importing and exporting countries, fertiliser savings vs. wastage.

“Influences of international agricultural trade on the global phosphorus cycle and its associated issues”, F. Lun et al., Global Environmental Change 69 (2021) 102282, DOI.

 

Phosphates concluded to be safe as used in cosmetics

A 52-page analysis of toxicology data on phosphoric acid and 30 inorganic phosphate salts, based on over 150 references, concludes that they are safe “as used” in cosmetics. The review covers phosphoric acid and calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium phosphates, metaphosphates and pyrophosphates. The most widely used inorganic phosphates in cosmetics are indicated to be phosphoric acid (mostly in wash-off products) and dicalcium phosphates (mostly leave-on). Dicalcium phosphate is indicated to be used at up to 50% in toothpastes. The review considers skin irritation, oral toxicity, accidental inhalation and possible long-term effects. Phosphoric acid is irritating and corrosive at low pH. The analysis concludes that all of these inorganic phosphates are safe for use in cosmetics when formulated to be not irritating.

“Safety Assessment of Phosphoric Acid and Its Salts as Used in Cosmetics”, W. Johnson et al., International Journal of Toxicology 2021, Vol. 40(Supplement 1) 34S-85S DOI.

The authors are all affiliated to the Expert Panel for Cosmetic Ingredient Safety, part of the “Cosmetic Ingredient Review”. The organisation is financially supported by the US cosmetics industry (Personal Care Products Council) and supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Federation of America and its reviews are “independent” of the industry trade body.

 

Book chapter: phosphorus in human health

This 88-page review includes some emerging human health research areas such as phytate, phosphate polymers and phosphorus action as a signalling molecule. The authors note that levels of P in human diets worldwide are on average twice that needed by the body, posing questions of possible health effects of high P intake, especially with phosphate food additives which are much more bio-assimilable than most P in foodstuffs. Phytate, a widespread form of P in plant materials (see SCOPE Newsletter n°109) is generally considered to be not digested by humans, so that its P content is not absorbed in the gut. However, recent research shows that some phytate may be available, especially if the diet is low in calcium. Dietary phytate has benefits of reducing absorption of fat and sugar from food, but can also reduce absorption of essential minerals such as Zn, Fe, Ca. Mechanisms of P homeostasis in the body are detailed, including the roles of calcitonin, vitamin D, PTH (parathyroid hormone), GFG23 and Klotho. Possible health effects of high blood phosphorus (serum orthophosphorus = Pi) are suggested including feedback on these signalling molecules, insulin secretion, bone health, calcification of arteries and modification of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), brain health (possibly linked to Pi levels in CSF – cerebrospinal fluid), kidney health, cell autophagy (self-destruction) and ageing. Inorganic polyphosphate polymers, found in mammal cells at very low levels, are an emerging area of research. They appear to be involved in energy storage, would healing and inflammation, protection of protein structure, neuron health and vascular functions. The authors suggest that more research is needed into possible health impacts of high diet P, in particular on brain health, and into possible induced changes in polyphosphate levels.

“The emerging role of phosphorus in human health”, P. Bird & N. Eskin, Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, Volume 96, 2021 DOI.

 

Harvesting marine biomass offers nutrient and climate benefits

Blue-green circular economy: LCA for seven examples of harvesting cultivated or spontaneous biomass from the sea shows benefits for climate and for eutrophication mitigation. All cases studied were in the Baltic or Kattegat Seas. Four aquaculture cases: mariculture of sugar kelp (Saccharina latissimi, used for production of fuels or chemicals), blue mussels (for food, at two sites), and ascidians (sea squirts, for food). Three cases of spontaneous biomass: invasive Pacific oysters (aquaculture of this species is forbidden, but it is harvested for control purposes and then sold as food), common reed (Phragmites) and harvest of mixed beach-cast seaweed. LCA analysis show that the emissions of CO2-equiv and of phosphorus to water related to harvesting and supply chain activities are low, compared to N, P and C contained in the harvested biomass, so that all seven cases contributed positively to mitigation of eutrophication and to net climate emissions reduction, as well as bringing benefits such as improved water quality and clean seafronts. Discussions with stakeholders underlined the need to improve science evidence of benefits of such blue-green economy activities, which are often locally specific, in order to support discussions with policy makers and investors. Stakeholders noted the challenges posed by complex and outdated regulatory landscapes.

“Marine biomass for a circular blue-green bioeconomy?: A life cycle perspective on closing nitrogen and phosphorus land-marine loops”, J-B. Thomas et al., Journal of Industrial Ecology 2021;1–18 DOI.

 

 

P-footprint of food in Brussels

The phosphorus footprint for Brussels Capital Region is calculated as (average) 7.7 kgP/person/year, that is ten times higher than the actual food intake of 0.7 kgP/year (1.9 gP/day). The study is based on estimated consumption of 19 different food groups, derived from the Belgian Household Budget Survey 2014, average nutrient content for each food group and estimates of P-inputs to produce each foodstuff, based on feed consumption I livestock-producing regions and fertiliser use in crop-growing countries compared to food product outputs. 60% of the inputs to food production are from manure (ESPP comment: this could be considered as “recycled P”, so not as “input” to the P-footprint) and 40% from mineral fertiliser). The study assumes 100% recycling of P in food waste and sewage sludge (this optimistic assumption leads to a conservative estimate of the P-footprint (underestimate).

Most of the P inputs are for livestock production, and a shift to vegetarian or vegan diets would reduce the P-footprint to 4.8 kgPperson//year –40%) or 0.9 kgP/person/year (-90%) respectively. The authors also conclude that consuming only food produced in Belgium would increase the P-footprint because of high manure use in Flanders.

“A resource-based phosphorus footprint for urban diets”, A. Papangelou et al., Environ. Res. Lett. 16 (2021) 075002 DOI.

 

 

Pyrolysis of sewage sludge eliminates organic contaminants

An up-to-date review of published data on biochars shows that organic contaminants and microplastics in sewage sludge are largely destroyed, resulting in a safe product. This is a response to the EU’s decision to exclude sewage sludge from inputs to “Pyrolysis and gasification materials” used in fertilising products (EU Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS criteria) and the European Commission JRC STRUBIAS report (DOI see page 138) which “recommends that the scientific knowledge base be further developed in order to demonstrate that the use of EU fertilising products derived from (specific) pyrolysis & gasification materials does not present an unacceptable risk”. The review identifies 20 studies with data on over 100 different organic pollutants: over 50 different pharmaceuticals, PFAS, several organic consumer chemicals, dioxins, PCBs, PAHs, hydrocarbons, hormones, antibiotic resistance genes (ABRs), microplastics. This data shows that pyrolysis at 500°C (and in some cases also at lower temperatures) reduces levels of nearly all of these contaminants by >99%. In many cases, such as for microplastics or PFAS, contaminants were reduced below detection limits. Pharmaceuticals were mostly reduced by >99% to non-detectable levels. The authors note that in some cases, the organic contaminants may be not eliminated but transferred to the vapor phase. However, modern pyrolysis installations include higher temperature post-combustion, to recover energy and this will eliminate such contaminants and prevent environmental contamination.

A previous paper (2020) shows that doping sewage sludge with potassium salts before pyrolysis significantly improves the plant availability of phosphorus in biochar, as well as providing potassium to plants.

“Unlocking the Fertilizer Potential of Waste-Derived Biochar”, W. Buss et al., ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2020, 8, 12295−12303, DOI.

“Pyrolysis Solves the Issue of Organic Contaminants in Sewage Sludge while Retaining CarbonMaking the Case for Sewage Sludge Treatment via Pyrolysis”, W. Buss, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2021 DOI.

 

 

Struvite effective fertiliser for alfalfa, Manitoba, Canada

Recovered struvite (Ostara) improved alfalfa productivity in the field (clay soil, low phosphorus Olsen P 2.6, pH 8.1). No nitrogen fertiliser was applied (alfalfa is a nitrogen-fixing legume) to simulate Organic Farming. In the 3-year field trial, struvite increased forage shoot growth biomass and shoot P concentration, with increased effect in the second and third years, despite application of struvite only in the first year. Fertiliser P-recovery was c. 26% after three years. Pot trials were also carried out with alfalfa, comparing struvite to mono ammonium phosphate (MAP) in soil with Olsen P 10 pH 7.1 and Olsen P 6 pH 8.0. In the pot trials, alfalfa response to both struvite and MAP only showed at the highest application rate in the neutral soil (in this case, struvite gave similar results to MAP) and not at all in the alkaline soil, suggesting that alfalfa had sufficient P available in these soils. The authors conclude that recovered struvite is an effective P source for Organically grown alfalfa and so could help alleviate P deficits in Organic Farm systems reliant on biological nitrogen fixation.

“Efficacy of struvite as a phosphorus source for alfalfa in organic cropping systems”, J. Thiessen Martens et al., EGU21-8078 LINK. This study was supported by Ostara.

 

Recycled P for Canada’s Organic farming

Review concludes that Organic farm systems are often P-deficient and recycled nutrients could help address this, e.g. insect frass (from processing food waste), struvite from municipal wastewater or food waste digestate. Several cited references show that Organic farms tend to be phosphorus deficient, especially when relying on BNF = Biological Nitrogen Fixation. (Welsh 2009, Reimer 2020 – see ESPP eNews n°49, Entz 2001, Knight 2010, Gosling 2005. ESPP note: also Ohm 2017). Insect frass (waste from insect production) from insects fed food waste and food waste digestate are both approved for Organic farming in Canada. Struvite from livestock manure or from plant wastes is approved, but not struvite from sewage. Several studies cited show that insect frass can be an effective fertiliser (although high doses may inhibit plants, possibly because of ammonium levels), but further research is needed into frass from insects fed other materials. Food waste digestates have also been shown to be effective fertilisers, with improvement possible by post-digestion processing. Many studies show the fertiliser effectiveness of struvite. The Canadian population generates c. 3 million tonnes P / year in human waste and food waste, i.e. only c. 8% of Canada’s P-fertiliser imports (whereas sewage alone represents 50 – 60% of Europe’s P-fertiliser imports). However, this potential for recycled P is considerably greater than current needs of Canada’s Organic Farms, but with the need to redistribute from populated to agricultural regions. The authors conclude that incorporating recycled nutrients into agriculture is essential for food security and sustainability and could contribute to ameliorating phosphorus deficiencies in Organic Farming. Barriers to uptake by Organic farmers are likely to be supply availability of recycled fertilisers, logistics / transport and cost.

“Recycled Nutrients as a Phosphorus Source for Canadian Organic Agriculture: A perspective.”, J. Nicksy & M. Entz, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 2021,  DOI.

 

Struvite tested for use in hydroponics

Lab tests show that struvite is an effective fertiliser for use in hydroponics, applied as granules in the perlite substrate for French beans. The struvite used was Suez PhosCareTM PhosphogreenTM from Aarhusvand A/S municipal sewage works, Denmark (see SCOPE Newsletter n°125), as granules 0.5 – 1.5 mm diameter. Because struvite has a low water solubility, it does not directly dissolve into the hydroponic nutrient solution, so it was mixed with perlite in a perforated plastic bag (holes < 1 mm), into which the beans were planted (as 14-day old seedlings) and grown for nearly 10 weeks. Prior validation tests showed that the perforated bag did not impact bean crop production. Struvite was tested at various rates ranging from 1 to 20 g of struvite per plant and compared to soluble mineral P fertilizer in the hydroponic nutrient solution. The pH of the hydroponic solution in the struvite tests was approximately 7. Results show that struvite at > 5 g/plant resulted in better initial plant growth than the dissolved mineral P fertilizer, as well as higher bean crop yield and considerably lower P losses to the hydroponic leachate (nearly 70% of the dissolved mineral P fertilizer was lost to leachate). The authors suggest that the higher initial growth may be related to the ammonia N content of the struvite (released as needed by the plants). The authors conclude that these tests show that struvite granules are a potentially effective P fertilizer for hydroponics.

In a previous study, also using struvite similarly for bean tests, nitrogen in the hydroponic nutrient solution was substituted by rhizobium inoculation. This led to a 50 – 60 % bean yield reduction although the combination of both struvite and rhizobium seemed to be compatible and promising for further research.

“Recovered phosphorus for a more resilient urban agriculture: Assessment of the fertilizer potential of struvite in hydroponics”, V. Arcas-Pilz et al., Science of the Total Environment 799 (2021) 149424 DOI.

“Assessing the environmental behavior of alternative fertigation methods in soilless systems: The case of Phaseolus vulgaris with struvite and

rhizobia inoculation”, V. Arcas-Pilz et al., Science of the Total Environment 770 (2021) 144744 DOI.

 

Lab tests of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA) in fertiliser production

In lab tests, 25% of phosphate rock was substituted by SSIA in superphosphate production, showing no difference in fertiliser effectiveness in maize pot trials and no impact on heavy metal levels in the plant. The sludge ash was from the Sülzle Kopf gasification process and had total P of 9.9%, compared to 11.8% P in the phosphate rock used (sedimentary, Israel). The P in this SSIA was identified as (for the crystalline part) mainly Ca3Mg3(PO4)2, whereas the authors suggest that P in SSIA is generally mainly whitlockite Ca3(PO4)2 or similar (based on Donatello et al. 2013). Superphosphate was produced by dissolving either 100% phosphate rock, or 75% rock + 25% SSIA, in 95% sulphuric acid. The superphosphate using 25% SSIA showed slightly higher cadmium and nickel levels compared to that from phosphate rock only, slightly lower chromium, significantly higher lead and very much higher (order of magnitude) copper and zinc. 10-week pot trials with maize, in a low-P soil, pH 5.2, tested the two superphosphates, struvite (Stuttgart process), the SSIA, the phosphate rock and a control (no P fertiliser). The pot trials showed the highest maize biomass production with struvite, high and the same between the two superphosphates, but significantly lower with rock phosphate and even lower with sewage sludge incineration ash (c. 25% of biomass produced with superphosphates or struvite). None of the heavy metals were significantly different with superphosphate using SSIA (or struvite) compared to superphosphate from rock. The authors hypothesise that significant inputs over the long term of SSIA replacing phosphate rock in fertiliser production could decrease the solid / soil solution partitioning of copper, nickel and lead.

“Producing Superphosphate with Sewage Sludge Ash: Assessment of Phosphorus Availability and Potential Toxic Element Contamination”, Y. You et al., Agronomy 2021, 11, 1506, DOI.

Review of fertiliser value of sewage sludge incineration ash (SSIA)

Based on over 200 references, the authors conclude that SSIA offers significant potential for P-recovery but is highly variable, showing inconsistent results when used directly as a fertiliser, and contains contaminants. Useful collated data is provided on SSIA particle size, surface area, phosphorus content, chemical form of phosphorus in SSIA and contents of other elements and of contaminants. Variations confirm that SSIA is specific to each sewage treatment works. Fourteen studies of agricultural land application of SSIA are listed. Several of these studies showed that plant biomass or P uptake was higher with SSIA than with no added phosphorus (control), but this was often with P loadings higher than agronomic requirements. SSIA generally shows very considerably lower fertiliser effectiveness than mineral P fertiliser. Cases are recorded of crop uptake of copper and zinc when SSIA was applied. The authors conclude that more research is needed into possible fertiliser value of SSIA, untreated and after chemical / heat treatments.

“Land application of sewage sludge incinerator ash for phosphorus recovery: A review”, P. Ma, C. Rosen, Chemosphere 274 (2021) 129609 DOI.

 

Pot trials of P-fertiliser from digestates

A precipitated phosphate salt from manure + energy crop digestate liquid fraction, and dried solid fraction (40°C, 120°C) were tested in 50-day pot trials with maize. Two different soils were tested: silty loam subsoil, nutrient poor, low biological activity, pH 7.3 and clay loam agricultural top soil, pH 7.4. The phosphate salt was recovered by acidification (sulphuric acid, to release phosphorus to soluble orthophosphate) then sodium hydroxide addition, and was a mixture of calcium and magnesium phosphates. In the top soil, the precipitated P salt showed fertiliser effectiveness (increased maize dry matter), slightly higher than with mineral P fertiliser (triple super phosphate TSP). In the biologically inactive subsoil, the P-salt alone was less effective than TSP, but P-salt plus dried digestate was in some cases as effective. The dried digestates alone showed lower fertiliser effectiveness than TSP in this short-duration pot trial.

“Efficiency of Recycled Biogas Digestates as Phosphorus Fertilizers for Maize”, I-M. Bach et al., Agriculture 2021, 11, 553, DOI.

 

Possibilities for P-recycling from baby nappies

The quantity potential (case of Australia), possible technologies and needed changes to disposable nappy design and management for phosphorus recycling are reviewed. For Australia, with a population of just over 25 million, the study estimates that total P in human urine and excreta is around 13 million tonnes P / year, of which c. 3 MtP/y goes to disposable baby nappies and is currently lost in solid waste disposal. Nearly 25 publications on nappy recycling are assessed, including composting, pyrolysis, energy recovery, recovery of fibres or polymers or use as a fibre additive in concrete. Of these, only the composting routes (and potentially pyrolysis biochar production) reuse the phosphorus and nutrients, plus one study of nutrient solution extraction (Nobel & Han 2020, see below). The authors note that nutrient recovery from disposable nappies requires redesign for sustainability of the nappy product and the use cycle, for example nappies with two separable layers, with the absorbing layer biodegradable, separate collection and processing logistics.

Nobel & Han (2020) tested at the lab scale extraction of nutrients from used disposable nappies by shredding, then using sodium hydroxide to dissolve cellulose fibres (c. 15% of unused diaper weight) and super absorbent polymers (c. 30%) and release nutrients to solution, then neutralisation using nitric acid, and finally sterilisation to remove possible pathogens. This study notes that around 65% of mass of used diapers is water. A concentration of 1 molar or higher sodium hydroxide showed to be necessary.

“Phosphorus circular economy of disposable baby nappy waste: Quantification, assessment of recycling technologies and plan for sustainability”, R. Chowdhury et al., Science of the Total Environment 799 (2021) 149339, DOI.

“Method for nutrient solution extraction from used diposed diapers.”, B. Nobel & S. Han, SJ. Energy Eng. 29 (3), 34–41, 2020, DOI, PDF.

 

Climate change and plant P uptake

Meta-analysis suggests drought events may decrease soil phosphatase activity (needed for plant P uptake from organic molecules), CO2 increase and N fertilisation may increase activity, with no significant effect noted for warming. Over 610 data measurements were analysed, in each case including sample sizes and standard deviations, and covering both acid and alkaline phosphatases (phosphomonoesterases), from 97 publications. 50 data pairs for nitrogen fertilisation showed that increased N led to increased phosphatase activity (to be expected, as phosphatase production consumes N) whereas increased P fertilisation decreased activity (24 pairs, also to be expected, as P-uptake from organic forms is less necessary). Also N fertilisation often reduces soil pH, so is likely to cause a shift from alkaline to acid phosphatases. Elevated CO2 led to a small increase in soil phosphatase activity (105 data pairs), whereas warming had no significant impact (51 pairs). Drought episodes, an expected consequence of climate change in many regions, clearly reduced soil phosphatase activity (56 data pairs), particularly of acid phosphatase in Mediterranean regions, and also temperature and subtropical forests. Water content of soil is known to be a very important factor favouring plant P-uptake. Drying may however increase enzymatic activity in wetlands and organic soils. Presence of invasive species led to increased phosphatase activity (49 data pairs). Overall, this meta-analysis confirms that climate change is likely to significantly modify plant and crop P-uptake, in particular because of changes in soil humidity (see also SCOPE Newsletter n°137).

“The effect of global change on soil phosphatase activity”, O. Margalef et al., Global Change Biology, 2021, DOI.

 

Plant phosphorus in diet causes health problems

Tests with rats and humans show that phytate, the main form of P in seeds (cereals, nuts, legumes …), is digestible (normal calcium diet), with high levels causing P-related health problems such as kidney crystals and bone loss. Phytate is often considered to be non-digestible by mono-gastric animals, because it binds to minerals such as Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn (see SCOPE Newsletter n°78). This means that high phytate diets can cause health problems by inhibiting uptake of these essential minerals. Dietary phytate can however also be beneficial because it inhibits hydrolysis (and so uptake) of lipids, proteins, sugars and starch. In this work, rats were fed for 12 weeks feed with 0% to 5% added phytate (i.e. 0 – 1.4 % added phosphorus. The standard AIN-93G rat diet used contains 0.5% phytate (and total 0.3 % phosphorus). Rats fed +5% phytate and standard diet level calcium showed decreased blood calcium levels and high blood phosphorus and magnesium and developed crystal nephropathies, kidney fibrosis and severe bone loss, both symptoms associated with excess diet P. However, increasing the diet calcium for the rats (+1% Ca) prevented these mineral unbalances and negative impacts. A 12-day pilot study was also carried out on six healthy women (23-34 years) with 4 days white rice (0.35% phytate), 4 days brown rice (1.07% phytate) and 4 days brown rice + bran (2.18% phytate). Blood P, Ca and Mg remained within normal levels for all three diets, but the higher phytate diet did result in slightly decreased blood phosphorus. The authors conclude that phytate is digestible by monogastric animals when the diet calcium/phytate ratio is low.

“High-phytate/low-calcium diet is a risk factor for crystal nephropathies, renal phosphate wasting, and bone loss”, O-H. Kim et al., eLife 2020; 9:e52709, DOI.

 

 

Erratum

 

Global peatlands phosphorus and carbon

In our eNews n°56, We summarised an article by D. Schillereff et al., under the eNews title “Will atmospheric P deposition significantly impact peat bog carbon storage?”. In our summary, we stated “Mid-latitude peatlands are estimated to hold 0.23 Gt of carbon (1.7% of global soil carbon)”. This should read “Mid-latitude peatlands are estimated to hold 0.23 Gt of phosphorus (1.7% of global soil phosphorus)”.

 

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ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

Other events
Nutrient Platforms members’ meeting: P-recovery implementation update
DPP Forum (German Phosphorus Platform)
Hamburg Wasser – EWA – VSA online workshop on P-recovery
Phos4You Final Conference
Call for papers
Call for abstracts

Policy
EU workshop on End-of-Waste criteria
EU “Fit for 55” package proposes Carbon Border Tax on nitrogen fertilisers
French public health study calls for action on cadmium exposure
Consultation on draft standards on wastewater treatment data and P-removal
ESPP input to EU consultation on urban wastewater treatment Directive
US Senate proposes agriculture carbon credit scheme

Eutrophication
Turkey’s Marmara coast hit by “sea snot”
UNESCO says Great Barrier Reef in danger

EU Fertilising Products Regulation
STRUBIAS criteria in publication process, translations proposed
Update on cadmium limits in Member States

P-recovery
P4 project obtains EU funding
Inventory of operating phosphorus recovery and /or recycling facilities

Research
N and P inputs cause declines in invertebrates
Sewerage piping leaks could cause 20% of wastewater P loads to the environment
Societal cost-benefit of P reductions to Lake Champlain, Vermont
US dietary phosphorus intake increasing

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

ESPC4 and PERM5, Vienna, 20-22 June 2022

The 4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4) will be the biggest phosphorus stakeholder meeting globally for four years (since ESPC3 Helsinki, which brought together nearly 300 participants from 30 countries, see SCOPE Newsletter n°127).

ESPC4, Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June 2022, will be followed by PERM5, the 5th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting, Wednesday 22nd June 2022 (summary of PERM4, June 2021, online, coming soon here).

ESPC4 was Covid-cancelled from 2020, and so in 2022 Vienna will offer the first major opportunity “after” - hopefully - the pandemic, for Europe and the world’s phosphorus community to come together (industry, policy makers, scientists).

We know from past months that distance meetings can be effective whilst saving time and miles, and international travel may still be difficult in 2022, so ESPC4 - PERM5 will be both physical and accessible online.

For the 400 participants expected in Vienna, a strong accent will be on networking and meeting one-another, facilitated by time in the programme, space and rooms at the venue and use of an event app with a Chat function (integrating with the online Chat). This will enable direct personal contacts through discussion and questions and the possibility to make contact with and propose meetings with other participants in Vienna.

ESPC4 will particularly address:

  • The current major developments in EU policy on nutrients: Green Deal target of 50% reduced nutrient losses by 2030, revision of wastewater and sludge Directives, Circular Economy Action Plan, Critical Raw Materials, Horizon Europe and the ‘Soil Health and Food’ Mission, the EU Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan;
  • Update on full-scale roll-out of phosphorus recovery as Germany’s and Switzerland’s P-recovery regulations move towards implementation;
  • Regional, city and national phosphorus sustainability initiatives
  • Climate change and phosphorus management: consequences of climate change on phosphorus losses and eutrophication, impacts of nutrients and eutrophication on greenhouse gas emissions

PERM5 will discuss EU funding perspectives and industry needs for nutrient management R&D, with the emphasis on discussion and networking (PERM5 will be also accessible online). PERM5 will be followed (tbc) by a get-to-know and social session for nutrient-related Marie Curie projects and other nutrient research and young scientist networks.

A new call for abstracts will be announced for ESPC4 in September and papers already accepted in 2020 will be reconsidered.

ESPC4 and PERM5 webpage: https://phosphorusplatform.eu/espc4

 

 

Other events

 

Nutrient Platforms members’ meeting: P-recovery implementation update

Tuesday 31st August, online. Webinar open to members of nutrient platforms only (ESPP, German Phosphorus Platform, Netherlands Nutrient Platform, Nutricycle Vlaanderen, Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance North America, plus BSAG, UKWIR) will give an update on nutrient project actions and nutrient platform projects under development, and will provide information on implementation of the German and Swiss phosphorus recovery regulations.

Tuesday 31st August, 16h-18h30 CEST (Paris- Brussels time) – registration information from the nutrient platforms.

 

DPP Forum (German Phosphorus Platform)

9th September Frankfurt-am-Main and online. Bringing recycled phosphates to the market. In German

Programme and registration here.

 

Hamburg Wasser – EWA – VSA online workshop on P-recovery

21st September 10h30-13h00, online broadcast from the Remondis P-recovery plant, Hamburg, Germany: first full-scale operational experience of P-recovery in Hamburg, update on P-recovery in Switzerland, etc. The event is organised by Hamburg Wasser (city-owned municipal water company), with EWA (European Water Association, a water profession association with members across much of Europe) and input from VSA (Swiss Association of Water Protection Professionals)

Registration here.

 

Phos4You Final Conference

22 – 23 September, Essen, Germany, and online, presentation of Phos4You (InterReg) project outcomes, presentations of trials of P-recovery technologies, regulatory developments, LCA aspects. With European Commission DG GROW and DG AGRI and InterReg Secretariat. Technologies presented will be: EuPhoRe, bioacidification & STRUVIA struvite, PULSE (Liège University), Parforce, Filtraflo (crab carapace P-adsorption), micro-algae.

Phos4You website for programme etc. Registration here.

 

 

Call for papers

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems - Special Issue “Use of 15N tracers to study nitrogen flows in agro-ecosystems: transformation, losses and plant uptake”. This special issue welcomes review and research papers, including modelling studies and short communications, on 15N tracer studies on nitrogen flows in agro-ecosystems. Guest editors: Clemens Scheer and Tobias Rütting. Submissions close on 28 February 2022.

https://www.springer.com/journal/10705/updates/19175738

 

Call for abstracts

24-25 November, ManuResource Conference, the International Conference on Manure Management and Valorisaton, Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. The conference is offering (26th November) site visits to  including Eco-Energy (manure anaerobic digestion) in Oirschot and Ecoson (manure and food waste to biofuels, methanisation and organic phosphate fertilser pellets) in Son. Abstract submission deadline: 1st September 2021
https://www.vcm-mestverwerking.be/en/manuresource/23023/call-for-abstracts

 

 

Policy

 

EU workshop on End-of-Waste criteria

The European Commission (JRC) has announced a stakeholder workshop to discuss which materials streams should be on a priority list for definition of European End-of-Waste Criteria. ESPP submitted at the start of May 2021 a joint letter, signed by over 120 companies and organisations, requesting that certain material streams recovered from waste water be considered for this priority list. (This does not concern recovered materials used in fertilising products, for which the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 provides a process for defining End-of-Waste status). Eureau, AquaPublica, ESPP and other organisations are now mandating an expert to provide further information on these material streams to support this request. The material streams suggested by JRC for discussion at this workshop include “biological materials” and it is not today clear whether materials from wastewater may be considered under this title.

European Commission JRC stakeholder workshop “Scoping and developing further End-of-Waste (EoW) and By-Product (BP) criteria”, online, 14-15 September 2021. Participation of organisations selected by the European Commission only. To candidate to participate: contact before 30th July 2021.

Twitter #EoW4WWStreams

 

 

EU “Fit for 55” package proposes Carbon Border Tax on nitrogen fertilisers

European Commission proposes regulatory package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by -55% to 2030, including actions on agriculture and land use, and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) for nitrogen fertilisers. The Green Deal “Fit for 55” published (14th July 2021) is a detailed regulatory package, intending to “transform the economy” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including proposals on transports, including road and aviation fuel taxes and banning sales of greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting cars by 2035, energy efficiency and changes to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The package includes a proposal to avoid ‘carbon leakage’ by putting a carbon price on imports of certain goods (Cross Border Adjustment Mechanism CBAM), starting with cement, iron and steel, aluminium, electricity and (nitrogen) fertilisers. The proposed CBAM Regulation (Com(2021)564) proposes the border carbon tax on N, N+P, N+K and NPK mineral/chemical fertilisers, noting that the “difference in emission intensities of EU and non-EU producers is particularly high for fertilisers”. Mineral phosphorus fertilisers are not concerned if not containing nitrogen. Fertilizers Europe has expressed support in principle for the CBAM on fertilisers: Jacob Hansen, Director General, 11th March 2021Fertilizers Europe …  recognises that to raise EU’s ambition on climate while avoiding carbon leakage, the EU must put a carbon border measure in place to ensure an international level playing field”.

The proposed Regulation on Climate-Neutral Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture (COM(2021)504) proposes to implement binding targets for Member States for net carbon removal in land use and aims to make food and biomass production climate neutral by 2035, in particular citing livestock and fertiliser use. The proposal indicates inclusion of greenhouse emissions related to “nitrogen leaching and run-off” but does not specify how such nitrogen losses are calculated to relate to greenhouse emissions.

Raw materials and nutrients are otherwise absent from the “Fit for 55” package, which addresses principally energy. This is coherent in that nutrients are strongly addressed elsewhere under the Green Deal Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity packages, see SCOPE Newsletter n°139.

NGOs are critical of the “Fit for 55” package, suggesting that it is insufficiently ambitious, criticising the absence of sector-specific emissions reduction targets, exclusion of heavy industry and agriculture from ETS and continuing subsidies to fossil fuels.

European Commission press release, 14th July 2021 IP_21_3541) “European Green Deal: Commission proposes transformation of EU economy and society to meet climate ambitions” https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_3541

Fertilizers Europe press release 11th March 2021
European Environment Bureau “EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ is unfit and unfair”, 14th July 2021.

 

French public health study calls for action on cadmium exposure

Wide media coverage points to “contamination of nearly the whole French population, including children, by heavy metals”, and says breakfast cereals are the main source of cadmium, because of phosphate fertilisers. The documents published by Public Health France are less directly accusatory, but do state that cadmium levels in the French population increased from 2006-2007 to 2014-2016 and are higher than in other European countries or North America. The official website states that breakfast cereals increase cadmium levels in children, with fish, shellfish and smoking being important other sources for adults. Nearly half the French population show cadmium levels higher than that recommended by the French national health and environment agency ANSES. The official study report (ESTEBAN) indicates that in 2019 this agency (ANSES) recommended to reduce population exposure to cadmium, in particular in mineral phosphate fertiliser and organic soil amendments such as sewage biosolids. The ESTEBAN report quotes INERIS 2017  “reduction of cadmium in fertilisers seems to meet economic rather than technical obstacles”.

Nouvelle République 5/7/21 (article published widely across France) here and Le Monde here.

SantéPubliqueFrance press release 1/7/2021 here.

ESTEBAN (French national biosurveillance) report “Impregnation of the French population by cadmium”, July 2021 here and press release 1/7/2021 here.

 

Consultation on draft standards on wastewater treatment data and P-removal

Proposed new EU (CEN) standards are published and open to comment, for wastewater treatment plants: chemical phosphorus precipitation and general data requirements. prEN 12255-13 covers “chemical treatment of wastewater by precipitation/flocculation for removal of phosphorus and suspended solids”. It defines terms such as “coagulant”, “tertiary treatment”, “precipitant”. The standard indicates that P-total discharge limits “typically range from 2 mg/l down to 0.25 mg/”. The standard provides guidance for design, chemical process options, selection of precipitation chemicals, storage – preparation and dosing of chemicals, mixing, control systems, reactor - sedimentation and filtration systems, and sludge production. prEN 12255-11 covers data necessary for planning, design, construction, compliance testing, etc. of wastewater treatment plants.

Both standards are now published as drafts, and comments can be input via national standards organisations.

As usual for CEN standards, the draft texts are not freely available, and prices vary depending on different national standards body website. Texts of both standards can be purchased for a total of 9.75€ from the Estonia standards organisation www.evs.ee

 

 

ESPP input to EU consultation on urban wastewater treatment Directive

ESPP underlines the need to better protect nutrient ‘Sensitive Areas’, to integrate reuse and recovery of nutrients, and to address contaminants in sewage at source. ESPP welcomes the recognition that eutrophication remains a major challenge to be addressed, including storm overflows, agglomerations < 2 000 p.e. and “IAS” (autonomous wastewater treatment, septic tanks), and underlines that eutrophication problems will be accentuated by climate change (see SCOPE Newsletter n°137). ESPP suggests that nutrient recovery objectives should be integrated into the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, in line with the Circular Economy Action Plan, and that this should include both “recovery” and “reuse” of both phosphorus and nitrogen, underlining that sewage sludge should be managed to ensure safety (risks from contaminants, antibiotic resistance) and that sludge should be used in such a sway that account is taken of crop nutrient requirements.

ESPP input to the public consultation on the revision of the Urban Waste water Treatment Directive here.

The EU public consultation on the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive is open until 21st July 2021 HERE.

 

US Senate proposes agriculture carbon credit scheme

The draft Growing Climate Solutions Bill would (if passed by the House of Representatives and then enacted) establish a Certification Scheme for farms mitigating greenhouse gas emissions or capturing carbon. The objective is to ensure a recognised and transparent certification scheme, through USDA (US Department of Agriculture), thus facilitating farmer access to possible private carbon credit markets. The bi-partisan Bill was adopted by a large majority (92-8) on 24th June 2021 in the US Senate and must now go to the House of Representatives.

US Senate Growing Climate Solutions Bill S.1251

For information, Australia’s ”Emissions Reduction Fund” (ERF) already includes vegetation management and agriculture

 

Eutrophication

 

Turkey’s Marmara coast hit by “sea snot”

Marine mucilage has covered the Marmora Sea, caused by nutrient inputs and accentuated by climate warming. The mucilage layer is up to 30m and is damaging tourism and fishing, killing fish and can harbour pathogens. “Sea snot”, or mucilage is a slimy, gelatinous material produced by marine algae in eutrophic conditions, and also affects the Aegean Sea off Greece. Mucilage caused major problems on Italy’s Adriatic Coast in the 1990’s, largely resolved when wastewater collection and nutrient removal was implemented. The mucilage event around Istanbul is thought to be the biggest ever recorded. By late June, Turkish sea cleaning teams operating at over 200 locations had already collected 6 000 tonnes of mucilage.

Mucilage kills fish, shellfish and sea stars, by starving the water of oxygen and by suffocating fish eggs which are usually close to the surface.

25 million people live around the Marmara Sea, including 15 million in the Istanbul area. Turkey’s Government has recognised that the problem is largely caused by untreated or inadequately treated sewage and has announced that all existing sewage works will be upgraded to advanced biological treatment (currently over half undergoes primary treatment only). The Government says that, after emergency inspections, over half of the 445 wastewater treatment plants discharging into the Marmara do not need upgrade but over 140 need revision, maintenance or complete rebuild. The Government’s emergency plan will also prevent ships from discharging wastewater into the Marmara Sea, create artificial wetlands and buffers, and support farmers who switch to modern irrigation systems and instigate zero waste policies. A fertiliser factory discharging into the Marmara has been temporarily closed. Scientists however note that the Danube and Dnieper rivers also carry large pollution and nutrient loads from upstream into the Marmara, and should be addressed.

“Ministry unveils action plan to tackle the sea snot problem in Marmara”, 7th June 2021

“Authorities take concrete steps to save mucilage-covered Marmara Sea”, 15th June 2021

“Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum attended the Mucilage Coordination Board Meeting”, 14th July 2021

 

UNESCO says Great Barrier Reef in danger

A UNESCO report to its World Heritage Committee suggests that the Barrier Reef should be put on the list of site “in danger” because of climate change, water quality and land use. The main factor leading to deterioration of the Reef and recent massive coral bleaching events is water temperature increase, because of climate change, but water quality and land use are also cited, because of nutrients (in particular, dissolved organic nitrogen) and sediments. Australia has strongly criticised the proposed UNESCO decision, fearing impacts on tourism, despite its own 2019 5-year report downgrading the Reef from poor to very poor. NGOs and scientists say that Australia is failing on climate change, with its consistent refusal to commit to zero emissions by 2050. UNESCO first debated “in danger” status for the Reef in 2017, leading Australia to engage a 2 billion € action plan. This has been effective in reducing nutrients, but UNESCO says action is too slow and that climate change is not addressed.

UNESCO report draft decision, World Heritage WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add, 21st June 2021

“Unesco: Great Barrier Reef should be listed as 'in danger' “, BBC News 22nd June 2021.

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation

 

STRUBIAS criteria in publication process, translations proposed

The EU has made public finalised EU Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS criteria (struvites and precipitated phosphates, ash based products, pyrolysis and biochars). Translations are also underway (comment possible). This is the final phase before formal adoption of these criteria, which will enable them to be applicable when the new Fertilising Products Regulation enters into implementation in July 2022. The EU has also published translations of the precipitated phosphates and ash-based materials criteria, and comment is possible on these (only on the correspondence of the translation to the English text, not on the criteria themselves).

Finalised criteria texts in English and (draft) translations

Precipitated phosphate salts and derivates

Thermal oxidation materials and derivates

Pyrolysis and gasification materials

 

Update on cadmium limits in Member States

Three further Member States have recently obtained derogations allowing to maintain lower national cadmium limits in EU fertilisers than those currently fixed by the EU Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) when it enters into implementation in July 2022.

These new derogations maintain lower limits already existing in these countries: Denmark (COM decision 2020/1178) = equivalent to 48 mgCd/kgP2O5, Hungary (COM decision 2020/1184) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5 and Slovak Republic (COM decision 2020/1205) = 20 mgCd/kgP2O5. The FPR (art. 3.2) also maintains derogations for lower limits which had been previously been granted: Austria (COM decision 2006/D0349 = 75 mgCd/kgP2O5, but which will become irrelevant in July 2022 because higher than the FPR limit), Finland (COM decision 2006/D0348 = 50 mgCd/kgP2O5) and Sweden (COM decision 2012/D0719 = equivalent to 20 mgCd/kgP2O5). A derogation previously requested by the Czech Republic was never granted (2006/D0390 = 50 mgCd/kgP2O5),

The FPR fixes a limit of 60 mgCd/kgP2O5 for phosphate fertilisers (organic and inorganic), with the provision that before July 2026 the European Commission will prepare a report assessing the feasibility of reducing this limit, taking into account evidence on cadmium exposure and environmental accumulation, etc.

Member States can also request to maintain existing lower limits for EU fertilisers sold on their territory (implemented through the derogations cited above) or fix new lower limits for EU fertilisers sold on their territory “based on new scientific evidence relating to the protection of the environment or the working environment on grounds of a problem specific to that Member State arising after the adoption of this Regulation”. The FPR maintains “optional harmonisation”, meaning that Member States can fix higher or lower cadmium limits, or have no cadmium limits, for “national” fertilisers (these are not regulated by the FPR).

  

 

P-recovery

 

P4 project obtains EU funding

The EU (Horizon 2020) will provide nearly 12 M€ to the FlashPhos project, led by University of Stuttgart, to develop thermo-chemical production of P4 (white phosphorus) from sewage sludge. FlashPhos is based on different technologies of project partners will develop and unify to best standards. The process will be integrated into existing industrial infrastructure (cement plants). Dewatered sewage sludge, or other organic wastes containing phosphorus, are dried and ground, then flash gasified at high temperatures with CaO (lime). The objective is to produce P4 (elemental white phosphorus), a specific form of phosphorus of high value and which is itself an EU Critical Raw Material (see SCOPE Newsletter n°136), in the EU and for which Europe is dependent on a handful suppliers from outside Europe, and which is essential for e.g. electronics, food additives, catalysts and production of a wide range of strategic organic phosphorus chemicals (flame retardants, water treatment, lubricants etc). The FlashPhos process claims to also produce a cement material and a valorisable iron metal alloy (so recovering iron salts used in wastewater phosphorus removal). The FlashPhos project will construct and test a c. 2 tonnes/day dry matter input pilot plant. Partners include ESPP member Italmatch as well as cement industry, plant manufacturers and industrial planners and consultants.

FlashPhos presentation at ESPP’s PERM4 meeting, 2nd June 2021.

Project summary on EU CORDIS website.
University of Stuttgart press release 7th June 2021.

 

 

Inventory of operating phosphorus recovery and /or recycling facilities

Christian Kabbe (P-REX Environment) has produced an updated list of full-scale P -recovery / -recycling installations, worldwide, in operation today or under construction at or downstream of wastewater treatment facilities. The list indicates nearly 120 installations, specifying the technology supplier, the location, operating since, the recovered phosphate material/product and the annual tonnage of product output.

Table online on ESPP’s website (with permission).

Information on installations missing from this table, or corrections or updates are welcome: to

 

 

 

Research

 

N and P inputs cause declines in invertebrates

A meta-analysis of over 200 nutrient enrichment studies shows that combined N+P inputs result in lower invertebrate numbers, concluding that nutrients may contribute to global invertebrate decline. The authors assessed 1 679 cases from 207 nutrient addition studies (screened from 7 348 identified by literature search). 88% of cases were temperate (12% tropical), 75% were terrestrial and 25% aquatic (of which nearly 90% freshwater).

N (and N+P) addition significantly reduced invertebrate abundance in terrestrial habitats (P input did not), whereas N+P (and probably P) significantly reduced abundance in aquatic habitats. Impacts were stronger in tropical than in temperate habitats. Results were robust for insects, zooplankton, arachnids, collembola and nematodes.

Results for invertebrate biomass were somewhat different and P significantly increased invertebrate biomass in aquatic habitats.

Results for invertebrate diversity showed no identifiable impacts, possibly because of insufficient study data.

The authors conclude that N+P inputs (together) consistently and significantly reduce invertebrate abundance both in terrestrial and aquatic environments, and suggest that anthropogenic nutrient enrichment may be a driver of the documented global invertebrate decline.

“Nitrogen and phosphorus enrichment cause declines in invertebrate populations: a global meta-analysis”, M. Nessel et al., Biological Reviews 2021 Biol. Rev. (2021), https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/brv.12771

 

Sewerage piping leaks could cause 20% of wastewater P loads to the environment

A study in Germany suggests that sewerage exfiltration today may account for 10% and 17% of environmental N and P loads from municipal wastewaters, rising to 11% and 20% if sewer remediation work is not undertaken. The study is based on data from over 11 000 municipalities across Germany and uses a combination of modelling (MONERIS Modelling of Nutrient Emissions in River Systems), data on connected populations and estimated pollution loads, upscaling of results from ten leakage studies on 4 German cities, and expert opinion. The average national sewerage wastewater loss is estimated at 2% of inflow sewage. The results are for the whole German public sewerage pipe system (450 000 km of pipes) and also private pipes (e.g. from house to public sewer) which are estimated to total 1.1 million km. The authors note the increase of leakage with sewerage pipe age and suggest that 20% of Germany’s public sewers are in need of rehabilitation of sewerage networks, especially those over 40 years old.

“Harmonized assessment of nutrient pollution from urban systems including losses from sewer exfiltration: a case study in Germany”, H. H. Nguyen & M. Venohr, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2021 DOI.

“Sewer leakage: first nationwide estimate of pollution leaking from urban systems, Germany”, European Commission ‘Science for Environment Policy’, issue 564, 6th July 2021, here.

See also Ascott et al. in SCOPE Newsletter n°119 – estimate that 1 200 tP/y leak from drinking water pipes into the environment in England + Wales.

 

Societal cost-benefit of P reductions to Lake Champlain, Vermont

A study estimates economic benefits of reducing lake phosphorus inputs, concluding that costs outweigh benefits over 35 years but benefits outweigh costs by 2100, but notes that some benefits are not accounted. The study considers the Missiquoi Bay within Lake Champlain on the Vermont – Quebec border and estimates benefits of improved water quality resulting from reduced P inputs, under different scenarios, including considering climate change impacts. Benefits estimated economically include property value (based on transaction values), tourism revenue and risk of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) caused by cyanobacteria algae. P load reduction corresponding to the current TDML limit fixed by the EPA (64% reduction) is modelled, but also reductions from 0% to 100%. If no action is taken (0% P load reduction) property sales are expected to decline by US$ 180 000 per year, tourism spending by $ 414 000 / year and ALS health impacts to increase annually by $ 90 000 / year. Cost of P-abatement is based on Vermont Agency of Administration (AoA) 2016-2019 data of 934 US$/kgP. Estimated benefit / cost ratio is around 0.4 (cost 2.5x higher than benefit) for the TDML P load reduction. The authors note that this is comparable to benefit / cost ratios estimated for other policies to reduce water pollution in the US and that, in this study, benefits are underestimated because they are calculated only for Vermont and not for the Quebec shore of the lake, do not include recreational fishing, non-ASL health benefits and non-use values of water quality, and are based on “revealed preference” values which are generally lower than “stated preference” approaches.

“Quantifying the social benefits and costs of reducing phosphorus pollution under climate change”, J. Gourevitch et al., Journal of Environmental Management 293 (2021) 112838 DOI.

 

US dietary phosphorus intake increasing

Analysis of US national nutrition survey data 1988-2016 shows increased total dietary P intake (to 1.4 gP/person/day adult average) but decreased P intake from food additives (11% of total dietary P).  The study uses NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data, comparing 1988-1994 to 2015-2016. Dietary phosphorus intakes were estimated by comparing NHANES data on what people ate, to food data bases indicating phosphorus content of different foods. For “added” phosphorus (P in phosphorus food additives), levels in different food types were calculated based on numbers from food phosphate manufacturers (IFAC), taking the average of the numbers given by IFAC as minimum and maximum levels of phosphorus food additives in different foodstuffs (differences between these two numbers were small), then multiplying by the % of products in different food categories estimated to contain P additives according to the Innova Market Insights database. Average adult total dietary P intake increased from 1.3 to 1.4 gP/person/day whereas “added” P intake decreased from 0.18 to 0.16 gP/day. The five largest contributors to natural P intake were: cheese, pizza, chicken pieces, low-fat milk and eggs. Nearly 50% of dietary intake of “added” P was from cheese (phosphorus food additives are used in processed soft cheese), soft drinks, cakes – buns – biscuits. The apparent decrease in phosphorus food additive intake may be due to lower consumption of processed foods or demand for foods without additives, or may be due to inaccurate P values in food data bases.

“Trends in Total, Added, and Natural Phosphorus Intake in Adult Americans, NHANES 1988–1994 to NHANES 2015–2016”, K. and L. Fulgoni and Victor L. Fulgoni III, Nutrients 2021, 13, 2249 DOI.

The study was funded by the food phosphate additive manufacturers, IFAC (International Food Additives Council).

 

 

Stay informed

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If you do not already receive SCOPE and eNews (same emailing list), subscribe at www.phosphorusplatform.eu/subscribe
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Slideshare presentations: www.slideshare.net/NutrientPlatform

 

ESPP members

ESPP members logos 2 2021

 

NOTE: below is ESPP’s understanding to date and may not be fully accurate. Please verify with cited source documents.

European Commission proposes regulatory package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by -55% to 2030, including actions on agriculture and land use, and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) for nitrogen fertilisers. The Green Deal “Fit for 55” published (14th July 2021) is a detailed regulatory package, intending to “transform the economy”” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including proposals on transports, including road and aviation fuel taxes and banning sales of greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting cars by 2035, energy efficiency and changes to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The package includes a proposal to avoid ‘carbon leakage’ by putting a carbon price on imports of certain goods (Cross Border Adjustment Mechanism CBAM), starting with cement, iron and steel, aluminium, electricity and (nitrogen) fertilisers. The proposed CBAM Regulation (Com(2021)564) proposes the border carbon tax on N, N+P, N+K and NPK mineral/chemical fertilisers, noting that the “difference in emission intensities of EU and non-EU producers is particularly high for fertilisers”. Mineral phosphorus fertilisers are not concerned if not containing nitrogen. Fertilizers Europe has expressed support in principle for the CBAM on fertilisers: Jacob Hansen, Director General, 11th March 2021 “Fertilizers Europe …  recognises that to raise EU’s ambition on climate while avoiding carbon leakage, the EU must put a carbon border measure in place to ensure an international level playing field”.

The proposed Regulation on Climate-Neutral Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture (COM(2021)504) proposes to implement binding targets for Member States for net carbon removal in land use and aims to make food and biomass production climate neutral by 2035, in particular citing livestock and fertiliser use. The proposal indicates inclusion of greenhouse emissions related to “nitrogen leaching and run-off” but does not specify how such nitrogen losses are calculated to relate to greenhouse emissions.

Raw materials and nutrients are otherwise absent from the “Fit for 55” package, which addresses principally energy. This is coherent in that nutrients are strongly addressed elsewhere under the Green Deal Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity packages, see SCOPE Newsletter n°139.

NGOs are critical of the “Fit for 55” package, suggesting that it is insufficiently ambitious, criticising the absence of sector-specific emissions reduction targets, exclusion of heavy industry and agriculture from ETS and continuing subsidies to fossil fuels.

European Commission press release, 14th July 2021 IP_21_3541) “European Green Deal: Commission proposes transformation of EU economy and society to meet climate ambitions” https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_3541

Fertilizers Europe press release 11th March 2021
European Environment Bureau “EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ is unfit and unfair”, 14th July 2021.

Wide media coverage points to “contamination of nearly the whole French population, including children, by heavy metals”, and says breakfast cereals are the main source of cadmium, because of phosphate fertilisers. The documents published by Public Health France are less directly accusatory, but do state that cadmium levels in the French population increased from 2006-2007 to 2014-2016 and are higher than in other European countries or North America. The official website states that breakfast cereals increase cadmium levels in children, with fish, shellfish and smoking being important other sources for adults. Nearly half the French population show cadmium levels higher than that recommended by the French national health and environment agency ANSES. The official study report (ESTEBAN) indicates that in 2019 this agency (ANSES) recommended to reduce population exposure to cadmium, in particular in mineral phosphate fertiliser and organic soil amendments such as sewage biosolids. The ESTEBAN report quotes INERIS 2017  “reduction of cadmium in fertilisers seems to meet economic rather than technical obstacles”.

Nouvelle République 5/7/21 (article published widely across France) here and Le Monde here.

SantéPubliqueFrance press release 1/7/2021 here.

ESTEBAN (French national biosurveillance) report “Impregnation of the French population by cadmium”, July 2021 here and press release 1/7/2021 here.

Proposed new EU (CEN) standards are published and open to comment, for wastewater treatment plants: chemical phosphorus precipitation and general data requirements. prEN 12255-13 covers “chemical treatment of wastewater by precipitation/flocculation for removal of phosphorus and suspended solids”. It defines terms such as “coagulant”, “tertiary treatment”, “precipitant”. The standard indicates that P-total discharge limits “typically range from 2 mg/l down to 0.25 mg/”. The standard provides guidance for design, chemical process options, selection of precipitation chemicals, storage – preparation and dosing of chemicals, mixing, control systems, reactor - sedimentation and filtration systems, and sludge production. prEN 12255-11 covers data necessary for planning, design, construction, compliance testing, etc. of wastewater treatment plants.

Both standards are now published as drafts, and comments can be input via national standards organisations.

As usual for CEN standards, the draft texts are not freely available, and prices vary depending on different national standards body website. Texts of both standards can be purchased for a total of 9.75€ from the Estonia standards organisation www.evs.ee

The European Commission (JRC) has announced a stakeholder workshop to discuss which materials streams should be on a priority list for definition of European End-of-Waste Criteria. ESPP submitted at the start of May 2021 a joint letter, signed by over 120 companies and organisations, requesting that certain material streams recovered from waste water be considered for this priority list. (This does not concern recovered materials used in fertilising products, for which the EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 provides a process for defining End-of-Waste status). Eureau, AquaPublica, ESPP and other organisations are now mandating an expert to provide further information on these material streams to support this request. The material streams suggested by JRC for discussion at this workshop include “biological materials” and it is not today clear whether materials from wastewater may be considered under this title.

European Commission JRC stakeholder workshop “Scoping and developing further End-of-Waste (EoW) and By-Product (BP) criteria”, online, 14-15 September 2021. Participation of organisations selected by the European Commission only. To candidate to participate: contact  before 30th July 2021.

Twitter: #EoW4WWStreams

Newsletter about nutrient stewardship - European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

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Link to www.phosphorusplatform.eu/eNews056
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Events
Future of Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater 2021
How to register fertilisers in different countries
PERM presentations and videos now online

ESPP new member: OCP

EU Fertilising Products Regulation
New proposals for by-products
Slow progress Animal By-Products, progress on other points
Call for data on pathogens / safety of recovered ammonia / sulphur
EU tender for study on fertiliser and mulch polymer biodegradability

Policy
European Commission takes Member States to court over sewage treatment
SYSTEMIC policy proposals to open markets for recycled nitrogen

Legacy Phosphorus
Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’
Soil P above agronomic recommendations does not increase yield
45 years of P fertilisation does not increase total soil P
Focusing only on decreasing soil P will take 26-65 years to reach environmental P targets
Initial soil P level defines maize productivity
Mineral fertiliser offers better P-balance than phosphate rock
Mineral fertiliser offers better crop yield than phosphate rock

IFA Smart&Green

Research and science
Will atmospheric P deposition significantly impact peat bog carbon storage?
Field trials of animal bone char as fertiliser
Pyrolysis reduces availability of phosphorus in poultry manure
Struvite effective fertiliser with lower P-loss risk
Global Phosphorus Institute launched

Stay informed

ESPP members

 

 

Events

Future of Phosphorus Removal in Wastewater 2021

7th July 2021, 10h30 - 16h30 CEST. Online conference will look at current status and future developments in phosphorus removal from wastewater, P-stewardship and P-recovery. Speakers include the UK Environment Agency, Isle Utilities, I-PHYC, The Rivers Trust, several UK water companies, ESPP.

https://event.wwtonline.co.uk/phosphorus/

How to register fertilisers in different countries

29th June 2021 13h-15h CEST –  free webinar organised by Fertiliser Consultants Network (FCN). Key points of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation. How to manage fertiliser registration in the transitional period 2021-2024. Specific country/regional registration: France, Greece, Romania, North Africa, India,

Programme and registration https://www.legera.eu

 


PERM presentations and videos now online

PERM thumb enews 56Speaker slides and the ‘Chat’ from the 4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM) are now online here and the video recordings of the event are available on YouTube here.

Over 370 participants took part in the 4th Phosphorus in Europe Research Meeting (PERM) 2nd June 2021 online, organised by ESPP, Biorefine and ETA. The meeting provided a showcase to policy makers and companies of R&D underway into nutrients in Europe, enabled exchange of experience between R&D projects.

PERM4 is accompanied by a full update of ESPP’s inventory of nutrient-related R&D projects now online here www.phosphorusplatform.eu/R&D  

PERM4 web page: www.phosphorusplatform.eu/PERM4

ESPP new member: OCP

OCP logo thumb enews 56OCP Group, a leading, global producer of phosphate and fertiliser, was founded in 1920 to manage Morocco’s phosphate reserves, and is today focussed on sustainable agriculture. OCP’s purpose and mission is to “maximize the positive impact of phosphorus”. The company’s Phosphate Stewardship Policy underlines its strong commitment to sustainably managing Morocco’s phosphate resource and is aligned with the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 12: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”. Sustainable phosphate management is applied across OCP’s operations and sites; through product innovation and in R&D on re-working and recycling of phosphate resources; through its work with farmers around the world and the application of customised fertilisers; and in the development of technologies at its Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. OCP is engaged in efforts to study and develop means to effectively recycle phosphorus after its initial use to reduce the amount of mined phosphate required to produce the same quantity of food. In Africa, OCP has worked with more than one million farmers to educate on the importance of sustainable fertiliser application to maximise yields while preserving the integrity of the soil. OCP Group has developed more than forty customised fertiliser formulas for maximum efficiency and sustainable application, and to explore new technologies and products such as biostimulants and slow release fertilisers, among others, with the objective of an optimal consumption of the phosphate resource. OCP has been a founding member of the North America Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance and has now joined ESPP.

https://www.ocpgroup.ma/fr

 

 

 

EU Fertilising Products Regulation

 

New proposals for by-products

The European Commission has published its third report towards criteria for using “By-Products” as Component Materials for EU fertilising products (CMC11, additives and CMC-WW) for comment by 16th August 2021, under the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009). The 180-page document now proposes detailed criteria for which families of by-product would be eligible, with proposed quality/purity criteria, contaminant limits, process input material exclusions, etc. This was discussed at the EU Fertilisers Expert Group 24-25 June, at which ESPP was represented.

The following summarises ESPP’s understanding of the JRC proposal.

ESPP welcomes positively that phosphogypsum and other mineral processing by-products are included, and that a new route is opened to include nitrogen salts recovered from biogas or manure or animal housing gas treatment. However, this will probably only cover recovery from sanitised manure, unless data can be produced to show the safety (absence of pathogens) in such materials (see below).

The new proposal is significantly narrower than was suggested in March this year (CMC-WW initial proposal, see ESPP eNews n°53). ESPP’s request to widen to “derivates” (see ESPP eNews n°54) has not been taken up, that is the eligible by-products can only be included directly, as such, in an EU fertilising product, that is with no further chemical processing. They cannot be used as a precursor to produce other materials (note that by-products can be used as precursors in CMC1, but not if they have “waste” status).

The new JRC proposal is somewhat complex, with four different routes:

Routes (1) and (2) are subject to the requirements that (a) the material must be a “by-product” as defined under the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC, (b) Animal By-Products, polymers, compost and digestate are excluded, and (c) the material must be REACH registered (with conditions). For routes (1) and (2) a specific list of contaminant limits is defined.

(1) By-products from seven specified industrial processes: methionine, mineral ore processing (this category includes by-product gypsums and phosphogypsums), Solvay process, acetylene production, ferrous slags, specific metal treatments, humic/fulvic acids from drinking water treatment;

(2) (any) by-product used as a “technical additive” at <5% total in the final EU fertilising product.

Routes (3) and (4) are “CMC-WW High Purity Materials”, which was originally proposed in March this year (see ESPP eNews n°54). This proposal has been significantly narrowed and now covers ONLY mineral salts of ammonia, sulphur (inc. elemental sulphur), calcium carbonate or calcium oxide, subject to 95% purity and organic carbon < 0.5%. These mineral salts must also respect a detailed and extensive limits of contaminant limits, and must be REACH registered (with conditions). They can result from:

(3) any “production” process, to which inputs can be any material (chemicals, biomass …), but NOT waste and NOT Animal By-Products

(4) gas purification from (to simplify): hygienised manure, non-hazardous wastes or any other material except Animal By-Products. The list currently includes livestock housing offgas and gas from on-farm, storage of non-hygienised manure, but these are liable to be deleted]

European Commission JRC “Technical proposals for by-products and high purity materials as component materials for EU Fertilising Products. Interim report”, 14 June 2021 https://circabc.europa.eu/ui/group/36ec94c7-575b-44dc-a6e9-4ace02907f2f/library/785d1835-07b3-4b3c-a46a-e269a33c74c7/details

Comments are open to 16th August but can only be submitted via members of the EU Fertilisers Expert Group. Please therefore send all comments to ESPP before 16th July, in order to enable them to be taken into account.

 

 

Slow progress Animal By-Products, progress on other points

At the EU Fertilisers Expert Group, 24-25 June, of which ESPP is a member:

The European Commission DG SANTE summarised slow progress on criteria for using Animal By-Products (ABPs) in EU fertilising products (currently an ‘empty box’ in CMC10 in the Fertilising Products Regulation 2019/1009 = FPR). Work has not yet started on End-Points for ABPs under the FPR, but that the EFSA opinion is expected on some materials in September 2021 (EFSA mandate 2020-0088, see ESPP eNews n°50). It thus seems inevitable that the End-Point criteria will not be adopted by the date of entry into application of the FPR in July 2022. This is the regrettable consequence of the fact that the mandate to EFSA was only transmitted by DG SANTE to EFSA in May 2020, nearly a year after publication of the FPR and more than four years after publication of the proposed regulation which already included the CMC10 ‘empty box’.

The Commission presented development of  the ‘FAQ’ which provides guidance on the FPR. New adjustments clarify on additives, contaminants in CMC materials, waste plant materials (CMC2), definitions of ‘sludge’, blue green algae.

It is confirmed that plant materials with waste status (e.g. garden waste) can be used as input to CMC2 (subject to the processing limits specified) and so achieve End-of-Waste status when integrated into an EU-label fertilising product.

Pyrolysis products and biochars from manure and Animal By-Products: DG SANTE indicated that if companies wish these to be included in the FPR, then they should submit a dossier to EFSA requesting an ABP End-Point. At present, there is no Commission mandate to EFSA to develop an ABP End-Point for pyrolysis, gasification and biochar materials. Until such an ABP End-Point is defined and adopted, biochars from manure or animal by-products will be excluded from EU fertilisers. Companies with data showing pathogen safety of biochars from manure or animal by-products are invited to contact ESPP to develop together a dossier for EFSA.

STRUBIAS criteria moving towards adoption. The European Commission confirmed that the EU Fertilising Products Regulation criteria for precipitated phosphate salts, ash-derived products and biochars/pyrolysis materials (STRUBIAS) are progressing towards Commission adoption, which will be followed by the standard three month ‘objection’ period, before publication, so should be published significantly before entre into application of the Regulation in July 2022.

ESPP letter to the European Commission on “Animal By Product End Points for EU Fertilising Products Regulation STRUBIAS materials”, 16th April 2021 www.phosphorusplatform.eu/regulatory

 

STRUBIAS criteria, as published for the public consultation February 2021

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12136-Pyrolysis-and-gasification-materials-in-EU-fertilising-products

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12162-Thermal-oxidation-materials-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12163-Precipitated-phosphate-salts-and-derivates-in-EU-fertilising-products

 

Call for data on pathogens / safety of recovered ammonia / sulphur

The principle of inclusion of ammonia or sulphur materials recovered from gas stripping in EU-fertilisers seems now accepted (CMC-WW) but those from manure may be excluded, unless data is available on pathogen levels and safety. Nitrogen and sulphur materials recovered from gas cleaning in anaerobic digesters, sewage works, waste incinerators or other installations look likely to be included in the new CMC-WW of the EU Fertilising Product Regulation (see above). However, recovery from (non-sanitised) manure, manure digestion, livestock stables or other animal by-products will likely be excluded unless data is provided to show absence of pathogens and hygiene safety. It seems probable that the transfer via the gas phase, then acid stripping and concentration in mineral solutions, prevents or eliminates pathogens, but to date very little data has been provided to the Commission. Data will also support an ongoing ESPP request to exonerate such recovered materials from the Animal Feed regulation clause which currently prevents placing them on the market as commodity chemicals. Possibly also, a request to EFSA should be prepared to develop and Animal By-Product End-Point for such recovery processes.

If you have such data, or are willing to cooperate in developing such data (analysis of recovered nitrogen or sulphur materials), please contact ESPP.

 

EU tender for study on fertiliser and mulch polymer biodegradability

The European Commission has opened to 31st August a tender to assess biodegradability criteria for polymers used in fertilisers (coating agents, water retention, wettability) or in mulch films. Value: up to 300 000 €.

Submission deadline 31st August 2021. TED (EU tender website) Services 311603-2021 link.

Policy

 

European Commission takes Member States to court over sewage treatment

Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary and Spain face European Court of Justice action over inadequate collection and treatment of municipal wastewater.

The European Commission has referred France to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failure to adequately treat sewage of more than 100 agglomerations (non-compliance with the 1991 Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271/EEC, which should have been fully implemented by 2005). Fifteen of these French agglomerations also fail to meet additional treatment requirements in eutrophication Sensitive Areas (phosphorus removal).

The Commission is also referring Hungary to the ECJ because 22 agglomerations are not collecting all residents’ sewage, relying instead partly on individual treatment systems (septic tanks), which are considered to not provide adequate treatment.

The Commission has issued a Reasoned Opinion to Belgium for non-compliance of 11 agglomerations: this gives the Member State two months to reply and take necessary measures, or face referral to the (ECJ).

The Commission has issued a Reasoned Opinion to Spain concerning over 300 agglomerations which do not treat sewage adequately, and a further 30 agglomerations where sewage is not collected and treated centrally, instead relying on individual treatment systems.

European Commission “June infringements package: key decisions”, Brussels, 9 June 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/inf_21_2743

“Urban Waste Water: Commission decides to refer FRANCE to the Court of Justice over waste water treatment”, 9 June 2021 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_1546

 

SYSTEMIC policy proposals to open markets for recycled nitrogen

The EU-funded project SYSTEMIC has presented for discussion proposals for EU policies to enable nutrient recovery to economic, in particular by bringing recycled nitrogen fertilisers into the EU Emissions Trading System. SYSTEMIC proposes to open carbon credits for biogas plant operators not only for bio-methane but also, if nitrogen is recovered and recycled, for avoided carbon emissions for production of equivalent mineral nitrogen fertilisers. It is proposed also to open carbon credits for farmers using recycled N fertilisers and for fertiliser companies who include recycled N into their products. These proposals are based on LCA data which suggests a benefit of 3 tCO2-eq per tonne N comparing recycled N fertilisers1 (assumed zero CO2 emissions, as using energy from waste biogas) to mineral fertilisers1. As proposed by SYSTEMIC, however, such carbon credits could penalise farmers who use manure on-farm and benefit large-scale livestock production, in that SYSTEMIC combines the carbon credit proposal with support for the JRC ‘RENURE’ concept which is considered by some as an attempt to facilitate intensive livestock production (see ESPP eNews n°47). It should be ensured that small and extensive farms can be equally rewarded for appropriate manure management. The carbon credit base is not applicable to recycled phosphorus, but could perhaps be transposed into a Nutrient Emissions Trading System with phosphorus credits.

1: EU average CO2-eq. per tonne N, from Hoxha & Christersen, IFS Proceedings 805, 2018

SYSTEMIC is an EU Horizon 2020 project and an ESPP member. SYSTEMIC webinar ““Enabling the Circular Economy: How to encourage a viable agricultural market for nutrients recovered from biowaste”, 13 June 2021. Watch here.

 

Legacy Phosphorus

 

Frontiers in Earth Science special on ‘Legacy Phosphorus’

This journal issue includes 11 papers addressing phosphorus use in fertilisers and in soils. Six of these which include data relevant to discussions of ‘Legacy Phosphorus’ are summarised below. The other papers concern modelling, biostimulant bacteria,  use of paper mill biosolids or sewage sludge. The editorial of this journal (Gatiboni et al.) suggests that the two Zhang et al. studies show that soil “Legacy Phosphorus” can be reduced without deteriorating crop productivity, whereas this is only demonstrated in a situation where initial soil P is higher than recommended, and that cropping with fertilisation can increase legacy P, whereas this is only shown in the scenario of P-fertilising grassland but not harvesting the grass (this could occur for example in grass buffer strips receiving P from runoff/erosion). The editorial also suggests that de Souza Nunes et al. shows that fertiliser application tends to accumulate legacy P: this is also misleading in that this study started with initially “very low” soil P where increasing the soil P was necessary for productive agriculture.

The editorial does not mention several conclusions which can be suggested from the six papers summarised above:

  • If soil P is above agronomic recommended levels, application of P fertiliser will probably not increase yield, but if soil P is low, then P-fertiliser is needed or significantly lower crop yields will result;
  • Soluble mineral P-fertiliser gives better fertiliser results, and leads to less accumulation of P in soil, than (reactive) rock phosphate application;
  • Soil P levels low enough to ensure environmental objectives may be lower than agronomic optimal, and so result in losses of crop productivity.

In correspondence with the editors, it was noted that this discussion contributes to debate, and underlines the conundrum of sustainable production: how to balance maximising yield against protecting the environment. Lower phosphate inputs and reduction of soil P levels, possibly below agronomic optimum levels, may be necessary to achieve environmental objectives, but will reduce productivity, maybe considerably (see eg. McDowell et al. below), with impacts for both food production and farmers’ incomes.

“Legacy Phosphorus in Agriculture: Role of Past Management and Perspectives for the Future”, 143 pagers in total, ed. L. Gatiboni et al., Frontiers in Environmental Science, January 2021, Legacy Phosphorus in Agriculture https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/10116/legacy-phosphorus-in-agriculture-role-of-past-management-and-perspectives-for-the-future#articles

 

Soil P above agronomic recommendations does not increase yield

Zhang et al. report data from 11 years’ field trials comparing P-fertiliser application to zero-P application in Ontario, Canada (Lake Erie catchment). Within the field, randomised plots of 0.1 ha each were given P fertiliser (50 kgP/ha once every two years), plus N+K, or only N+K, in soy /maize rotations, with fertilisers only in the maize years. Surprisingly given the random plot allocation, the soil Olsen P was initially considerably higher in the plots not receiving fertiliser (c. 60 mg/kg Olsen P in the top 15 cm of soil, versus c. 40 in the P-fertilised plots). 30 mg/kg is the agronomic recommended Olsen P level for maize and soybean. The soil Olsen P was nearly the same in the P-fertilised and unfertilised plots after 11 years, at the end of the trials, because it remained approximately constant in the  P-fertilised plots but fell in the unfertilised plots. Crop productivity and crop P-offtake were similar in P-fertilised and unfertilised plots. The authors calculate that in the unfertilised plots net P-removal in crops was around 18 kgP/ha/year, so that in the P-fertilised net P-balance would be around +7 kgP/ha/y. Despite this, soil Olsen P did not measurably increase in these plots over the 11 years.

This study shows that soil Olsen P levels higher than agronomic recommendations do not lead to increased crop productivity. While the study is to continue, it is too early to inform as to whether or not crop productivity will be lost if soil P levels are “drawn down” below agronomic recommended levels.

“An 11-Year Agronomic, Economic, and Phosphorus Loss Potential Evaluation of Legacy Phosphorus Utilization in a Clay Loam Soil of the

Lake Erie Basin”, T. Zhang et al., Front. Earth Sci. 8:115 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00115

 

45 years of P fertilisation does not increase total soil P

Zhang et al. assess data from long-term field trials, Ontario, Canada, comparing different soil P fractions after 45 years of NPK phosphorus fertilisation to no fertilisation (no P, no N, no K), under three different tile-drained cropping systems: harvested maize, harvested oats-alfalfa rotation or permanent (i.e. not annually ploughed), unharvested grass, comparing also to non-cropped, non drained woodland. The fertilised fields received NPK fertiliser with 29 kgP/ha/year. A previous study suggested that c. 1.5 kgP/ha/y is lost in tile drains. The fertiliser application, after 45 years, resulted in no significant increase in total soil P in the two harvested crops (compared to the woodland soil) but an increase in the fertilised, non-harvested grassland (this is not representative of real farm operation where fertilised grass is harvested and removed, resulting in P-offtake). All the cropped fields without fertilisation, including to a lesser extent the grassland, showed significantly lower total soil P after 45 years. Changes in the different solubility fractions of organic and inorganic fractions of P in the soils are assessed, showing that the rate of mineralisation of organic P is increased with cropping + drainage, with or without NPK fertilisation.

“Legacy Phosphorus After 45 Years With Consistent Cropping Systems and Fertilization Compared to Native Soils”, T. Zhang et al., Soils. Front. Earth Sci. 8:183 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00183

 

Focusing only on decreasing soil P will take 26-65 years to reach environmental P targets

McDowell et al. analysed c. 4.5 million data points for Olsen P from two soil sample databases (Eurofins + Hills Labs, ARL) from commercial farms in New Zealand 2001-2015. Nearly half of these were for dairy, a further third for sheep and beef, <25% cropland and some horticulture. Nearly two thirds of samples showed Olsen P higher than agronomic recommendations. Modelling suggested that not applying P fertilisers would result in a fall in Olsen P to agronomic recommended levels in less than one year. This would not however correspond to environmental objectives, and reducing P-losses in drainage and runoff water to 0.02 mgP/l would require soil P levels significantly lower than agronomic recommendations. It would take 26-55 years for soils to reach environmental targets and the cessation of fertiliser inputs would likely result in large losses in agricultural productivity (these losses are not estimated).

“The Ability to Reduce Soil Legacy Phosphorus at a Country Scale”, R. McDowell et al., Front. Environ. Sci. 8:6 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2020.00006

 

Initial soil P level defines maize productivity

Messiga et al. report results of a total of eleven 1-year silage maize field trials at 3 sites in 2018 and 8 in 2019 in BC, Canada, each with six treatments x 4 replicates on 45 m2 plots: five treatments with a total of 35 kg available-P/ha (of which 0 – 20 from TSP [triple super phosphate] and the remainder from liquid dairy manure) and one control (zero P). 35% of manure P was estimated to be “available”. The TSP fertiliser was band applied immediately after seeding the maize whereas the manure was applied at the 6-leaf stage. Additional N was applied as ammonium nitrate at the 6-leaf stage to meet the local recommendation of 150 kg N/ha. Generally, dry matter yield (DMY) at harvest was not higher in the plots with added P (be it as starter fertiliser or as manure at the 6-leaf stage) compared to the zero-P plots (fig. 4). At four sites, DMY did increase with P, showing optimum with low starter fertiliser and most P input from manure. Maize initial growth was improved by the starter fertiliser application, but this did not carry through to harvest. DMY at harvest did however vary strongly with initial soil phosphorus index, from 15 t/ha DMY in sites with low initial soil P (Mehlich-3 60 mgP/kg) to nearly the double (27 t/ha DMY) at sites with high initial soil P (Mehlich-3 200 mgP/kg). The authors note that the soil PSI (Phosphorus Saturation Index, an agro-environmental indicator), a proxy for DPS (Degree of P Saturation), is correlated to DMY, so may be a good indicator for adjusting P application. Overall, the trial results seem to suggest that initial soil P (that is, legacy P) generally influences maize productivity much more than P application in the year.

“Combined Starter Phosphorus and Manure Applications on Silage Corn Yield and Phosphorus Uptake in Southern BC”, A. Messiga et al., Front. Earth Sci. 8:88, https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00088

 

Mineral fertiliser offers better P-balance than phosphate rock

Soltangheisi et al. report results of nine years of field trials (25 m2 plots) in South Brazil, no-till cultivating each year maize and a winter cover crop. 3x6 treatments were trialled: no-P, single super phosphate mineral fertiliser (SSP, 46-59 kgP/ha) or Algerian rock phosphate (148-190 kgP/ha), but in all cases with no-P for the last two years x 5 different winter cover crops or no cover crop (fallow). The soil at the start of the nine years was considered to have low P in the top 0 – 10 cm and very low P at 10 – 20 cm depth, despite commercial no-till cultivation for the years prior to the trials. P-fractions in soil were analysed at 0-5, 5-10 and 10-15 cm depth. Cover crops showed to bring P up from the soil, accumulating organic P on the soil surface. Considerably higher P-efficiency (total over the nine years, as P in harvested grain / P inputs) was shown with SSP  (39 – 55%) compared to rock phosphate (15 – 27%). With SSP, the P-efficiency with some cover crops was higher than fallow (48%), but was similar or lower with others. Total maize grain yield was around one third higher when P fertiliser was applied than with no-P, but was similar between SSP and rock phosphate (as tested, that is with 3 – 4 x more total P input with rock phosphate) and for the different cover crops or fallow.

“Cover Cropping May Alter Legacy Phosphorus Dynamics Under Long-Term Fertilizer Addition”, A. Soltangheisi et al., Front. Environ. Sci. 8:13 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2020.00013 and “Do cover crops change the lability of phosphorus in a clayey subtropical soil under different phosphate fertilizers?”, A. Teles et al., Soil Use and Management, March 2017, 33, 34–44 https://dx.doi.org/0.1111/sum.12327

 

Mineral fertiliser offers better crop yield than phosphate rock

De Souza Nunes et al. report results of seventeen years of field trials in Brazil, 32 m2 plots, with 8 treatments: conventional or no-till x broadcast or furrow fertiliser application x TSP (triple super phosphate) or reactive rock phosphate (both at 35 kgP/ha/y). This reactive rock phosphate had high carbonate content, and so high P availability (44% citric acid solubility of P). Soybean and corn were cultivated. The soil initially had very low P availability and c. 1 mgP-total/kg. Results showed that broadcast fertiliser application resulted in a higher grain yield than furrow fertiliser placement. Under no-till, TSP resulted in grain yield c. 10% higher than with reactive rock phosphate, irrespective of spreading method. Under conventional tillage, TSP gave marginally higher (1-2%) yield than reactive rock phosphate for comparable spreading method. Reactive phosphate rock generally, but not consistently, led to higher accumulation of phosphorus in soil, especially calcium-associated phosphorus and particularly when broadcast.

“Distribution of Soil Phosphorus Fractions as a Function of Long-Term Soil Tillage and Phosphate Fertilization Management”, R. de Souza Front. Earth Sci. 8:350 https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00350

 

 

IFA Smart&Green

This online event showcased 26 crop nutrition start-ups and discussed innovation from technology to market for new fertiliser approaches: biostimulants, controlled release, organic fertilisers, nutrient recycling and data solutions. This was IFA’s (International Fertilizer Association) first innovation conference and attracted over 400 registrants (220 online participants for the recycling session).

Chris Thornton, ESPP presented an overview of EU policies driving nutrient recycling and of different routes, from agricultural valorisation of sewage biosolids or processed digestate, through use of wastewater nutrients to feed biomass, to technical recovery of phosphate chemicals from ashes and other waste streams (ESPP slideshare).

Nutrient recycling

Yariv Cohen, EasyMining (RagnSells), presented the Ash2Phos process for recovery of high purity PCP (precipitated calcium phosphate) from sewage sludge incineration ash. Two full scale sites are under permitting: Helsingborg, Sweden and Gelsenwasser, Germany (both 30 000 t-ash/year, that is each around 3.5 million population wastewater), see ESPP eNews n°55. EasyMining’s objective is to be processing 300 000 t-ash/year by 2030.

Joseph Dahan, SGTech, presented their three-stage anaerobic/aerobic digestion system for manures, in which the third biological stage transfers over 60% of the phosphorus into the solid fraction (in particular as polyphosphate). Overall, methane production is increased (+25% compared to standard AD is claimed) and 80% nitrogen removal is achieved (released as N2 not as ammonia because of neutral pH operation). A pilot plant is in operation since 2018 (c. 15 000 t/y of manure from 100 cattle) and several further projects are currently in planning, both using containerised installations for smaller farms (< 200 cattle) and a possible project to treat pig manure.

Thomas Mannheim, Ductor, presented the company’s technology for anaerobic digestion of nitrogen-rich substrates like poultry or fish waste, which uses specifically selected bacteria to convert c. 60% of nitrogen to ammonia in a separate digester, upstream of the main anaerobic digester. All nutrients are converted to fertilisers: ammonia is stripped and recovered as a liquid nitrogen fertiliser, and the digestate from biomethane production is used for the production of organic NPK fertilizers. A first full scale plant (poultry litter) is operating at Juanita, Mexico, since January 2020 (0.25 MW electrical capacity) and a second one starts in June 2021 in Germany (0.5 MW). Further projects are under planning in Poland, the USA and Norway (up to 4 MW). The technology is modular, scalable, can be added to existing biogas plants or in new plants.

Organic fertilisers

Chiara Manoli, ILSA and ECOFI, summarised innovation and R&D in processed organic fertilisers. The EU market is at present around 3 million €/year and growing c. 4%/year. Organic fertilisers offer agronomic benefits including nutrient release rates adapted to plant needs, higher phosphorus uptake, and interactions between nutrients and humic substances which protect nutrients in soil from losses and stimulate soil microbial activity (see SOFIE conference summary in ESPP SCOPE Newsletter n°130). Innovation and research is today orientated to enable use of varied organic secondary materials as inputs whilst ensuring traceability, safety and predicable product quality; production technologies to improve quality and nutrient content; customised formulations for specific crops or soils; improving understanding of nutrient mineralisation, impacts on soil microbial activity and agronomic effectiveness; combinations with mineral nutrients (organo-mineral formulations) and information of farmers.

David Lebret, Innovafeed, introduced the agronomic and environmental benefits of insect frass as an organic fertiliser. Innovafeed operates two insect farms in northern France, upcycling wheat by-products to rear black soldier fly larvae, generating proteins and oil for animal nutrition as well as insect frass (a mixture of insect faeces and used substrate) for plant nutrition: Gouzeaucourt (pilot scale, capacity 1.000T/yr protein & 6.000T/yr raw frass ) and Nesle (industrial scale, 15.000T/yr protein & 50.000T/yr processed frass).  Insect frass both supports plant growth (thanks to a combination of N, P and K nutrients, both rapidly and more slowly available) and stimulates soil activity (high concentration in organic matter content and presence of beneficial bacteria and chitin with biostimulation effects). See IPIFF position in ESPP eNews n°40.

Hugh MacGillivray, Anuvia, presented the company’s innovative organo-mineral fertiliser, made by fixing mineral N, S and P to amino acids using inputs such as food waste, manure, agricultural by-products and wastewater residuals. A pilot production plant has now been operating for five years (???? t/y) and a 1.2 million t/y plant is now under construction in partnership with Mosaic. The product offers controlled nutrient release: 70% N in 2-3 weeks and the remaining 30% in the following two months. Over 350 field trials show an average +5% yield compared to mineral fertilisers, and studies suggest also lower nutrient losses, plant nutrition stable over time and lower overall greenhouse emissions (-10%).

Innovation and research

Michael McLaughlin, University of Adelaide, outlined the very wide range of innovations in fertiliser technologies, both for products, in patents and research publication. These include: delivering mineral fertilisers as nanomaterials, layered double hydroxides, graphene-based materials, hydrogels, zeolites, stabilised N fertilisers, sulphur-polymer composites, metal-organic molecules, microbes and biostimulants.

Phil Pardey, University of Minnesota, summarised data since the 1970’s on global agricultural R&D spending. Developed countries have a considerably reduced share of global public spending on agriculture R&D which became particularly pronounced after 2000. Many high-income countries have also reorientated research away from productivity, e.g. towards sustainability. The share of global agricultural R&D spending by low-income countries has also shrunk, but there is substantial growth in Asia and Brazil. Agriculture R&D is increasingly privately funded and performed. Nearly ¾ of total agriculture R&D spending occurs in just 10 countries, with China accounting for over ¼ of the global total.

Biostimulants

Patrick Brown, UC-Davis, suggested that biostimulants all function by helping plants to deal with stress (i.e. increase crop system resilience), for example water stress or nutrient limitations. Environmental stress of crops is ubiquitous, so the potential value of biostimulants is significant. There are however major challenges for R&D, product development and testing, in that biostimulant effect will be related to occurrence of stress, which is unpredictable and often different stresses occur at the same time. Precision agriculture can however improve this targeting.

Manish Raizada, University of Guelph, Canada, showed that microbial biostimulants can have a range of functions, including solubilising minerals in soil such as P, K, Zn, Si so making them plant available, promoting root growth so improving fertiliser uptake, improving yield by promoting growth, combating plant pathogenic microbes. In particular, he presented developments in nitrogen fixing microbes: recent work has shown that repeated rhizobia inoculation through the growing season can increase yields of soy (a legume, which “naturally” has such nitrogen-fixing microbes), and combining rhizobia with other specific bacteria or fungi can also increase yields. There are many nitrogen-fixing rhizobia microbe products on the market.

Luca Bonini, Hello Nature, presented some crop benefits shown for the company’s peptide biostimulant. In spinach, yield was increased +8% (with nitrogen fertiliser) to +33% (no N fertiliser): the peptides are thought to act as signalling molecules, inducing nutrient uptake by the plant. In lettuce, the peptides showed to reduce yield loss caused by salinity: that is, mitigate plant stress. A biostimulant containing micro-organisms and root-stimulating peptides showed to increase both weight yield and sugar contents in melons. He underlined the need for more research and innovation into biostimulants, tailor-made to specific needs, and for field trials with different crops in different conditions, in order to provide appropriate information to farmers.

Andrea Bagnolini, Salvi Vivai (Italy’s leading fruit tree nursery), indicated that there are three types of biostimulants most used on fruit farms: to improve nutrient uptake, without increasing the use of fertilisers and respecting regulation whilst improving yield (this helped Salvi Vivai to grow the Guinness Book of Records biggest cherry in the world in 2020); to improve crop stress resilience; and to ensure uniform size of fruit, which is important for market value.

 

 

Research and science

 

Will atmospheric P deposition significantly impact peat bog carbon storage?

Mid-latitude peatlands are estimated to hold 0.23 Gt of phosphorus (1.7% of global soil P). A study of 23 such bogs worldwide suggests that increased atmospheric P deposition increases decomposition and reduces carbon fixation. From literature, data on P, N and C in ombrotrophic* peatlands at different depths was identified for 23 sites worldwide, with time accumulation data available for 11 of these (using radioactive dating). This data was combined with rates of P, N and C accumulation in the acrotelm** and catotelm** from a bog in Sweden. Atmospheric P deposition is the limiting nutrient for such peat bogs, limiting productivity and nitrogen fixation in the upper layers, but also limiting decomposition in the lower layers. P:N ratio in accumulated organic material in the catotelm (lower layers) is thus significantly lower than that in the acrotelm (upper layers), as P is recycled in the acrotelm. The field data show a strong positive correlation between phosphorus accumulation in the catotelm and decomposition of organic carbon, and a negative correlation between the catotelm P:N ratio and carbon burial. The authors conclude that although increased P input to such peat bogs will increase primary carbon fixation, the overall impact will be a significant reduction in the carbon burial rate, or possibly even net carbon loss. Questions are therefore raised about how much atmospheric P deposition has increased with anthropogenic activity (e.g. burning fossil fuels) compared to natural sources (desert dust, pollen …) – see ESP eNews n°43. The authors note that deposition to peat bogs will vary considerably with local sources depending on nearby soils and vegetation (dust, pollen). Further work is needed to better understand potential carbon impacts of P deposition to peat bogs at local and global scales.

* ombrotrophic (from Greek: cloud fed) = receiving water and nutrients only from rain, not runoff.
** acrotelm = living and catotelm = dead layers of a peat bog, the catotelm generally being the deeper layer or below the water table, where oxygen is not available.

“Phosphorus supply controls the long-term functioning of mid-latitude ombrotrophic peatlands”, EarthArXiv pre-review preprint 2021, D. Schillereff et al., DOI.

 

 

Field trials of animal bone char as fertiliser

Five year field tests were carried out to compare animal bone char, sulphur-modified animal bone char, triple super phosphate (TSP) and control (no P fertilisers), on soils with three different initial levels of phosphorus. The bone char was purchased from Bonechar Carvao Ativado do Brasil https://www.bonechar.com.br/ and is produced by pyrolysis of animal bones at >800°C, resulting in a material with c. 12% carbon and 70 – 75 % hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate) content, marketed since 1987 as an activated charcoal material for applications in the food industry, waste treatment, decontamination. The sulphur-modified animal bone char is treated with reduced sulphur gas compounds, e.g. H2S, according to a 2021 patent application. The field trials were carried out in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany, with a crop rotation of winter barley, winter oilseed rape, winter wheat, lupin and winter rye. In the first year, on P deficient soil, the control (zero P fertiliser) gave 90% yield compared to TSP, bone char 94%, sulphur bone char 95%. Similar significant differences in yield showed in years 3 and 4, and no significant differences between fertiliser treatments in years 2 and 5.

A second paper analyses the changes in soil bacteria related to P turnover in the field trial soils. Effects of fertilisation with animal bone char and sulphur-modified animal bone char were compared (for soils with very low, low and optimal initial P concentrations) to no P fertilisation (control) and to conventional TSP under winter wheat. Sulphur-enriched bone char addition increased the P-solubilisation potential of soil bacteria. Low  soil P concentration and bone char fertilisation favoured P recycling from biomass and bacteria P-uptake systems, indicated by high abundance of bacteria with phoD or pstS genes. Bacterial P turnover was influenced by the sulphur-enriched bone char, by the plant development stage and by the initial P concentration.

“Agronomic evaluation of bone char as phosphorus fertiliser after five years of consecutive application”, K. Panten, P. Leinweber, Journal für Kulturpflanzen, 72 (12). S. 561–576, 2020, ISSN 1867-0911, DOI

“Effects of different innovative bone char based P fertilizers on bacteria catalyzing P turnover in agricultural soils”, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 314 (2021) 107419, DOI.

 

Pyrolysis reduces availability of phosphorus in poultry manure

Granulated poultry manure showed the same P fertiliser efficiency as superphosphate, but was less than half as effective after pyrolysis. N fertiliser efficiency was reduced by more than 90% after pyrolysis. Fertiliser efficiency was tested in five-month pot trials with rye grass in low-P soil, pH 6.5. Poultry manure (bedded with Sphagnum peat) was tested after granulation to 3 – 6 mm (from Biolan), after mixing with feather meal and after pyrolysis at 460°C for 90 minutes. Yield-based fertiliser efficiency was compared to mineral phosphate fertiliser (superphosphate). The granulated poultry manure showed the same P-efficiency as superphosphate (100%) over one growing season, the mixture with feather meal somewhat lower efficiency (75%) and the pyrolysed poultry manure much lower P-efficiency (45%). Soil inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) did not enhance the P-efficiency. In a previous paper, the N fertiliser efficiency of the pyrolysed poultry manure showed (in the same pot trials) to be only 3% that of mineral N fertiliser, compared to 45 – 50% for granulated manure.

“Bioavailability of phosphorus in granulated and pyrolyzed broiler manure”, M. Sarvi et al., Environmental Technology & Innovation 23 (2021) 101584 DOI.  “Granulated broiler manure based organic fertilizers as sources of plant available nitrogen”, R. Keskinen et al., Environmental Technology & Innovation 18 (2020) 100734 DOI.

 

Struvite effective fertiliser with lower P-loss risk

Pot trials with maize and soy conclude that blending 25% - 50% struvite with mineral P fertiliser reduces P-loss risk without restricting early-season growth. Soil pH was 5.6. Struvite (Ostara) was granule size 1.5 – 3 mm and mineral P fertiliser was MAP (mono ammonium phosphate) granule size 3 mm. Maize and soybean biomass was measured after 44-45 days. Maize showed the same biomass production with 25% or 50% struvite compared to 100% MAP. Soy showed the same biomass production with 25% struvite. Results for P-uptake were, however, very different. P-uptake was the same for up to 100% struvite with maize, but was higher with struvite than with MAP for soy . Residual soil Mehlich-3 phosphorus decreased with increasing % of struvite used, suggesting lower risks of P-losses to surface waters.

“Maize and soybean response to phosphorus fertilization with blends of struvite and monoammonium phosphate”, A. Hertzberger et al., Plant Soil 2021 DOI.

 

Global Phosphorus Institute launched

The new institute, GPI, launched by the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco, aims to promote global, science based research and innovation and collaboration on industrial phosphorus use and nutrient stewardship. It will be led by Amit Roy, previously with IFDC and Global Traps, and has an Advisory Board chaired by the President of the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and including representatives of the Morocco Ministry of Agriculture, the US Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance, industry experts and scientists. The GPI aims to bring together leading scientists, industry, policy makers and stakeholders, to develop inclusive dialogue and collaboration, and to create and share innovative solutions to balance the need and use of phosphorus in the production of health food, animal feed and natural fibres, in the spirit of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development. www.tgpi.org

 

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ESPP members

ESPP members logos 2 2021

 

ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) Special Session (SS06) on Methane Accumulation in Oxic Aquatic Environments: Sources, Sinks and Subsequent Fluxes to The Atmosphere. Within the 2021 Aquatic Sciences Meeting (online, 22-27 June 2021). In partnership with the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and ASLO, ESPP and SPA will follow-up with a webinar to exchange between science, water stakeholders and policy makers on implications of aquatic methane emissions for nutrient management. Proposals for input are welcome.

ASLO special session on methane in oxic aquatic environments: https://www.aslo.org/2021-virtual-meeting/session-list/

Contact Mina Bizic 

To contribute to the ESPP- SPA- IGB webinar: contact 

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