Fertilizer Ordinance: Manure, the underrated raw material

Fertilizer Ordinance: Manure, the underrated raw material

         Fertilizer Regulation Manure, the underrated raw material The German farmers fight against a new fertilizer ordinance. The new regulation could promote innovations – and ultimately benefit the farmers. The big protest action of the German farmers was promptly answered: Only a few days after the demonstration in Berlin invited Chancellor Angela Merkel and Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner (both CDU) now to the big agricultural summit. The farmers in the Chancellery have put forward many points, their frustration at having to serve as a scapegoat for many environmental damage, or the absurdity of the approaching glyphosate ban without effective alternatives. But they were all about one point: the new fertilizer ordinance. It is expected to come into force in April of the coming year and would severely restrict the application of liquid manure in the fields. The environmental and public health benefits are immediately obvious: Germany has exceeded the EU limit values ​​for nitrate at many measuring points, especially in the north of the country, for years – and that clearly. Although it is now possible to discuss whether the chosen restrictions are too general. Hardly anyone questioned that they are necessary in principle. Nevertheless, the regulation is highly problematic for farmers. And for a very simple reason: you simply do not know where to go with all the liquid manure. Particularly in regions where animal breeding takes place on a large scale, significantly more manure is produced than the local soil can absorb. First of all, therefore, the Fertilizer Ordinance will have the ecologically abstruse effect that manure has to be exported on a supraregional and international basis, ie it will be driven around in the area with great effort. That the peasant protest finds so much attention is no proof that their claims are justified. It demonstrates the exaggerated bargaining power of an economic fringe group. But that is expensive. And so some peasants will soon ask if there are no alternatives. Is there. For while the agricultural associations are still struggling to preserve their routines, disposal companies and universities have been researching promising projects for the extraction of nutrients from waste such as liquid manure for years. Quite obvious is a first step of reuse: manure consists of 90 percent of water. Among the remaining 10 percent are not only indigestible feed residues and plant fibers but also nitrogen and phosphorus, the two most important plant nutrients. For her alone fertilization with manure in moderation is very effective. A project of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology in Stuttgart shows how excess nutrients can be extracted from excess manure. The manure is first divided into its liquid and its solid components. From the liquid part of the phosphorus is then first solved by means of a so-called precipitation reactor. Thereafter, the liquid part is passed through a membrane cell, wherein the nitrogen dissolves in the form of ammonia. Both can then be used as fertilizer. The solid part is dried, destroying the microorganisms. Then it is heated under exclusion of air and thus converted into organic biochar. That in turn can serve as an energy source. All in all, it can be 50 kilograms of pig slurry 500 grams of phosphate fertilizer, 500 grams of nitrogen fertilizer and 900 grams of biochar win. In Berlin, the government invites angry farmers to the agrarian summit. They feel left alone by politics – also because of the price explosion in agricultural land. The prices have climbed to ten times. from Kristina Antonia Schaefer At the end of the process, only one substance remains: water, which contains only traces of phosphorus and nitrogen and is rich in potassium, which makes it very suitable for irrigation. Anyone familiar with this chemical process wonders why it is not long since is used. There’s a simple reason for that: it’s too expensive. But at this point the fertilizer regulation comes into play. Because it will increase the costs of manure disposal. This will certainly be expensive for the farmers in the short term and will then have a corresponding effect on the prices. However, the consequences this might have in the medium term can be observed in a related field, namely the disposal of sewage sludge. As the nitrogen – and to a much lesser extent than manure – contains nitrogen and phosphorus, it was allowed to be dumped onto the fields for decades together with manure. But that will soon be banned. And so the prices for the disposal of sewage sludge have increased dramatically in the past few months alone. With an interesting consequence: nationwide incineration plants for sewage sludge, which make the supposedly useless broth energy. And not only that: The first plants for the recovery of phosphorus are already being planned. Quite apart from the fact that some manure can also be processed in these plants, the development of sewage sludge shows what could also work with manure: new environmental regulations will only increase costs – but then a new market will develop. In that also the business models of the farmers would work again. Better still, from the scapegoat, who is poisoning the groundwater, they would also be with their wastewater to what they have long been elsewhere: the suppliers of valuable raw materials. Now on wiwo.de You want to know what drives the economy? Click here for the latest articles of WirtschaftsWoche. © Handelsblatt GmbH – All rights reserved. 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