ReNu2Farm project presents at the anaerobic digestion demo in Cork, Ireland

The Interreg NWE ReNu2Farm project aims at increasing the recycling rates of plant nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). P and K are limited and finite resources, and production of N fertilisers is energy intensive. Despite a number of recovery technologies been at a mature stage, the use of recycling-derived fertiliser (RDF) products by farmers has been limited to date. The aim of ReNu2Farm is to put the farming community at the heart of the research, therefore stakeholder engagement is essential to the success of this project. As part of this stakeholder engagement, the ReNu2Farm team was involved with the anaerobic digestion and digestate demonstration, which took place on March 12th in Cork, Ireland.

The anaerobic digestion demonstration was co-hosted by Agrigen Ltd. and NRGE Consultants in Cork, Ireland. The demonstration was open to the farming and local community alike. The demonstration showcased the new anaerobic digestion facility, which has just completed the commissioning phase. The anaerobic digester is a 1MW facility and accepts pig slurry and other agri-food business waste. The facility accepts waste from a verity of sources, including a local yogurt factory, a butter factory, a cheese factory and wastewater sludge from a local slaughtering facility. By taking this agri-food waste from local companies, it in turn is supporting the local economy. To complete the circular economy, the final step in the process is the use of the digestate. The digestate at this facility is treated to a very high standard and undergoes a pasteurisation process for a minimum of 1 hr at 70 oC, as required by the Department of Agriculture in the Republic of Ireland. The digestate is produced to a high standard and is therefore a valuable fertiliser for the farming community. It has a known NPK ratio and therefore it can fit into a nutrient management plan.

The demonstration included a talk from ReNu2Farm team members Dr. Aoife Egan and Dr. Niamh Power from Cork Institute of Technology (Figure 1). Dr. Power states that ‘digestate is an excellent resource and farmers should have confidence in it. It is safe to use with a known NPK value, it is cheaper than mineral fertiliser and has the added benefit of having an organic carbon content’. The demonstration also included a talk by Mr. Eddie Burgess Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, on the eutrophication of the water catchment. Again Teagasc highlighted the benefits of digestate. In addition to the excellent presentations, the demonstration included a guided tour of the digester, this included details of the reception hall, the primary digester, the pasteurisation unit and the CHP plant. The tour was facilitated by Mr. Colin Bateman of Agrigen Ltd. and Mr. Michael McEniry of NRGE Consultants. The tour was very open and engaging, where visitors to the plant where encouraged to ask questions to learn about the process. In addition to the tour of the facility, the demonstration also included a showcase of digestate spreading machinery (Figure 2). This was an excellent event and one in which ReNu2Farm was proud to be involved with.

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