Tackling climate-change and eutrophication by recycling industrial side-streams

Agriculture is heavily dependent on the nutrients. By using industrial side-streams, Soilfood reduces the dependence on non-renewable nutrients and natural resources such as phosphorus. By creating fertilizers and soil amendments from nutrient rich and carbon rich industrial side-streams from the forest industry, Soilfood improves not only farm profitability and yields but also the recycling of nutrients, sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere and the quality of soil but also reduces nutrient flows from fields and thus improves the quality of water-bodies.

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Non-renewable inputs have been the most common way of fertilising for several decades. Nowadays researchers assume that the sufficiency of one of the most critical nutrients, phosphorus is only about fifty to hundred years. If we are to farm in the future the recycling of nutrients is essential.

Annually 11 000 tons of phosphorus is added to Finnish fields. At the same time, over 21 million tons of nutrient-rich side-streams form to the “back-yards” of industrial operators containing 26 000 tons of phosphorus among other valuable nutrients. Solely the amounts formed at forest industry contains about 230 tons of phosphorus and lots of organic matter which improves the the growth potential of the soil. When fibrous side streams are utilized in agriculture, a more sustainable and recycling procedure is obtained.

How it works in practise

The fibrous side streams are processed into soil amendments and delivered to farms and fields. When plants utilize the nutrients of the side-stream there is less need for other, such as chemical, fertilizers. Soil amendments also improve the organic matter content and the structure of the soil. When improving the structure also the water holding capacity enhances and field will be more tolerant to drought or heavy rains. In addition, the profitability of the farming improves.

Economic opportunities and broader social significance

Improving soil health by using fibrous soil amendments also reduces nutrient flows from agriculture. When adding 20 to 50 tons of fibrous soil amendments per hectare, the organic matter content rises by 5 to 15 tons. With this sort of amendments, the nutrient run-off from field reduces by 74-77% for two first year. During the third-year soil is still holding nutrients and nutrient run-off is 49% smaller compared to the field with no soil improvement and added amendments.

Further information
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