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FERTIPLUS Reducing mineral fertilisers and agro-chemicals by recycling treated organic waste as compost and bio-char products

Final Report Summary - FERTIPLUS (FERTIPLUS Reducing mineral fertilisers and agro-chemicals by recycling treated organic waste as compost and bio-char products)

Executive Summary:
FERTIPLUS identifies urban and farm organic wastes that can be used to recycle nutrients and return those nutrients contained in the waste into agriculture as biochar, compost or combinations of both. Urban and farm organic residues are a large source of nutrients and are currently not used to their full potential. At the end of the project, FERTIPLUS will assess and use this potential and contribute to sustainable crop production and soil productivity and quality across regions in Europe.

FERTIPLUS has worked on demonstrating the effective, innovative processing and application of biochar and compost while ensuring safety for soil organisms, the environment and human health throughout the food chain as far as potential mineral and organic contaminants are concerned. FERTIPLUS has assessed scenarios on the amount and quality of organic wastes available within the EU in the near future to identify and map their potential for recycling nutrients to soil and plants as biochar or compost. FERTIPLUS has provided added value to recycling of nutrients contained in waste by providing an understanding of the processes and blends that give value to these nutrients when used as fertilizer in agricultural production. This understanding of what works and why and what will not work, is considered crucial to successful implementation in (agricultural) industries.

Production processes for compost and biochar have been reviewed and new technologies are being designed to obtain high quality biochar with functionalities related to site-specific targets of sustainable soil management. Compost and biochar amendments have been compared in laboratory and field trials for agronomical and environmental impacts (crop production, disease suppression, soil C sequestration, prevention of GHG emissions and leaching losses) and biofuel and energy balance.
The results obtained from these studies have been used to complete a Life Cycle Analysis and define the best application practices for an effective and safe use of the final products in agriculture in an economically viable way.

Project Context and Objectives:
Present and future civilization threats are related to the management of the increasing amounts of urban and rural wastes and the need to close the nutrient cycle.
The core of FERTIPLUS is to provide the knowledge in order to be able to answer the questions of how to ensure nutrient cycling between urban areas with the aim of improving sustainability.
One of the most important environmental problems is the increase in the volume of streams of organic wastes, due to the rise in the global population and enhancement of the biobased economy. Meaning that municipal wastes, agricultural wastes, and the by-products from bio-energy need to be managed in an environmentally safe and sustainable way (recycled and used again). There is a need to change the way in which we deal with these streams, from waste to be disposed of or incinerated (energy) towards producing valuable economic products (energy generation and saving, fertilizers and agro-chemicals). The transformation of waste into soil improving materials with fertilizing effects contributes to the maintainance and increase in soil productivity, and contributes to the specific problem of rapid depletion of resources (phosphorus and soil organic matter).
Another problem related to future societies is the increased need for biomass, and the need to reduce the environmental impact related to the presence of heavy metals and organic contaminants. This is associated with the world´s food supply predicted by 2030, where phosphate production is predicted to peak by that date. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant growth with nitrogen and potassium, it is a key component of DNA, and plays a key role in plant metabolism. The key problem is that there is no substitute for it. The risks from depletion of soil organic matter will have a negative impact on soil productivity and water use efficiency. Furthermore, organic matter and phosphorus availability in soil are closely related, and its depletion one of the main threats to our society. Moreover, higher agricultural production needs higher inputs, however, production of mineral fertilizers requires energy. Compost and biochar have the potential to substitute part of the chemical fertilizers used, closing the cycle, while the driven process generates the energy we need for other processes.
The general objective of the project was to develop innovative strategies and technologies to:
• Reduce and replace the application of mineral fertilizers and agrochemicals and
• Stimulate the industry to implement necessary and cost-effective organic waste treatment and recycling processes to produce safe compost and biochar that will allow agriculture to improve the efficient utilization of nutrients.
By achieving the objectives above the research will provide the necessary tools and quality standards for the design and implementation of future strategies for a safe and sustainable recycling of urban and farm wastes as fertilizers and soil amendments.
The focus of FERTIPLUS is to understand what process and feedstocks make a good product and to provide a tool to determine what feedstock and quality and what processing conditions produce the best product in terms of its fertilizer value. Through the analysis of the different wastes: urban and agricultural wastes, municipal household wastes, residues from anaerobic digestors for N and P recuperation, it is possible to assess the availability of organic waste and estimate how much nitrogen and phosphorus could be available when returned to agriculture, and if it is feasible according to the EU present legislation and regulation. FERTIPLUS has provided an integrated approach and has presented an LCA, which defines the best application practices for effective and safe use of different products. FERTIPLUS has also reviewed technologies and identified innovations to biochar production. Furthermore, in collaboration with the Refertil project, FERTIPLUS has produced a policy supporting report concerning the absence of potential risks for different environmental compartments, for plants and for human health resulting from the use of these materials in agricultural soils. Also, FERTIPLUS and Refertil have worked together disseminating the project results.
The main focus of the FERTIPLUS dissemination strategy was to encourage the use of foreground material and the uptake of the project results in order to maximise the impact on the use of new organic fertilisers such as compost and biochar.
The main impacts listed in the Work Programme that FERTIPLUS was aimed to achieve and have been worked on during the life of the project are:
• Identification of organic urban and farm wastes than can be used to recycle nutrients into agriculture as organic or mineral fertilizer from the production of biochar, compost or combinations and energy from available database. And will characterize nutrient dynamics for each specific material under different climatic conditions and for different cropping systems.
• Reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture by identifying organic urban and farm wastes that can be used to recycle nutrients into agriculture as organic or mineral fertilizer from the production of biochar, compost or combinations and energy from available database. Investigate the feasibility of compost utilization as a partial substitute for chemical fertilizers, while maintaining the same productivity levels. FERTIPLUS will also evaluate the actual fertilization potential (N and P) of compost and biochar produced from a range of wastes. This will allow an estimation of the amount of mineral fertilizer that could potentially be replaced. To finish, FERTIPLUS will present several alternative products to replace the use of mineral fertilizers and chemicals. These products will fulfill farmers needs and will introduce a new concept of environmental friendly fertilizers.
• The impact of the application of compost and biochar into soil will allow the closure of organic matter and element cycles, avoiding the negative effects caused by soil depletion of organic C and nutrients and contribute to the sustainability of bionergetic processes.
• Determine which technologies and innovations lead to nutrient recycling without environmental/agronomical risks due to the presence of pollutants and/or unbalanced nutrient supply.
• Development of new biochar products, free from contaminants and with highly active surface functionality.
• Encouraging industrial innovation by improving the bio-waste treatment process and by improving the quality and safety of the final products. SMEs will implement innovative products to identify the best combination of technologies for recycling of biowaste derived nutrients back to the soil.

Project Results:
Fertiplus is divided into 6 WPs where WP1 is devoted to the management and coordination tasks and WP6 is tasked with facilitating the effective communication, dissemination and exploitable results of the project.
Specific WPs objectives are:
WP2: Will define and analyze the present waste streams and evolution tendencies. WP2 will evaluate horizontal and sectoral policies, influencing the definition, classification, arising and destiny of biowaste suitable for different treatments. It will evaluate the current classification and will provide guidelines for an improved classification. WP2 will finally result in a publication on the quality and quantity of biowaste from households and comparable sources as well as organic waste from agriculture.
WP3: Will be focused on the production of biochar with different and targeted functionalities on the basis of the scientific understanding of the principles for processing biochar, and based on a number of selected measured properties, and produce a classification for a more accurate assessment of effect and impact, both when applied as such and when blended with compost.
WP4: Will test the selected materials and products in experimental research on the effects of biochar on nutrient recycling and crop productivity, carbon sequestration and plant and human pathogens suppression/reduction. The materials will be tested solely and in blends with compost and compared to reference products of waste and compost as regards the efficiency and safety of biochar.
WP5: Will use the results obtained from testing to improve the whole production chain and provide scientific data for a full Life Cycle Analysis, as well as to assess the sustainability of different aspects of the production and use of the various end products. Assessment will be made by region, taking into account not only region specific soil threats, but also region specific soil types, utilization systems and cropping systems. The assessment will result in proposals for the best application practices for an effective and safe utilization of these end use products. Guidelines will be produced in relation to the specific materials and their utilization in field, green house, soil less culture. Economic feasibility and viability will be the final outcome.
WP6: WP6 objectives are focused on the transfer of knowledge and best practices to stimulate the implementation of results to promote sustainable agriculture and climate friendly cities and communities. WP6 objectives will also be focused on the production of the policy supporting report concerning the absence of potential risks for the different environmental compartments, for the plants and for human health resulting from the use of these materials in agricultural soils

WP2 Main Scientific and Technical Results
Work Undertaken
The activities of WP2 started with the evaluation of the feedstock potential for biochar and compost by collating statistical data and information. In addition to reviewing data from Eurostat, data from several national statistic offices were also included to generate an EU-wide overview using tables and maps. This was complemented by investigating the factors influencing the amount and the quality of the feedstock produced. Several case studies from different Member States were reviewed to identify relationships between feedstock potential and utilization. Previous estimations and prognoses about the potential and the utilization of organic waste were critically reviewed.
The existing policies, which regulate the treatment and utilization of organic waste, were reviewed in regard to their influence on the production of compost and biochar. These reviews included regulations at EU-level, but also at national and regional level. Previous studies on these regulations were used as a starting point and planned revisions of existing regulations were also considered to produce a full picture.
A special focus of the work on organic waste streams was the investigation of collection schemes, including source separation and pre-treatment technologies. Previous investigations as well as case studies from different Member States were reviewed. With a qualitative comparison of costs and benefits, several appropriate collection schemes were identified.
Scientific and Technical Results
The four deliverables of WP2 (D2.1-4) consist of reports on certain aspects of the feedstock potential for biochar and compost production in the EU. The first two reports (D2.1 and D2.2) provide basic data on the amount and quality of organic waste from municipalities (Figure 1a), including waste water treatment plants (Figure 1b), and from agriculture and forestry. These data are the base for the assessment of the biochar and compost production potential.
It can be concluded that in terms of macro nutrients the most recycling potential lies in agricultural residues, followed by waste water and finally by bio- and green waste (Figure 2). However, this order cannot be applied to the overall potential for the production of biochar and compost. Firstly, agricultural residues are already strongly recycled within agriculture and secondly, waste water or the resulting sludge poses severe contamination risks in the utilization for compost or biochar production, notwithstanding that these risks are manageable. On the other hand, bio- and green waste represent a still under-utilized resource, which can be collected as a clean feedstock.
The report on the legislative influences on the considered feedstock (D2.3) provides an overview of legislation on different levels. Although the national and regional levels could not be covered entirely, because of the multitude of regulations, the importance of these was highlighted. Using the existing compost market as an example the many differences of national and regional regulations were illustrated, with the conclusion that European legislation provides important incentives to utilize bio- and green waste and that with national regulations an implementation of certain European goals can be achieved. A similar low-level approach for biochar, using existing legislation, is provided by the report as well.
The third report (D2.4) is concerned with the collection systems with source separation and pre-treatment technologies for mixed waste. The information presented is relevant for the mobilization potential of municipal organic residues for biochar and compost. It highlights how different regional and local conditions influence the requirements for a well-functioning collection system. The most important message from the work is about the variations at the small-scale spatial level. Because of the many different types of feedstock, the best feedstock for biochar and compost production can only be determined at the local level. This has implications for the respective collection schemes, for the choice of conversion technologies and also with r the application and utilization of compost and biochar. Several examples help in the assessment to which degree this specific feedstock is mobilisable within the EU. An alternative to these separate collection systems is provided by the evaluation of pre-treatment technologies for mixed waste. Benefits and disadvantages are shown in comparison to separate collection with less pre-treatment.
The quantity and quality of different European feedstock potentials for biochar and compost were compared to each other. The total quantity of nutrients is highest in animal manure (agriculture), followed by municipal waste water and then bio-waste. It is also unlikely that this ratio will change in the next 15 or 20 years. The most under-used nutrient potential can be found in municipal waste water, followed by bio-waste. There is also a potential to improve animal manure recycling, although a major fraction is applied to the soil already. The main problem lies in the very intensive animal husbandry of some regions, which exceeds the capacity of their soils to recycle manure.
Municipal waste water is integrated in a widely established end-of-pipe system, which provides large amounts of waste water sludge. The average heavy metal load of this sludge has decreased during recent years. On the other hand, contamination with complex organic compounds, e.g. from drugs or drug metabolites has increased. Because a large number of those compounds are very persistent in biologically, direct application to the soil could pose long term risks. With sludge treatment via pyrolysis or hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) these compounds would be rendered harmless. Therefore, wastewater sludge may represent a large feedstock potential for biochar or hydrochars production. Wastewater sludge can also be treated via composting, but this requires an extra input of structural materials, e.g. green waste.
Only one third of the total bio-waste potential is already used in composting and anaerobic digestion. However, even if it can be assumed that half of the bio-waste potential is available in the form of green waste, the amount of woody material suitable for biochar is quite limited. Therefore, from a waste biomass perspective, biochar production will be reserved for very specific applications, e.g. for cascade uses, for very poor soil, or for high-priced crops.
Regarding the mobilization of the unused bio-waste potential European regulations can be important drivers. One of the most important regulations is the Landfill Directive, which sets goals for the diversion of bio-waste away from landfills. However, the implementation of such European goals is often extremely diverse at the regional and local level. It is a strength of the EU that it allows such diversification, because the various administrative, climatic, infrastructural and cultural frameworks require diverse solutions for optimized bio-waste mobilization and utilization on a regional level. However, since synthetic fertilizers usually cost less than the nutrients contained in organic amendments, there are only marginal markets for compost or biochar-compost as fertilizer. Therefore, in order to encourage the use of novel material, regulations are needed that require recycling to compost or biochar. In addition, indirect subsidies by the waste management (waste producer pays principle) can help to provide the economic base for compost and biochar.
Impact of WP2 on other WPs
The results of WP2 were first used to support the selection of appropriate feedstock for the provision of small amounts of biochar for laboratory trials in WP3. With the investigation of compost production systems in the EU, several insights could be used for the study of market acceptance in WP5. In addition some data for the economical evaluation of processes in the same work package could be provided.
The results of WP2 revealed the relations between feedstock potential, influencing policies, and collection schemes, the latter also driven by policies. This strongly influenced the preparation of the policy report in WP6, which provides recommendations for policy makers at the European level, but also for decision makers at national and regional level.
WP3 "Sustainable and efficient production": Main Scientific and Technical Results
Work Undertaken
WP3 has identified and characterised a set of waste with significant potential for biochar production. Samples of biochar and hydrochar have been produced using laboratory scale hydrothermal carbonization, pyrolysis and gasification reactors and the environmental and agronomical properties of each of the products have been characterized in detail. Large amounts of biochar were produced from a single feedstock in a commercial scale pyrolysis plant for use in composting trials at real scale and field trials as described in WP4. An assessment of the potential for using biochar for nutrient recuperation was performed and suitable applications have been identified. The potential for increasing the functionality of biochar has been demonstrated and a greater understanding of biochar/hydrochar function has been developed.
A database containing the characterization of a range of biochar from different wastes and produced under different conditions is available. The environmental properties have been compared to proposed certified limits set in the European Biochar Certificate. The functionality and properties differ significantly for chars from different wastes and processes. Some feedstocks are unsuitable due to high levels of contaminants and others are challenging due to their high heterogeneity. In general, lower temperature biochars have higher functionality and are more active towards nutrient retention, but they also have lower stability in soil. Higher temperature biochars have reduced functionality but have higher stability in the soil and have increased porosity and ash content. There is potential for enhancement of the nutrient retention behaviour following chemical and biological modification. Gasification is likely to have advantages over pyrolysis in terms of energy consumption and hydrothermal carbonization has advantages for high moisture content feedstock and produces an additive with enhanced functionality. The addition of biochar to compost has a positive effect and there is evidence that ammonia is adsorbed, enhancing organic matter decomposition.
The overall aim of WP3 was to identify the best combination of technologies for processing urban waste and agricultural residues into high value products and quality organic materials for use in agriculture, whilst reducing nutrient loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. The work package specifically is focussed on the production and utilisation of biochar and its use as soil amendment, its potential for recovery of nutrients and its influence on the composting process. The work package seeks to understand the functionality of biochar and assess the potential for improving char properties, either via chemical modification or processing, and understand the influence of processing (pyrolysis, gasification and hydrothermal carbonisation) on the agronomical and environmental properties of the resultant chars and the impact of processing on functionality and safety. The Hypothesis assumed is that ‘No one size fits all biochar’ and the ‘variation of soils and crops demand different types of biochar’.
The overall objectives of WP3 include
• Identify, sample and characterise suitable wastes for processing into biochar (TASK 3.1).
• Production of a range of biochar and functionalised chars (TASK 3.2).
• Understanding the influence of process conditions on the agronomical and environmental properties of char from a range of waste feedstocks (TASK 3.2).
• Assessment of the potential for nutrient recuperation using char and identify potential applications for its augmentation (TASK 3.2).
• Production of suitable data for LCA (TASK 3.2).
• Assessment of the influence of char on the composting process (TASK 3.2).
Scientific and Technical Results
Task 3.1.- Sampling and Characterisation of feedstock
Six samples of waste biomass were studied in Fertiplus representing a range of wastes available across Europe including:
• Lignocellulosic biomass (reference Holm Oak)
• Treated organic fraction of municipal waste (CellMatt)
• Digestate following anaerobic digestion
• Greenhouse waste (agricultural residue)
• Green waste
• Pig manure
Each of the feedstocks were sourced in sufficient quantities to allow biochar and hydrochar samples to be produced at ECN (pyrolysis and gasification) and Leeds (pyrolysis and hydrothermal carbonization). A description of the different feedstock and justification for inclusion in Fertiplus was described in D3.2.
Task 3.2.- Biochar production and characterization
Analytical methods for biochar characterization were developed early in the project via D3.1 (Provision of small amounts of biochar for laboratory trials) and suitable protocols were identified for investigating nutrient dynamics, agronomic and environmental properties. A set of well characterized biomass were sourced for production of biochar and hydrochar as part of D3.2 (Supply of a set of well characterized biomass). A range of biochar and hydrochar prepared from different feedstocks and under different pyrolysis conditions were produced and are described in detail in D3.3 (Supply of a set of functionalised biochars). The influence of waste pre-treatment such as AD and thermal treatments is investigated and described in D3.4 (Influence of pre-treatment on composition and fate of nutrients). An investigation into the fate of nutrients during pre-treatment was performed based on the available materials. Pre-treated biomass typically has a high ash content resulting in elevated levels of P, but results in high ash containing biochar.
Characterization of feedstocks and biochar for agronomical utilization included organic matter, ashes, total C and N, water soluble C and N, pH, electrical conductivity, CEC and soil incubation tests and field trials (WP4) and for environmental suitability included PAH, PCB, dioxins, pesticides and total heavy metals content. A full description of the biochar properties from the different feedstocks is reported in D3.5 (Data set on biochar experiments). Biochar characteristics are linked to (a) feedstock (b) process and (c) modification (physical/chemical activation) which can improve nutrient adsorption capacity, surface area, porosity and CEC. Biochars and hydrochars show different physical and chemical properties and are likely to have complementary behavior when added to soil. Biochar properties also vary widely depending upon the feedstock and the processing conditions. The main results highlight that the agronomical properties and environmental safety of biochars greatly depends on feedstocks and pyrolysis conditions. In particular, source separation of organic wastes resulted in higher organic C content and lower heavy metal content. Biochars obtained at lower temperatures have a lower ash and C content, while chars derived by hydrothermal carbonisation show acidic functionality.
Biochar was produced at ECN, ULE and large samples were supplied (8 tonnes) by the industrial partner Proininso meeting deliverable D 3.6 (Provision of large samples of biochar for evaluation in WP4). Biochars were produced in (1) an auger type slow pyrolyser at 400 oC & 600 oC (2) a modified pilot fluidised bed gasifier, at 670 oC & 750 oC (continuous biochar production), (3) a hydrothermal carbonisation reactor, applying high pressure at 250 oC for 1 hr at a feed/water loading of 10 wt.% and (4) a slow pyrolysis large scale unit. The Fertiplus project has produced significant amounts of reference biochar for large scale field trials and enabled full scale composing / biochar trials to be undertaken. The general properties observed for biochar and hydrochar are summarised in Figure 3. There is a clear distinction among the biochars produced in each reactor type, as shown in the Van Krevelen diagram in Figure 4. Figure 5 shows the measured PAHs according to the EPA 16 PAH definition and the results show that most biochars are below the threshold proposed by IBI and EBC. The PAH content is mainly process related. The recalcitrance index, which is a measure of the lifetime of biochar in the soil, predicts that HTC hydrochars are less stable than pyrolysis biochars, as shown in Figure 6, as Class B chars (0.50 ≤ R50 < 0.70 pyrolysis biochars) are more recalcitrant than Class C chars (R50 < 0.50 HTC biochars). Finally, in the pyrolysis & gasification biochars an increase in macronutrients, micronutrients and heavy metals was noted, which is feedstock related, while in the HTC chars the increase in some macronutrients (Ca, P) and micronutrients (Fe, Mn and Zn) is process related, the balances confirm elements in the effluent water.
The reference biochar used in Fertiplus and produced in WP3 is a representative highly porous, low ash, low nutrient content biochar. It has low levels of PAH, WEOC, WEON and heavy metals and is safe for field trials. Municipal waste derived biochars are higher in heavy metals and have a higher PAH content. Biochars from wastes such as digestate and greenwaste have a high ash content and would be described as ash containing biochar. In general, biochar exhibit low CEC, the higher temperature biochars exhibit less functionality, but exhibit higher stability. Lower temperature biochars exhibit higher functionality and have a higher nutrient retention potential based upon CEC. Ash is enriched in the char as the pyrolysis temperature increases resulting in a higher pH. In general, biochars are alkali whereas hydrochars are exclusively acidic. Hydrochars contain significantly higher amounts of extractable hydrocarbons than biochars however the levels of PAH are similar to biochars. Hydrothermal carbonisation reduces the levels of alkali metals in the biochars such as K and Na and reduces P content. Low temperature gasification biochars contain high levels of carbon and are stable compared to biochars however yields are relatively low compared to pyrolysis. The addition of air and steam during either pyrolysis or gasification appears to affect the properties of the char and increase porosity and functionality. Based on the definitions of biochar set out in the “European Biochar Certificate” some of the biochars produced in Fertiplus are classed as “pyrolysis ash including biochar” as the levels of C are too low.
In summary, the nutrient content (N, P, K) in the chars are all low with the exception of the manure biochar. The lower temperature chars have a lower ash content and lower C content, but higher CEC. There is evidence that the CEC is increased when oxygen is leaked into the system as demonstrated by the results from experiments in 1% O2. The high ash biochars also exhibit high CEC using the methods employed and this could be significant. The surface area for slow pyrolysis chars is low, probably due to pore blocking, but it is known that higher surface area biochars can be produced from these feedstock. The levels of extractable organic hydrocarbons are highest for the HTC chars followed by the pyrolysis chars at 400 oC and are lowest for the higher temperature chars produced at 600 oC. The PAH content is higher for the pyrolysis chars at 650 oC compared to the lower temperature pyrolysis and HTC chars. The additional extractable C is largely oxygenates and there is evidence that some of this material may be of high molecular weight. Safe and effective utilization of biochar requires full characterization of the agronomical and environmental properties. Furthermore, to gain farmer confidence towards this rather new product and to favour and promote its widespread utilization, it is important to define a minimum set of agronomical and environmental properties that a biochar must fulfill in order to be commercially viable. WP3 activity has clearly demonstrated that given appropriate feedstock and pyrolysis conditions, biochar represents an environmentally safe material than can be applied to soil with a significant potential for restoring and maintaining soil organic matter, increasing soil fertility and nutrient recovery and offsetting climate change.
The nutrient retention behaviour of biochar and chemically modified biochar have been investigated to understand the interaction of biochar and hydrochar with nutrients and is described in detail in D3.8 (Data set on adsorption trials for biochar and potential for recuperation of nutrients). A number of potential applications for augmentation of biochar have been identified with the potential to facilitate nutrient recovery. Large scale trials investigating the potential for recuperating nutrients from AD digestate have been performed by OWS together with an assessment of the use of biochar in odour control and in AD. Trials have also been performed at BUW on the influence of biochar in dry anaerobic digestion. The potential for tuning the functionality of biochar and its influence on recuperating N + P via adsorption has been demonstrated. Methodologies for measuring the influence of biochar functionality and composition on nutrient retention are proposed. The potential for improving the agronomic value of biochar and enhancement of the cation exchange capacity (CEC) and phosphate sorption has been demonstrated.
Investigation of the nutrient retention mechanisms indicate that surface functionality is important and that this can be enhanced by chemical modification. Methods developed for CEC indicate that biochars produced from different feedstock have different affinities for nutrient retention. The results indicate a potential for modification of biochar functionality and there is evidence that this can enhance nutrient retention. Biochar can be augmented into anaerobic digestion and composting at a number of points resulting in interaction with either aqueous phase nutrients or gaseous phase odours.
Task 3.3.- Innovative improvements to the traditional composting systems
Task 3.3 involves experiments aimed to demonstrate the potential for innovative improvements to the traditional composting systems by blending biochar during or after composting. The results from all the experiments performed are collated in D3.7 (Innovative improvements to the traditional composting systems by blending biochar during or after composting). Work has focussed on laboratory, medium and full scale experiments using a series of biochars previously obtained and characterised in WP3. The interaction of biochar in the production of compost and the assessment of the effect on nutrient release rates, compost quality, fate of nutrients (leaching, volatilisation, recycling) and the environmental impact during composting (greenhouse gas emission and C footprint) have been investigated by ILVO and CRA. Since the biochar is characterised by a high OM content, mixing biochar into the feedstock (at the start of the composting process) or the compost (during storage) increases the OM content of the mixture. Adding biochar to the feedstock mixture at the beginning of the composting process is expected to affect gaseous emissions and nutrient losses, i.e. the hypothesis is that both gaseous emissions and nutrient losses will be reduced by adding biochar. To assess the effects of biochar addition to feedstocks at the beginning of the composting process or to mature compost, a full-scale composting trial has been combined with a medium-scale compost storage trial (CRA and ILVO). Measurement of GHG emissions were made from the full scale composting trials as reported in WP4 (CRA).
Two full scale trials on the effects of biochar on composting were performed, in cooperation between CRA and ILVO, during September-December 2013 and December 2014-February 2015 at the composting plant of ISA Isontina Ambiente (Moraro, Gorizia, Italy). The trials involved the comparison of the common feedstock mixture treated in the plant (source separated fraction of MSW and green waste - 50:50 w:w) with the same mixture with biochar added at a rate of 10 % as dry weight of the whole composting mixture. CRA has been responsible for the setting up and management of the trials. During the trials, CRA carried out regular monitoring of process parameters and GHG emissions. Solid samples were also taken at significant points of the process for physical, biological and chemical characterization mainly carried out by ILVO and, in addition, a trial to assess the NH4+ adsorption capacity of biochar was also performed. The end products of the first trial (regular compost and biochar blended compost) were utilized in laboratory and field trials performed during WP4 activities.
The results of the large scale composting trials undertaken at CRA indicated that the main improvements to the traditional composting system achieved by blending biochar to the feedstocks before the onset of the composting process include:
• Enhanced rate of organic matter decomposition and more regular development of the composting process. The faster organic matter decomposition, particularly during the bio-oxidative phase of the process, did not affect the total OM losses in comparison to the usual feedstock mixture. The faster decomposition has been attributed to the sorption of NH3, NH4+, H2S and/or SO4- by the biochar, which reduced the inhibition of the decomposition process. The enhanced rate of decomposition is of particular economic relevance as it would allow reduction in the duration of the composting process with consequent saving of cost and space.
• Significant reduction of N losses due to the interaction of the applied biochar with NH3 and NH4+and increased P availability. These results highlight the fact that adding biochar to the composting mixtures enhances the fertilizer value of the end product.
• Reduction or no effect on GHG emissions depending on the specific gas and conditions of the composting process.
Figure 7 shows the impact of biochar addition on the cumulative emission of CO2, CH4 and N2O during the first composting trial. The results show that the addition of biochar to the composting mixture always resulted in lower emissions, particularly for CH4. The reduction in cumulative emissions were equal to 53, 95 and 14% for CO2, CH4 and N2O, respectively.
The use of biochar changes the properties of the compost, and the effect is dependent on the point at which the biochar is added, i.e. if the biochar is added during or after the composting process. This will affect the plant availability of nutrients upon application to soils and crops When biochar is added to mature compost, it affects N and P availability, therefore changing the value of the end product as a fertilizer.
The application of biochar in vermicomposting was tested for the effects on vermicompost quality, and humus tea extraction by GERESUR. It was found that the addition of biochar also had a positive influence on the vermicompost process. Mixtures of vermicompost and biochar in a 1:1 ratio resulted in a higher end product quality, as it enhanced pH, increased the organic matter content, improved the porosity, and increased the content of organic carbon and the C/N ratio.

The influence of biochar on compost storage (nutrient losses and availability) has been investigated by ILVO. Biochar was added to a mixture of (i) green waste compost and (ii) chicken manure compost and the effect of biochar addition of the levels of ammonia emissions was measured together with the effects on C/P ratio and OM (ILVO). Methods were developed at ULE for measuring ammonia adsorption and the results indicate that the lower temperature biochars and hydrochars have a higher propensity for ammonia adsorption due to their higher surface functionality.
To summarise, the results indicate that adding biochar to the feedstock mixture before composting represents an effective improvement to the traditional composting system especially in the case of N-rich organic wastes, as it may reduce process costs, nutrient losses and GHG emissions, without affecting the quality of the end product. The results have demonstrated that biochar promotes increased process efficiency, lower nutrient losses, increased P availability and reduced GHG emissions. Therefore biochar utilization in the composting process brings both economic benefits due to the faster decomposition that reduces time and space requirement at the composting plant and environmental benefits. Blending C-rich biochar to the feedstock mixtures (10% on dry matter base) before the onset of composting resulted in an enhanced rate of organic matter decomposition. By blending C-rich biochar in mature compost (at the end of the composting process) the readily available P in the tested composts was reduced, and the C content was increased. The reduction of readily available P in compost was highest for biochar with a high C/P ratio and Ca content. Opportunities have been identified for the application of biochar through processes such as composting, silage and anaerobic digestion rather than applying it directly to soil. Soil application of compost prepared by mixing biochar with others by-products from bioenergy processes could represent an economically and environmentally valuable strategy as it solves organic waste disposal problems, maximizes the agronomic potential of organic residues and decreases their potential adverse environmental impacts.

Impact of WP3 on other WPs
WP3 has provided a series of well characterized samples of biochar for use in agronomic trials in WP4. Samples of biochar and hydrochar have undergone incubation tests in WP4 to determine the stability of the additive and the fate of potential pollutants it contains. The general agronomic and environmental properties of materials from different wastes have been evaluated and large samples of biochar and compost have been generated in WP3 for use in five different field trials in WP4. Large amounts of biochar have been supplied from a commercial scale biochar plant and used in full scale composting and crop growth trials. WP3 has enabled a detailed understanding of the effect of biochar on the composting process including composting rates and emissions of GHG.  WP3 has provided detailed understanding of the biochar function and generated an insight of the benefits of combining biochar with compost. Data from experiments from WP3 on energy and material balances, GHG emissions and integration options were provided for use in WP5 to develop an LCA on the environmental impact od soil amendment with biochar, compost and biochar blended compost. The data generated for the LCA has identified the benefits of combining biochar with the composting process. WP3 has also identified new routes for the  incorporation of biochar into other waste conversion processes.

WP4 Main Scientific and Technical Results
Work Undertaken
WP4 was concerned with the agronomical and environmental evaluation of biochar, compost and biochar blended compost. The agronomical benefits and risks were evaluated based on different aspects of soil fertility and nutrient cycling, crop nutritional status and productivity, soil health and pathogen/disease suppression. On the other hand, the environmental benefits and risks were also evaluated based on C cycling and soil C stabilization, soil greenhouse gas emissions and the fate of heavy metals and selected organic persistent pollutants (PAH).
WP4 activities included:

• Laboratory scale experiments to allow the evaluation and screening of a series of biochars previously obtained and characterised in WP3. Different soil incubation experiments and bioassays were performed to evaluate the effect of a wide range of biochars in soils, and their interaction with mineral fertilisers and organic amendments. The data generated were reported in Deliverable 4.1- Data set on laboratory scale experiments for biochar.
• Laboratory scale experiments for the assessment of the interaction of biochar with compost. For this purpose two feedstock formulations were chosen (biowaste + green waste compost and olive-mill waste compost) and the reference biochar was added to the composting mixtures either at the beginning or at the end of the composting process. Different soil incubation experiments and bioassays were performed to evaluate the agronomical benefits of biochar and biochar-blended composts, their fertiliser replacement value and the potential impact on P-leaching after long term application. The data generated were reported in Deliverable 4.2- Data set on laboratory scale experiments for composts and biochar blended composts.
• Field scale experiments aimed to evaluate biochar, composts and biochar blended composts for a range of crops and agroclimatic conditions of relevance for extensive areas of Europe. The crops investigated included: olive orchards evaluated in South Spain by CSIC; vineyards, assessed by CRA in North Italy; a rotation of cereals, vegetables and grassland assessed by ILVO in Belgium; tomato as an example of intensive agriculture in greenhouses, assessed by TECNOVA in South Spain. The data generated were reported in Deliverable 4.3- Data set on field scale experiments.

Scientific and Technical Results
Task. 4.1.- Nutritional aspects of biochar, compost and biochar blended compost application and Task. 4.3.- Evaluation of C and N cycles involved in soil C immobilization and greenhouse gas emissions at lab scale experiments.
The aim of laboratory trials was to assess the agronomical (C and N cycling, nutrients availability, biochemical properties) and environmental (GHG emissions, heavy metal availability) impacts of soil amendment with biochars (from different feedstocks and pyrolysis conditions), compost and biochar blended compost and to study the interaction of biochar and compost with other organic amendments. Results showed that the main drivers facilitating the amendment properties of biochars are the ash content and the lignocellulosic component and pre-treatment of feedstocks, in agreement with WP3 findings. In particular, biochar from lignocellulosic feedstocks presents very favourable properties in terms of climate change offsetting, due to the high potential for soil C sequestration and the decrease of soil N2O emissions.

The results of the laboratory trials confirmed the positive environmental effects of biochar in building up organic C in soils, reported in the specific literature. However the impact on agronomical aspects, such as soil nutrient cycles and plant growth, were limited in the agricultural soils tested. Biochar from different feedstocks had roughly similar impact on reducing N availability and increasing P solubility in soils. The main impact was found in the interaction of biochar with mineral and organic fertilizers and organic amendments. In the case of organic fertilizers and amendments biochar affected organic matter mineralization, and soil N dynamics, N2O emissions and N related enzyme activity, by reducing N availability and increasing P solubility, without posing a risk in terms of heavy metals mobilisation. In general, there were no differences between compost and biochar blended compost in terms of agronomical properties. However results of N2O emissions strongly suggest the advantage of adding biochar to the feedstocks of the composting process rather than to the stable compost.

The P efficiency of compost, biochar-blended compost and compost mixed with biochar is relatively low compared to other organic wastes. The addition of biochar to mature composts (after the composting process) further decreased the P efficiency of the compost itself. On the contrary, the addition of biochar at the beginning of the composting process slightly increased compost P efficiency. Leaching experiments performed in a long term field experiment indicate that farmers can use compost additions to amend soils with suboptimal SOC levels to increase the C content without inducing extra P leaching in North-western soils of Europe with a high P load.

Field trials were performed to test the validity of the results obtained under laboratory conditions for different cropping systems under different climatic conditions in Europe. A field scale experiment at the CSIC facilities was set-up in May 2013 in which biochar and a mixture of biochar and olive mill waste compost were applied in an organic olive orchard and compared with a control with no fertilisation and another treatment with olive mill waste composts, which represents the typical fertilisation management in the area. The results at the end of the third year of the trial showed that biochar and biochar/compost mixture treatments led to the highest and most persistent increase in soil organic matter. On the contrary, dissolved organic C (DOC) was always higher in compost amended plots and positively correlated with denitrifying enzymatic activity. No significant differences were found in crop yield and nutritional status (tested by foliar analysis) among the treatments, even though the compost and biochar/compost mixture treatments led to highest N concentration in plants at the end of the experiment (July 2015). Regarding the impact on soil greenhouse gas emissions, this experiment showed that under this type of agro-ecosystem N2O emissions are negligible, even after compost application, which increased dissolved organic C and soluble N, without a parallel increase in N2O emissions. The application of a compost/biochar mixture showed a synergistic impact on the microbial processes transforming N in soil.

Field scale experiments at the CRA facilities, involving amendment of 3 vineyard soils with biochar, biowaste plus green waste compost and biochar blended compost, were set-up in May 2013 and completed in September 2015. The composts utilized derived from the full-scale compost trial in Italy (WP3). The treatments involving amendments were compared with a control and two fertilizers (an organo-mineral and a slow-release N fertilizer). At the end of the third year of the trial all the amendments still sustained the increase in SOM recorded in the first year of the trial. Amendments were also effective in improving the soil water content during the growing season. Application of composts and biochar blended compost had a positive impact on nutrient cycling, as it enhanced the content of easily available C, extractable and mineral N and available P, K and Fe and soil microorganisms content and enzymatic activity. Compost and biochar blended compost provided a low, but regular supply of available N throughout the whole vegetative season. Compost application also affected crop vegetative status and productivity, producing an increase in canopy activity, grape production, number of clusters per vine and cluster weight. Compost application was also effective on crop quality as it improved, as it improved must acidity and N content, specifically in situation of soil N deficiency, and decreased sugar content.

In the biochar field trial at VLAGEW (ILVO) the reference biochar was applied to the field in October 2012, and the biowaste plus green waste compost and biochar-blended compost from the full-scale compost trial in Italy (WP3) were applied to the field in September 2013. The main long-term change in soil characteristics were an increase in pH and soil organic C in the top layer after applying biochar, compost and biochar-blended compost, while no change in general soil quality was found, nor for soil biology, soil fertility or disease suppressiveness. Compost, biochar-blended compost and biochar rich in Ca had a lower P fertilizer replacement value than animal manure and processed digestates. The soil BOPACT field trial was intensively sampled in autumn 2014 for monitoring changes in soil biological, physical and chemical characteristics after 5 years, and all analyses were finished by the end of May 2015. The leaching experiment on the BOPACT field trial indicated that there were no significant effects of compost additions on top of cattle or pig slurry on soil P availability and P leaching. This indicates that farmers can use compost additions to amend stable organic matter on top of cattle or pig slurry to soils with suboptimal SOC levels, without inducing extra P leaching. From the BOPACT field trial it was concluded that yearly application of plant-based compost for more than 4 years resulted in a better soil quality in terms of soil biological, chemical and physical aspects. From the BIOCHAR field trial it was concluded that a single application of biochar, compost or biochar-blended compost resulted in a higher C content in the topsoil and did not affect pH, bulk density or soil biology.

The field scale experiment at TECNOVA was started in September 2013 for the evaluation of different soil amendments using biochar in combination with semi-dried manure during a tomato crop developed with the application of conventional practices of irrigation and fertilisation in a high-input farming system in a greenhouse. The main results of the first year experiment were: similar and suitable biomass production, yield and quality parameters of fruits was obtained in all treatments during the first year experiment, and no relevant change in soil fertility was found. In August 2014 a second tomato crop experiment was set-up to study the impact of soil amendments developed using biochar and semi-dried manure under two different irrigation and fertilisation strategies (a conventional strategy and a reduced strategy, with applications of 30% less amount of water and mineral fertilisers). The main conclusions of the second experiment were: i) similar and suitable soil fertility of the soil after a single application of the soil amendment; ii) higher nitrates concentration in the soil and higher N content in plants developed with the application of biochar and a reduced strategy; iii) suitable and similar aerial biomass production and yield with the application of different amounts of biochar; and iv) improvement of some postharvest quality parameters in tomato fruits with the use of biochar (weight, diameter and hardness). In intensive greenhouse systems the substitution of a proportion of manure with biochar applied periodically as a soil amendment along with an appropriate irrigation strategy has proven to be an interesting option to maintain the soil fertility and to reduce the nitrates leaching produced from intensive horticulture areas.

Task. 4.2.- Other agronomical benefits of biochar, compost and biochar blended compost application and Task. 4.4.- Fate of persistent pollutants associated to the use of biochar and biochar- blended compost
Trials performed to evaluate the effects on plant diseases, pathogens and crop productivity of biochar, compost and biochar blended compost showed the following general impact:
Compost: suppressiveness: crop yield:
Biochar blended compost: suppressiveness: ≈ crop yield:
Biochar: suppressiveness: ≈ crop yield: ≈

More specifically, a single biochar application showed soil suppressiveness against fungal disease on strawberry and nematodes on rice, while a single compost application showed to be suppressive against potato cyst nematodes. In addition, repeated compost applications showed to be suppressive against basal rot on lettuce caused by Botrytis cinerea.
In general, either single or repeated compost applications showed to be suppressive against a range of plant diseases and pathogens. Such significant reductions in disease point out to the fact that compost can be an environmentally-friendly alternative to reduce the amount of pesticides used in the field and compost application to soil can be implemented in integrated pest management (IPM) of soil-borne diseases.
However, in this research bio-assays with artificial inoculations were used. Field experiments with natural infections and reduced pesticide use are needed to confirm these statements.

Laboratory and field scale experiments confirmed the low risk of heavy metal contamination of biochar, compost and biochar blended compost provided they derive from clean sources and they are applied in accordance to QA schemes.

Tested biochar in field scale experiments did not contain human pathogens and did not represent any sanitary risk for its use in the soil.

Impact of WP4 on other WPs
WP4 experiments facilitated the screening of the agronomical properties of a large number of the biochars prepared by WP3 with different feedstocks and pyrolysis conditions. Feedback from WP4 allowed the adaptation of some of the production conditions and pre-treatment of the feedstocks to obtain desirable and enhanced biochar properties. Data from field scale experiments were used to feed the Life Cycle Assessment performed in WP5 and the practical experience gained in laboratory and field scale experiments on the agricultural use of biochar and biochar-blended composts were used for the preparation of the guidelines for best agricultural practices, compiled by WP5.

WP5 Main Scientific and Technical Results

Work Undertaken
WP5 was concerned with assessing the sustainability of different aspects of the project and the efficient product application. The objectives for the work package were to perform a life cycle analysis of the products, processes and applications studied in the project, to define guidelines for the safe utilization of the end products and to carry out an economic and feasibility study to assess the viability of the applications in agriculture.
The definitial of farmer requirements for organic amendments were determined by a questionnaire with the evaluation of samples from each farming system of the European Region. This information (D.5.1.) was used to help WP3 to tailor the characteristics and properties of the alternatives and end-products produced. A life cycle assessment (D.5.2.) of the end products considering all processes involved, from waste collection, pre-treatments and production methodologies up to final agricultural use have been performed with five scenarios of application, using data from experiments carried out in the project. Although further research is needed to present conclusive data, results show that biochar –blended compost is a promising alternative for agriculture.
To carry out an economical and feasibility study, the European Biochar Market has been characterized (D.5.3.) with the active participation of the biochar industry which has provided data on production, sales, profile of their customers… Results show an incipient and young market with high prices and low acceptance in large farming. The study is complemented by an economical evaluation of processes (D.5.5) considering different scenarios for investments and applications.
Finally, WP5 has integrated the main and remarkable results of the project in guidelines for best practice and safe use of the developed products (D.5.4.).

Scientific and Technical Results

Task. 5.1.- Life- Cycle Analysis (LCA)
The key objective of WP5 regarding LCA is “To perform a life-cycle analysis of composts, biochars and biochar-blended composts considering all the processes involved from waste collection, pre-treatment and production methodologies up to the final agricultural use”. For this purpose, FERTIPLUS products (Compost, Biochar and Biochar blended compost) have been analysed using a Life Cycle Assessment methodology (LCA), a technique that quantifies the potential environmental impact or saving of a product, system or service over its entire life, from cradle to grave.
The aim of the research was to evaluate the environmental impact of recovering nutrients and sequestering C in the soil from urban or farm organic material which is considered as waste or by-product, through pyrolysis or/and composting to produce biochar, compost and biochar-compost blend to be utilised in agriculture. For this we have set up an Life Cycle Assessment and examined and used five separate case studies in Europe in a Life cycle assessment.
The LCA has been carried following the four stage LCA methodology set out in ISO standards, 2006a/b: ISO 14040:2006 (principles and framework) and ISO 14044:2006 (requirements and guidelines), (1) goal and scope definition; (2) inventory analysis; (3) impact assessment; and, (4) interpretation. This study has been modelled using GaBi v.6 software (Thinkstep, 2015).
(1) Goal and scope definition
The goal of this study was to assess the potential environmental impact of producing fertiliser by recycling organic materials via two technologies, composting and pyrolysis (biochar via pyrolysis, compost via windrow and biochar-compost blend via a mix of pyrolysis and composting) and then applying the resulting organic products as fertilizer on agricultural soils in three countries, and five locations (Spain, Italy (Buttrio, Spessa and Lonzano) and Belgium). This was compared against applying a mineral fertiliser (control/business-as-normal). Figure 8 shows the scenario diagram that summarizes the flow chart followed for the analysis: Four product systems were studied, (i) pyrolysis, that had a feedstock of a woody material; (ii) compost system (windrow) that had a feedstock of bio-waste. (iii) a pyrolysis/compost system that produces a blended product that is a mix of both systems (i) and (ii); and (iv) mineral fertiliser production system.
(2) Inventory analysis
Inventory of data of the different scenarios (Table 1) has been provided by Fertiplus partners and additionally some peer reviewed bibliographic data has been used where necessary.
(3) Impact assessment
The study takes into consideration emissions that affect the environmental impact categories (i) Global warming potential (GWP); (ii) Acidification potential (AP); and (iii) Eutrophication potential (EP). These impact categories were chosen as they are relevant to the data collected in this study and appropriate for identification of key issues in nutrient recovery and soil C sequestration on a global/regional scale (Bernstad and la Cour Jansen, 2011). The contribution analysis was broken into four stages: feedstock collection; processing; distribution and application; and benefits including electricity generated (biochar and blend), carbon abated, NPK avoided and landfill avoided.

(4) Interpretation
Biochar, compost and biochar-compost blend were all found to be environmentally beneficial. Biochar recycles carbon and phosphorus, whilst compost recycles carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, a blend of both resulted in a balance between the two. This study looks also a combination of biochar and compost, and shows that creation of a blended product that offers great potential as an alternative in climate smart agriculture and nutrient neutrality. It was shown in two different approaches, ie. amendment without mineral fertiliser, and amendment with mineral fertiliser that the blend results in a cumulative lower environmental impact (GWP, EP and AP) with the application of biochar and compost amendments produced and applied separately and in comparison to its fossil alternative. Hotspots and assumptions within the processing system (compost, pyrolysis) could be reduced by the co-location of technologies where a synergy was identified. No one treatment resulted in the lowest impact across all treatments in all scenarios. Biochar resulted in the lowest impact in seven of the fifteen scenarios. Treatments were ranked and cumulated, which resulted in blend treatment being most favourable.

Task 5.2.- Defining the best practices for a safe use of compost, biochar and compost-blended biochar in agriculture.
Guidelines have been defined using the results of the FERTIPLUS project which are useful for farmers, industry and policy makers. These guidelines have integrated the results and highlighted messages from all the developments and research carried out in the lifetime of the project.

Task .3.Economical evaluation and study of the feasibility of the processes.
The key objective of task 5.3. was to study farmers requirements and acceptance of new products, to evaluate and characterize the European Biochar market and to study the economic feasibility of the processes.

The first activity was a questionnaire addressed to farmers, to evaluate biochar knowledge around Europe in different cropping systems. It was concluded that in the European Region there is a lack of knowledge of farmers about the product and its characteristics (figure 9) and good interest on new organic amendments and solutions to solve the soil fertility problem have been identified.
However more information about the dynamic of biochar in the soil, the results in terms of yields or quality of the fruits, and similar quotations to other organic amendments as compost was demanded (figure 10).
Communication and consultation with farmers was maintained through different activities organised by the project such as the Farmers Workshop (figure 11) held in Almería on November 2015 and the donation of biochar to a greenhouse farmer who is going to test and is evaluating this product in his farm.
The European biochar market has been characterized by consulting economic publications and deploying a questionnaire to biochar producers. The main results from this are:
• The main feedstock used by European biochar industry is woody biomass (46%);
• Europe represents 20% of the global market, with 58 companies (as of2015) in Europe associated with the biochar industry. However this is a very incipient market, with low production capacity which attends mainly to research centres and high- price segment of the market with small amounts sold to home gardeners.
• The United Kingdom and Germany are the most active European countries involved in the biochar market (figure 12)
• Economic viability studies of biochar production needs additional data in order to develop an accurate analysis, however data provided by biochar producers shows low profitability of the investments and high prices for the product, which are not viable for its use in large applications in open field.

Impact of WP5 on other WPs
WP5 has interacted and impacted with all work packages in order to collect data for the life cycle analysis and providing guidelines for best practices.
The economical analysis and market acceptance study, with information from farmer perspective and current status of European Biochar market has been useful for WP3 to define the products to be performed within the project and to define future strategies to be developed.

Main expected impacts and dissemination activities

The results of WP2 provide the frame within the reduction of mineral fertilizers and chemicals through compost and biochar can be realized. Should the production of compost and biochar be limited to bio-waste as feedstock, the potential to replace mineral fertilizers and chemicals would be very low. On the other hand, the overall use of this resource in the EU is far from reaching its technical potential, with very different recycling rates throughout Member States. The recommendations for the further mobilization of this feedstock therefore support no large-scale application of biochar and compost, but instead specific uses for specific soil-crop constellations. As a positive side effect, this would reduce waste management costs and help to pave the way to a European recycling economy.
In addition to the recycling of bio-waste, the utilization of organic residues from agriculture for compost and biochar could strongly reduce the dependence on mineral fertilizers. Although WP2 has shown that most residues are already recycled within agriculture, there are nonetheless alternative ways to handle these residues. This includes a more efficient management of nutrients with the appropriate use of compost and biochar technologies. In this regard, a better link between urban and rural material flows and the following exchange of technological and organizational approaches could further support a sustainable European agriculture.
WP3 has developed a better understanding of the impact of feedstock and production process on the functionality of the final biochar product. This will allow biochar to be ‘designed’ to match end-user requirements and will improve consumer confidence in biochar as a product and potentially increase the market for biochar products.
Furthermore it has contributed to a detailed understanding of the effect of biochar on the composting process and has identified the potential for biochar to reduce GHG emissions during the composting process. This will have an impact on climate change and reducing ammonia emissions during composting will also allow waste management operators to improve their odour control.
And has developed a greater understanding of how biochar affects the anaerobic digestion process and in particular its positive impact on process control. Better AD process control will allow operators to process larger volumes of organic waste and will increase the rates of organic waste recycling.
WP4 has achieved an agronomical and environmental evaluation of biochar, compost and biochar blended compost for different European agro-climatic regions based on different aspects of soil fertility, crop productivity and quality, soil health and pathogen/disease suppression, GHG emissions and fate of persistent organic and inorganic pollutants. This will allow adapting some of the production conditions and pre-treatment of the feedstocks to obtain desirable and enhanced biochar properties, developing guidelines for best agricultural practices for a safe and effective use of amendments and providing useful indication to land mangers and policy makers aimed to guarantee the sustainability and safety of agricultural ecosystems.
At the light of the results of WP4, Fertiplus has shown a positive and synergistic interaction of biochar with organic amendments in soils, causing a positive impact on soil microbial processes. On a whole biochars, compost and biochar blended compost were effective in decreasing N2O emissions from soil amended with organic fertilizers, digestates and manures. This is relevant as a management option to counteract the negative impact of the increasing utilization as soil amendments of readily degradable bioenergy by-products, that were found to be particularly susceptible to increase soil N2O emissions. In none of the pot or field trials, negative effects of pure biochar application were observed on crop performance or soil quality, health and pollutant levels. The risks related to biochar application are thus low, on condition that the quality of the biochar production is checked by QA schemes.
The evaluation of biochar application in different agro-climatic regions in Europe allowed to find the site specific impact of biochar.
Results of Fertiplus trials confirmed the potential of biochar for soil C sequestration in all the tested agro-climatic regions.

To finish, the results of WP5 show that the Life cycle assessment developed has provided information to evaluate the environmental impact of recovering nutrients and sequestering C in the soil from urban and farm organic material, which is considered as waste or by-product, through pyrolysis or/and composting to produce biochar, compost and biochar-compost blend to be utilised in agriculture.

WP5 has provided valuable information in relation to farmers knowledge and perception, about organic amendments in the soil and their requirements for adopting new solutions.
The European Market of Biochar has been characterized.

Support decision tools for investment decision have been provided through the economic analysis of different scenarios.

The best practices guidelines summarize and remark the most promising and important result from Fertiplus project.

During the project lifetime, FERTIPLUS has reached the following groups and categories of stakeholders (Table 2), that have benefited.

FERTIPLUS has also established a close relationship with other similar FP7 projects, such as REUSEWASTE, CANTOGETHER, REFERTIL, INEMAD and the BIOREFINE Cluster that worked in parallel to build stronger results and reach a wider audience.

Impact of WP6: Dissemination activities and exploitation results

During its lifetime, FERTIPLUS set out various dissemination activities aimed at promoting its research and at reaching the widest audience possible.
The dissemination plan was written by IDC during the first months of the project, and was updated in year 2 and 3, according to the identification of newproject needs. The dissemination plan was delivered to the EC in June 2012 and the original and the updated version have been distributed to all partners, and are available in project management system for everyone use. The plan itself defined the audience for dissemination and described the main dissemination tools and activities such as :
• Website (Task 6.1)
• Development of a public programme: organisation of FERTIPLUS public conferences, events and publications (Task 6.2)
• Logo & PPT and dissemination templates (Task 6.1)
• Social Networks (Task 6.1)
• Stakeholders list (Task 6.2)
• Meetings with participants of other projects (Task 6.2)
• Dissemination at events (Task 6.2).
• Leaflet (Task 6.3)
• Video (Task 6.3)
• Posters (Task 6.3)
• FERTIPLUS forum for partners and stakeholders discussion (Task 6.3)
• FERTIPLUS ebulletin (Task 6.4).

FERTIPLUS individual presentations and posters presented at the different events where FERTIPLUS has been presented, as well as any other dissemination material elaborated for the project are stored in the dissemination area of the project website. Standard presentation templates were design and have been used to make sure that a unified design is preserved.

Dissemination Materials and Tools

Task 6.1 Building an information and communications infrastructure for FERTIPLUS.
• Official Website: The official FERTIPLUS project website has been available since April 2012 at
The objective of this website is to provide information regarding the project objectives, progress and results to the public. The website was created and is frequently updated by IDC with the support of all partners. The website will be maintained for 1 year after the project ends.
The project website has recorded more than 73.250 visits and includes two management systems that help IDC to study the website dynamics. Those systems, BAL.PM analytics which was established in April 2013, and Google Analytics which was established in March 2014, contribute to the effective management and study of the website dynamics and visitors influence.

• Logo, PPT and dissemination templates: A project logo was created to maintain the corporate identity of the project to make it easily recognised by the project stakeholders. Templates for partners’ presentations and deliverables were designed to ensure the proper dissemination and promotion, and reporting of the project.

• Social Networks: FERTIPLUS joined Twitter in February 2012. Since then, partners have actively participated by making small publications on the project, especially in the field experiments located in Spain, Belgium and Italy. Other news related with conferences, events publications and other important issues related with the project have occupied the main lines of the social networks

Task 6.2 Development of a publication programme

• Stakeholders list: Prior to establishing any dissemination activity, it was crucial to have a list of the main stakeholders that will be interested in the project. During the first months of the project, a stakeholders list was defined and filled with the contact data of all relevant stakeholders. These stakeholders were frequently contacted during the project lifetime. During this time, stakeholders were informed about the main project events, and received notification of the latest publications, websites updates, newsletters, video, etc.
Initiallyst several stakeholders groups were defined, however and as the project was getting consistency, the stakeholders list was re-defined and the different stakeholders were classify according with their interests and the benefit they can get from the project, as so the feedback they can give to FERTIPLUS: Government and Policy Makers, Entities related with the management of residues, End Users (Farmers, Civil organizations (ecological organizations) and Domestic use), Universities & Research Institutes and Industry.
During the project, different roles were assigned to stakeholders, distinguishing those who only want to get information (newsletters) or the ones that were more interested on participating in FERTIPLUS events.

• Project workshops and final conference: Several workshops with external agents where held during the last two years of the project.
• FERTIPLUS 2nd Science Camp: In June 18-20, 2014 FERTIPLUS celebrated its 2nd Science Camp which took place in Leeds (UK). The meeting was organised by partners from Leeds University, who arranged the participation, and the accommodation of participants. Invitations to the meeting and workshop were sent to all project partners, and the project officer, but also, some other people from the University of Edinburgh, University of Ghent, British Biochar Foundation, European Compost Network and others like BioRefine and the Refertil project were invited to the meeting.

• FERTIPLUS Farmers Workshop: On November 2014 while the 3rd Annual Meeting was taken place, FERTIPLUS with the lead of Tecnova and IDC organized a workshop devoted to farmers, agronomical technicians, waste management companies and local authorities, where FERTIPLUS results were presented. During the meeting all FERTIPLUS partners had the chance to discuss and to show their experimental results to a wider audience. The workshop has been very relevant to obtain real feelings from farmers and their expectations of the organic amendments proposed in the project.

• ISHS and CSIC International Meeting “III International Symposium Organic Matter Management and Compost Use in horticulture”. The 3rd edition of the ISHS was aimed at covering different aspects including nutritional issues and the implication on global food security, different environmental and health issues associated to the use of compost in agriculture, and also a reflection on novel organic amendments and future needs to ensure its safe use and commercialisation. The meeting was organized by CSIC partner, and during the meeting, a specific session was devoted to FERTIPLUS and to the interaction of biochar and organic matter both in soil and during composting.

• FERTIPLUS 3rd Science Camp: On May 26-29 took place in Neudietendorf (Germany) , the University of Weimar lead the organisation of a one day meeting (Fire Camp) with other EU related projects such as INEMAD, ReUseWaste, Biorefine and FERTIPLUS. The Fire Camp Meeting was focused on PhD students and it was aimed at giving them the opportunity to share the project results to a more extended audience and experts invited to this meeting.

• Refertil and FERTIPLUS Joint Meeting “Compost and biochar safety, economy and EU law harmonization conference”, the meeting was aimed to bring together the two FP7 projects, to show the meeting participants the results, to do an update of the state of the art, progress from science into economical applications, production technologies, economy, analytics and quality specifications of products, current status of the law and harmonization and policy support works in Europe.

• External workshops and conferences: During the project lifetime, FERTIPLUS partners have participated in workshops and conferences. These events have been a great opportunity to reinforce links and to establish new networks with stakeholders, other projects, and to identify and use synergies between research projects for future collaborations. Successful partnership has been established with Refertil, Canthogether, Smartsoil, Inemad, and the BioRefine Cluster.
• Scientific Publications: During the project, FERTIPLUS partners have actively participated in the preparation of publications related to the project results to be published ion some of the key media. More information about these publications can be seen in table A1.
• Partners Events: Participation of project partners in the main conferences in order to present the project and the results can be seen on detail on table A2.
• Leaflets: FERTIPLUS leaflets (Figure 12) were designed during the first 6 months of the project. They were aimed at providing a thorough but simple to understand description of the project concept and activities. The leaflets are available in English and were supplied to project partners for distribution at the events where the partners have participated. Furthermore, some copies were also sent to the Project Officer.
The leaflet was review in 2015 where 3 new leaflets addressed to farmers, industry and policy makers were created. The 3 different and specific stakeholders leaflets contained specific information of interest for each stakeholders group. All project leaflets are available in the project website.

Task 6.3 Specific dissemination

• FERTIPLUS has made a substantial efforts to disseminate and communicate the project results to the main stakeholders. A first classification of the stakeholders was made, and during the 3rd year the needs of the stakeholders and the project was analysied and resulted in a new classification of stakeholders: Government and Policy makers, Entities related with the management of residues, End Users (Farmers, civil organisations, domestic use, energy, transport), Universities & Research Institutes, Industry. Contributing this way to the promotion of the Advisory Services.

• Permanent exhibition of the long term field experiments: During the 3rd Annual Meeting in Almería (Spain) partners had the opportunity to visit Tecnova greenhouse installations and FERTIPLUS field experiments related with greenhouses. Furthermore, all field experiments, located in Belgium, Italy and Spain and the work that FERTIPLUS is performing are completely detailed in FERTIPLUS video.

Task 6.4 Biannual publication and distribution of Fertiplus ebulletin

• Newsletter: 4 Newsletters have been produced and distributed to FERTIPLUS stakeholders. The newsletters contain the main updates on each WP, and the main dissemination activities carried out during each period.

Other dissemination activities:
• Poster: A specific poster was designed for partners to use in the different events in which they participated. The poster contains the main information about the project, its objectives, activities and results.

• Forum publications: The FERTIPLUS Forum was created with the aim of establishing dialog and discussion with the main stakeholders. The forum contains 16 publications made by partners about FERTIPLUS experiments, biochar related articles, and events.

• Scientific articles: During the project lifetime, FERTIPLUS partners have written a total of 20 articles as result of FERTIPLUS experiments. These articles reflect the more important outcomes of FERTIPLUS as it is described on FERTIPLUS main results.

• Fertiplus video: FERTIPLUS produced a video which summarizes and explains to the audience the objectives of the project and the results the project is obtaining. The video was produced with the collaboration of all partners. Moreover, ILVO contributed with the dissemination and communication of the project results by elaborating a video based on the experiments that are taking place in Belgium.

Dissemination in numbers

Since the FERTIPLUS website joined the Google Analytics System which records and analyzes each visit the FERTIPLUS website has recieved since March 2014, we can analyze how FERTIPLUS dissemination activities have an impact in the stakeholders.
The data summarizing FERTIPLUS website dynamics can be seen in the images below (Figure 13 and 14), where we can see the regular behavior of the visitors and the website. The FERTIPLUS website receives around 20 visits per day, with the exception of the months of April, May, July and August, where we can see an increase in the number of visits, reaching its highest levels on July 24th, with 117 visits. This increase in the number of visits during these months can be explained due to the high participation in the meetings that took place during this months: The ISHS and CSIC international Meeting in April 20-24 2015 in Murcia (Spain), the FIRE Camp Meeting in May 26-29 2015 in Neudietendorf (Germany), the Refertil and FERTIPLUS Joint Meeting “Compost and biochar safety, economy and EU law harmonization conference” that took place on June 26, 2015 in Brussels (Belgium) and as response of other dissemination activities like the publication of the leaflets in the website and the release of FERTIPLUS Video in August 2015.

Furthermore other different aspects that can be analyzed arethe duration of each visit and the visits FERTIPLUS website receives per day. In this case, we can conclude that FERTIPLUS website receives an average of 20 visits per day, and that the duration of each visits has a average of 2 minutes. On the other hand, 85% of the visitors are seeing the FERTIPLUS website for the first time, while the remaining 14,8% are existing visitors. This means that FERTIPLUS dissemination activities are encouraging new visitors to visit the website.

Potential Impact:
Societal Impact

Looking at the results, FERTIPLUS can be expected to have an impact on the further use of organic fertilizers such us biochar, compost and biochar blended compost as a soil amendment, and will have an influence at European level on the harmonization of the fertilizers legislation. The outputs from the project will have the potential to improve the use of the above mentioned amendments to a better use of the land and to obtain healthiest harvests and good quality products.
As it was agreed on the Dow of FERTIPLUS, the knowledge created by FERTIPLUS has had societal and economic impact on:
• Enhancing the state of the art of biochar use in agriculture.
• Reducing the use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture
• Informing policy makers though a policy supporting report regarding contaminants of biochar
• Informing regulation by a robust dissemination programme and engagement with stakeholders.
Exploitable Results

The results from FERTIPLUS are available for all relevant stakeholders, and decision makers at all levels, as well as farmers, end users, waste management entities, public authorities, etc. It is foreseen that universities and research centres may exploit the results by integrating them into their training programmes, allowing students to incorporate these issues on their master and PhD programmes, and allowing these results to be use in future research and calls.
FERTIPLUS partners’ specific exploitation plans for the results are listed below:
ALTERRA will use the results obtained from the work for future projects. The results will also be used to advise SME’s regarding the possible utilization of organic residues in agriculture. In addition, the results will be used on ALTERRA’S training programmes and other activities related with the issue. The results are also expected to be used in future research and proposals. It is also expected to establish future collaboration with partners to complete the results with further research.
2. BUW
BUW plans to use the results for future research projects. Based on the WP3 paper "Biochar as additive in biogas-production from bio-waste" two project proposals were already submitted. One for a research cooperation with Chile, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Another for a regional agricultural project, funded by the Thuringia Reconstruction Bank. Other results of the FERTIPLUS work will be also used for further collaboration and research on resource management solutions. In addition, several results were and will be integrated into current lectures given at the BUW.
ILVO will use the research results related to the effect of biochar on the composting process and compost quality, and on the effects of biochar, compost and biochar-blended compost on soil and growing media quality, for future research and demonstration/showcase programmes and on its training programmes for PhD students. The collected database with expectations from farmers will enable ILVO to go further on their research to try to fulfil farmers and soil needs.
• the knowledge that biochar improves the composting process and quality is important for compost facilities.
• for cultures in growing media, the knowledge on the use of compost and biochar in growing media and its impact on nutrient use and disease suppression (as a strategy for IPM) are important for growers.
• the knowledge on soil quality assessment and improvement gathered during the Fertiplus-project is also relevant for open field cultures in NW Europe. ILVO will use this expertise for composting trials at the composting plant of ILVO or in other facilities. Farm composting and compost application is now incorporated as a standard management strategy at the ILVO experimental farm (200 ha). 
• Compost application gave significant reductions in diseases and thus compost application can lead to a reduction in the amount of pesticides used in the field. Compost can thus be implemented in integrated pest management (IPM) of soil-borne diseases.
These results will be communicated to the policy makers in Flanders, with potential impact on future regulation on nutrient legislation and IPM strategies. Furthermore, ILVO will continue disseminating the project results on the daily activities they do with farmers and with composting facilities and other relevant stakeholders.
The University of Leeds will make available the project results for further research programmes and collaboration. It’s training and educational programmes will contribute to the development of future research and results on the PhD programmes.
5. OWS
OWS will use the results of the project for further research and future research collaboration. In FERTIPLUS it became clear that biochar has the potential to be used as an additive in anaerobic digestion to counter ammonium and H2S toxicity and therefore exert a stabilizing effect on the biological process and increase productivity. OWS wants to expand this new knowledge (together with other partners) and continue to investigate the combination of anaerobic digestion with biochar applications. Two aspects are interesting for OWS: first of all the stabilizing effect on the biological process, but also the potential of biochar to capture nutrients (mainly N) from process streams offers possibilities to increase the value of the organic end products of anaerobic digestion.
CSIC will incorporate the results into the education and training programmes for PhD students so they can go further on this research. Furthermore, the results will be available for future research programmes and collaborations. The alliance established with local farmers will continue longer, as it is an important activity to keep raising the awareness among other farmers.
7. CRA
CRA will use the project results as a basis to further investigate and deepen the knowledge on the project topics and will make them available for further collaboration and research programmes, and will also incorporate the results on the education and training programmes for PhD students.
The outcome of research generated as a follow up of Fertiplus activities and achievements will provide an important contribution for fulfilling farmers and stakeholders needs. More specifically:
• The role exerted by biochar in the composting process is important for compost plant managers to improve the performance of the composting process while reducing the environmental impact of composting activities.
• The positive effects of compost and biochar blended compost on vineyards soils and vine production and quality is relevant to farmers aimed to a sustainable management of vineyards with reduction of mineral fertilizers input and enhanced soil fertility and microbiological activity and diversity.
• Biochar, compost and biochar blended compost have shown to be effective in increasing SOC stocks and decreasing soil N2O emission especially in combination with other organic amendments. This evidence is important for farmers, researchers, land managers and policy makers interested to plan future land uses with the aim of increasing soil C sequestration, reducing GHG emissions and warranting the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems.
Moreover, CRA will disseminate the outcome of the project to the general and specialized public by publishing the research results on international and national scientific and technical  journals and presenting them at international and national conferences, workshop and invited seminars and lectures.
8. IDC
IDC will continue working on the dissemination of the project results by maintaining updating the project website and the social networks for a period 1 year after the end of the project.
9. ECN
ECN will use the results of the project for further research and future research collaboration.
10. DRL
DRL will use the project results for further research.
TECNOVA will use the project results for further research and future research collaborations on the topic. With the information provided by market acceptance Tecnova will assess to biomass revaluing industrial initiatives of the characteristics of biochar market and potential use in the area, promoting the development of projects to get added value to waste streams from agriculture. In the experimental area, Tecnova will keep the dissemination and information work to show farmers about the impact and the benefits of the application of biochar, compost, and biochar blended compost into soil. Also, Tecnova will be involved in several activities related with raising awareness on local farmers still low concerned about the use of these compounds as soil amendment.
PROININSO will use the project results to improve its methodology and for further research on the area of the biochar.
13. IRIS
IRIS will use the project results to improve its methodology on waste management, and the results will be used for further research and future research collaborations.
GERESUR will use the project results to improve its methodology and to deep study the impact of the application of vermicompost into soil. Furthermore, the results will be used for further research and future research collaborations.

List of Websites:
Coordinator: Peter Kuikman, ALTERRA-WAGENINGEN UNIV., email:
Dissemination and communication Manager: Macarena Sanz, IDCONSORTIUM (IDC),
email: msanz@idconsortium,es