Land application of organic amendments derived from waste materials from urban, industrial or agricultural activities (organic waste products: OWP) constitutes an important practice which can be used to increase or maintain soil organic carbon contents and improve soil quality. Land application of OWP results in many environmental and agronomic effects related to increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) contents. SOC provides nutrients for plants, increases the ability of soil to retain nutrients, increases soil porosity and water holding capacity, improve the resistance of soil to erosion. Land application of OWP also has a potential for climate change mitigation through sequestration of atmospheric CO2-C in SOC.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a powerful standardised method which allows to integrate all environmental impacts associated with different waste management options. LCA is becoming the default methodological approach at national and EU level whenever industry or authorities are assessing the environmental and societal impacts of new alternative technologies. However, LCA is currently biased due to the lack of consideration of the effects of OWP land application to the soil quality. As a result, the environmental benefits of land application of OWP are systematically underrated compared with other waste management options.
The main objective of this project is to develop new and more appropriate assessment methods for the effects of land application of OWP of urban origin. This will be addressed by combining fundamental biogeochemical characterisation of soil organic matter in long-term field experiments with agro-ecosystem modelling to derive parameters to develop a new LCA methodology taking all the environmental effects of OWP application on agricultural land into account. The results of the proposed project are lightly to provide new insight in both the fields of SOC dynamics, agronomic and environmental effects of OWP land application and LCA.
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