BIOSOLIDS LANDSPREADING

BEST PRACTICES

Biosolids and soil quality control

EFAR members regularly sample Biosolids before the beginning of the landspreading operation.

The sample is sent to an independent and accredited laboratory for analysis. Only Biosolids compliant with the Heavy Metals limit values are spread on land.

Regular soil analysis also carried out to assess the impact of Biosolids landspreading on soil quality.

Protection of the environment

EFAR members undertake to protect the environment in accordance with relevant national and European regulation during the entire operation of Biosolids landspreading.

Best Practices take into account many environmental factors: surface and underground water protection, buffer zones to vulnerable areas (flooding, dwellings, topography, animal manure, selection of the appropriate crops…).

All the sensitive areas are identified by GIS mapping.

Management of the logistical chain

Biosolids land application requires specific logistical organisational skills such as treatment,  storage, transport and landspreading.

To achieve this, EFAR members use specialised equipment: sealed tanker or trailer for safe transportation, waterproof storage sites with dedicated leachate collection, modified spreaders to guarantee even Biosolids application.

Traceability

All the data regarding the Biosolids, soil quality and the spreading operation are registered into a specific software database.

This guarantees that the entire operation is traceable and can be archived at the touch of a button.

Transparency

For full transparency, EFAR’s members regularly report to local authorities and to all the relevant agencies involved in Biosolids and Environmental protection.

Communication is one of the key factors of a successful Biosolids landspreading operation.

Information of the Biosolidsuser and public

EFAR’s Members are in constant contact with the producers and the users (farmers…) of Biosolids.

As a result of these exchanges, information on processes, quality, fertilising value, quantity spread per plot of land, are collected, compiled and transmitted to the farmers who can adjust their fertiliser program accordingly.

In order to earn the confidence of the public, EFAR propose that the following information is easily accessible to the public :

• Origin and quantity of Biosolids
• Corresponding Analysis Results
• Contact details of the operators

BENEFITS
For the

Organic matter deficit

In Europe, nearly 40% of soils are deficient in organic matter, precipitating in a significant drop in fertility and an increased sensitivity to slaking and erosion. This decline is related to the intensification of agricultural production methods and the decrease of livestock production. The correction of current deficits would require, in addition to the spreading of animal manure, an annual input of 300 to 400 million tonnes of soil improvers. Current European Biosolids production (13 million tonnes of which 2 million are composted) is not sufficient to cover that gap alone.

Therefore, it is crucial to encourage the landspreading of Biosolids when their quality complies with the requirements of the regulations.

Fertilise the crops

Most plants have the ability to produce organic matter from carbon dioxide (CO2) through photosynthesis. For this process, crops need water, but also nutrients which must be found in the soil.

Crops continually erode the nutrient reserves of the soil, particularly if adequate fertilizer is not applied and the whole crop is harvested and removed. Consequently it is necessary to compensate this deficit by replenishing the nutrients.

Thus, Biosolids landspreading can provide the essential nutrients for continued healthy plant growth.

Preserve water resources

Water resource management is a major problem for all developing agricultural countries, be it intensive or extensive. Many warnings concerning limited groundwater reserves are given to farmers, inviting them to significantly reduce their water consumption. For example, a hectare of cereals such as maize will use nearly 4,000 m3 of water to allow its growth until its harvest.

It is scientifically proven, that Biosolids landspreading increases the soil water holding capacity of the soil and therefore reduces the requirement for irrigation.

Recent studies show, in some situations, the use of organic matter supplied by Biosolids increases the water holding capacity of the soil fourfold and enables savings of 50 to 350 euros per hectare in terms of irrigation.

Reduce the production of greenhouse gases

Biosolids landspreading also limits the production of greenhouse gas in three ways:

• Biosolids landspreading eliminates incineration or landfilling which are known to produce significant quantities of greenhouse gases.
• The manufacture and use of chemical fertilisers is another significant source of production of greenhouse gases. For example in France, each year, Biosolids landspreading saves the chemical production of 1 million tonnes of nitrogen and 370 000 tonnes of phosphorus, equivalent to 5.8 million tons of CO2 not released into the atmosphere.
• Biosolids landspreading results in  soil carbon sequestration by  increasing the amount of stable humus.

Fertiliser savings

The farmer using biosolids for soil fertilisation decreases his consumption of mineral fertilisers. Regular soil analyses are carried out by EFAR technicians to monitor soil quality.

Sustainable fertilisation

Biosolid landspreading is undertaken in the context of resource conservation, control of environmental impacts and a respect of the proximity principle.

Biosolids landspreading is part of integrated and sustainable agriculture. The farmers also benefits from the agronomical advice given by EFAR technicians.

A moderate cost of treatment

Biosolid treatment costs vary according to their outlet and their type. These costs can be high and without added value. This is the case when Biosolids are disposed via incineration or land filling.

Treatment costs remain moderate in the case of landspreading : about 30 and 40 € per tonne of Biosolids, and about 50 to 80 € per tonne for composted Biosolids.

A local processing industry:

To reduce transport costs, Biosolids landspreading is ideally undertaken in close proximity to the production facility. In Europe, the average distance between the place of production and place of the use of Biosolids is around 30 km.

Biosolids that are locally managed creates local jobs where municipalities, major producers of biosolids, directly benefit. SYPREA, the French association for Biosolids landspreading, estimates the Biosolids recycling industry, has created 6000-8000 direct jobs in France, , and over 10,000 when counting indirectjobs.

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Soils

Organic matter deficit

In Europe, nearly 40% of soils are deficient in organic matter, precipitating in a significant drop in fertility and an increased sensitivity to slaking and erosion. This decline is related to the intensification of agricultural production methods and the decrease of livestock production. The correction of current deficits would require, in addition to the spreading of animal manure, an annual input of 300 to 400 million tonnes of soil improvers. Current European Biosolids production (13 million tonnes of which 2 million are composted) is not sufficient to cover that gap alone.

Therefore, it is crucial to encourage the landspreading of Biosolids when their quality complies with the requirements of the regulations.

Fertilise the crops

Most plants have the ability to produce organic matter from carbon dioxide (CO2) through photosynthesis. For this process, crops need water, but also nutrients which must be found in the soil.

Crops continually erode the nutrient reserves of the soil, particularly if adequate fertilizer is not applied and the whole crop is harvested and removed. Consequently it is necessary to compensate this deficit by replenishing the nutrients.

Thus, Biosolids landspreading can provide the essential nutrients for continued healthy plant growth.

+
Environment

Preserve water resources

Water resource management is a major problem for all developing agricultural countries, be it intensive or extensive. Many warnings concerning limited groundwater reserves are given to farmers, inviting them to significantly reduce their water consumption. For example, a hectare of cereals such as maize will use nearly 4,000 m3 of water to allow its growth until its harvest.

It is scientifically proven, that Biosolids landspreading increases the soil water holding capacity of the soil and therefore reduces the requirement for irrigation.

Recent studies show, in some situations, the use of organic matter supplied by Biosolids increases the water holding capacity of the soil fourfold and enables savings of 50 to 350 euros per hectare in terms of irrigation.

Reduce the production of greenhouse gases

Biosolids landspreading also limits the production of greenhouse gas in three ways:

• Biosolids landspreading eliminates incineration or landfilling which are known to produce significant quantities of greenhouse gases.
• The manufacture and use of chemical fertilisers is another significant source of production of greenhouse gases. For example in France, each year, Biosolids landspreading saves the chemical production of 1 million tonnes of nitrogen and 370 000 tonnes of phosphorus, equivalent to 5.8 million tons of CO2 not released into the atmosphere.
• Biosolids landspreading results in  soil carbon sequestration by  increasing the amount of stable humus.

+
Biosolids user

Fertiliser savings

The farmer using biosolids for soil fertilisation decreases his consumption of mineral fertilisers. Regular soil analyses are carried out by EFAR technicians to monitor soil quality.

Sustainable fertilisation

Biosolid landspreading is undertaken in the context of resource conservation, control of environmental impacts and a respect of the proximity principle.

Biosolids landspreading is part of integrated and sustainable agriculture. The farmers also benefits from the agronomical advice given by EFAR technicians.

+
Biosolids producer

A moderate cost of treatment

Biosolid treatment costs vary according to their outlet and their type. These costs can be high and without added value. This is the case when Biosolids are disposed via incineration or land filling.

Treatment costs remain moderate in the case of landspreading : about 30 and 40 € per tonne of Biosolids, and about 50 to 80 € per tonne for composted Biosolids.

A local processing industry:

To reduce transport costs, Biosolids landspreading is ideally undertaken in close proximity to the production facility. In Europe, the average distance between the place of production and place of the use of Biosolids is around 30 km.

Biosolids that are locally managed creates local jobs where municipalities, major producers of biosolids, directly benefit. SYPREA, the French association for Biosolids landspreading, estimates the Biosolids recycling industry, has created 6000-8000 direct jobs in France, , and over 10,000 when counting indirectjobs.

LINK IN THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Until now, our business model was based on the use of abundant resources and a linear pattern: resource extraction – production – consumption – waste.

The circular economy offers a new business model in which resource use is optimised and products, by-products or wastes of an activity are recycled. The circular economy is based on the functioning of natural ecosystems and on several principles such as the minimisation of the environmental impacts of a product from its conception and throughout its life cycle; the optimising of the resources used and finally the possibility of recycling the products. The circular economy target is to do more and better with less.

The circular economy is applicable to all products including Biosolids from municipalities or industries.

Biosolids can be used to fertilise the soil and crops instead of mineral fertilisers;they can also be reused to provide energy, gas or electricity through anaerobic digestion, or to produce biofuels. Biosolids landspreading allows natural resources (phosphate, nitrogen..) to be conserved, reduced energy requirements and reduced environmental impact of soil fertilisation. Moreover, Biosolids landspreading creates local jobs.