Page 17 - Manea Matters March 2019
P. 17


 n Issue 58 of Manea Matters,   Allpress Farms therefore approached NIAB   second area is planted with a cover crop. Area
 we gave you  an insight into   (the National Institute of Agricultural Botany),   three is spread with digestate. Area four has a
 Iour Anaerobic Digester, which   who are strongly connected to Agri-Tech East,   cover crop and digestate, and area five is spread
 was established in 2014.  We   and, along with Cranfield University and a   with a mycorrhizal fungi (a naturally occurring
 mentioned  in  the  article  that,  as   group of innovative farmers, we are looking at   group of organisms which benefit plants) and a
 well as  generating  energy,  the   digestate trials. By doing the trials, we hope to   cover crop.  This field will be drilled with maize in
 plant produces organic material   use the digestate like a regular fertiliser; thereby   May, which in turn will become feedstock for the
 resulting  from  the  process  replacing the inorganic fertilisers which we   digester at time of harvest.
 (digestate), which is spread back   currently purchase.  Yield data from the trials will   As  with  any  trial,  this  will take time –  at
 onto the land as fertiliser. The   be collated and used to determine Nutrient Use   least two years; ideally four. Soil tests are
 plant currently produces about   Efficiency (NUE).    required through all stages (some visual, others
 12,000 cubic metres of digestate   These trials will include measurements such   scientific).  Final yields of the maize need to be
 per year.  This article is to give you   as how to stabilise nitrogen in both the soil and   collated as well, to see if any difference in the soil
 a  basic  overview of  how  we  are   the digestate, the impact of the digestate on   condition and yields are obtained.  Doing this for
 planning to optimise the use of this   qualities (the material continues to break   soil microbiology, and whether or not the use   just one year will not give enough information to
 digestate, as it is rather an unknown quantity.    down within the soil, reducing nitrogen and   of cover crops (a crop grown for the protection   properly analyse any benefits.
 Digestate is rich  in nutrients and is  able to   phosphate leaching).  Leaching is the loss of   and enrichment of soil)
 replace some quantities of man-made fertilisers,   water-soluble plant nutrients from the soil   has an influence in the  “By doing the trials, we hope
 as well as increasing yield in crops planted after   due to rain and irrigation  process.    to use the digestate like a
 spreading digestate on the land.   •  improved workability of soils; especially heavy   Our  own  specific   regular fertiliser; thereby
 clay  trials include various   replacing the inorganic
 Other expected benefits of digestate include:-  •  improved water retention in light soils  measurements  taken
 •  the provision of a source of Nitrogen,   •  enhanced resistance to soil compaction and   from  a  field  that  fertilisers which we currently
 Phosphorus and Potassium (N, P and K), as   erosion  had  recently  been  purchase.”
 well as Sulphur   In order to measure the value of the digestate   harvested  of  crop.
 •  improvement of soil structure, drainage, water   and  the  influence  it  can  have  on  the  soil,  we   This is an ongoing
 retention and aeration; providing a better   needed to know how to manage the digestate,   process, but the basics
 rooting environment for plants  how to improve timing of application, and   of it is that the field is
 •  slow  nutrient  release   how to best apply it to the soil for best   sectioned off into five
 crop uptake.  areas. The first area is                  Photography courtesy of Emseephotography
      simply left as it is. The



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