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ADBA conference calls for more focus on nutrient recycling


Speakers in the main debate at the ADBA National Conference today [3 Dec] on ‘Can we afford not to recycle nutrients and organic matter?’ pushed the government to increase focus on the wider benefits of AD alongside energy generation.

Chairing the debate Tony Juniper said: “We have pretty much all the technologies we need for the circular economy” and AD has “absolutely immense potential”.

But despite the strategic importance of nutrients, the driver for AD remains focussed on renewable energy.

Patrick Holden, Founding Director of the Sustainable Food Trust, said: “There is certainly not a business case for nutrient recycling at the moment – renewable energy incentives are the only thing. Wide adoption of AD will depend on the business case.” Given the carbon footprint of artificial fertilisers a “carbon price would help”.

Rembrandt Koppelaar, Imperial College London, agreed that: “Nutrient costs will not rise sufficiently, so support needs to be on a carbon basis – there is a huge carbon cost in current forms of nutrient supply”.

The panel emphasised that none of this would happen without a clear vision for where we want to get to.

Dr Alan Knight, Sustainability Director, Business in the Community, asked: “What is the ambition? There are lots of different reasons you might encourage on farm AD, so what should be the main driver?”

Patrick Holden, Sustainable Food Trust, agreed: “We need a clearer vision for how we want our food systems to work. To think long term farmers need support: the business case must be clear.”

Michael Chesshire, Evergreen Gas, suggested that existing mechanisms could be harnessed to achieve this ambition such as “getting AD front and centre in the Agri-Tech Strategy”

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