“Our technology can cut the carbon footprint of a dairy farm by 27% and produce a valuable organic nitrogen fertiliser with three times the crop-available nitrogen in slurry,” explains Chris Puttick of N2 Applied. He is one of the speakers discussing alternatives to inorganic fertiliser at an Agri-TechE event “Putting the N Into FarmiNg” 24th March 2021.
Chris explains: “A high proportion of the greenhouse gas emissions of a dairy farm are from slurry. Slurry is a hazardous product as the fumes can be toxic and detrimental to air quality, human health and our environment.”
Organic liquid fertiliser
“Our technology overcomes these issues and converts by-products like slurry into a valuable nitrogen enriched organic liquid fertiliser, which we call NEO. The scalable technology fits within a 20ft shipping container on the farm.”
Nitrogen can be present in the environment in multiple forms, including the gases N2 and ammonia NH3, causing air pollution, N2O, a strong greenhouse gas, and as the salt nitrate NO3, which is soluble in water and a source of pollution.
N2 Applied originates from Norway. The company has developed a unit which uses electricity to extract nitrogen from the air via plasma. Nitrogen is captured within slurry and enriches it.
As a result of the process, the output NEO is slightly acidic which increases its stability and reduces the amount of ammonia released whilst eliminating methane emissions.
The technology can also be used with the digestate, produced after anaerobic digestion (AD). As the AD plant is used to produce biogas, it is anticipated that some of this energy could be used to produce NEO, adding value to the digestate within a circular onfarm system.
Trials show available nitrogen three times higher than untreated slurry
Trials by ADAS have shown that NEO is stable, which means it can be applied to the growing crop in a wider range of weather conditions. Further trials with the Norway University of Applied Sciences show there is no risk of scorching the crop.
Total nitrogen (NH4, NO3 and NO2) needs to be considered within a nutrient management plan for the crop, and is particularly important where the farm lies within a nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ).
Trials of NEO have shown that the nitrogen available to the crop is three times higher than untreated slurry and when applied to a grass sward increased the yield by 41% over two cuts.
Chris continues: “We have seen interest from industry members that have set climate targets to reduce the carbon footprint of their supply chains. We are receiving encouraging feedback that these businesses are serious about sustainability and willing to invest in a technology that will reduce on farm emissions significantly.
“The benefit for the livestock producer is a high value organic fertiliser that is more nutrient dense. A considerable amount of heat can be recycled from the plasma unit. This means that farmers can turn a by-product into a valuable commodity.”
Chris Puttick of N2 Applied will join other speakers Guðbjörg Rist of Atmonia and Andrew Neal of Rothamsted at the Agri-TechE event “Putting the N In FarmiNg—Solutions for On-Farm Nitrogen Production” on Wednesday 24th March from 2pm – 4pm.