Project Summary

The ReNu2Farm project is designed to increase the recycling rates for the plant nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the primary food production chain in Northwest Europe (NWE). Up to now, farmers have essentially been using mineral fertilisers, for which the EU is heavily dependent on imports. Moreover, the production of mineral fertiliser requires large amounts of energy. Paradoxically, however, there are several regions with a nutrient surplus in NWE. There are also technologies for recovering those nutrients, but until now they have remained little-used by farmers.

The project strives for an exchange of nutrients between the following countries: IE-UK, DE-NL and BE-FR. In each of these areas there are regions with nutrient shortages and surpluses. Nutrient-surplus regions in NWE include the Netherlands, Flanders (Belgium), Bretagne (France) and Ireland. The regions that have great potential to replace mineral fertilisers, due to their high use thereof, are located in Northern France, Wallonia (Belgium), the East of England and Ireland.

First of all, the researchers are investigating the precise current situation on nutrients and technologies in the field of nutrient recovery in NWE. They will then deploy these technologies in practice, for both the production and upcycling of products from recycled nutrients. The largest waste streams for producing these products are sewage sludge, food wastes and manure.
The scientists are considering possible market barriers. They will then adapt the products so that they more closely match the needs of users.

On the basis of desk studies and info sessions with farmers comes an assessment of the regional demand for nutrients and performances of the products. In order to determine the potential for replacement by recycled nutrients, the researchers are collecting information on current fertiliser use and the types of agriculture and crop rotations for each region. From the perspective of the legislation it is also important to know the impacts of the products on the soil and the environment.

Where there are markets for recycled nutrients, what their pricing looks like and what the attitude of farmers and the policy is with respect to them are still open questions right now. The researchers are assessing the economic market value of the products on the basis of production costs and interest amongst the stakeholders. They are identifying legal pressure points regarding conditions and requirements on fertilisation management and transport.

The collected knowledge and techniques are being fed back to the stakeholders via articles, workshops and demonstrations. This will help overcome the knowledge gap amongst farmers. By spreading information and success stories, but also by further expanding to other sectors and regions, farmers will become better able to apply larger amounts of recycled nutrients over the long term.
The long-term goal is for farmers in the involved regions to replace 2% (-108,000 tonnes N, -8,000 tonnes P, -120,000 tonnes K) of the artificial fertiliser with recycled nutrients within five years, and 6% (-324,000 tonnes N, -24,000 tonnes P, -360,000 tonnes K) after ten years.


View the benefits of our hightech field trial fertilizing machine for complex fertilization trials

ReNu2Farm invests in a hightech field trial fertilizing machine for complex fertilization trials

Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
IZES gGmbH 17 Altenkesseler Str. , Building A1
Name Contact Name Email Country
University of Limerick Achim Schmalenberger Ireland
Munster Technological University Niamh Power Ireland
ARVALIS Institut du végétal Hélène Lagrange France
Soil Concept S.A. Marc Demoulling Luxembourg
Outotec GmbH & Co. KG Tanja Schaaf Germany
Nutriënten Management Instituut BV Romke Postma Netherlands
Universiteit Gent Ivona Sigurnjak Belgium
Inagro Inès Verleden Belgium
Institute of Technology Carlow Thomaé Kakouli-Duarte Ireland


How the Interreg project ReNu2Farm is supporting soil health and the circular economy

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This case study was originally published by the Microbiology Society under the following link: The Microbiology Society is undertaking a project entitled A Sustainable Future as part of our 75th Anniversary, which aims to highlight the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to our members and empower them to use their research to evidence and impact the goals. Earlier this year, we put a call out to our members to submit case studies in the following three areas: antimicrobial resistance, soil health and the circular economy. This case study is written by Dr Achim Schmalenberger, who is a Senior Lecturer and Course Director, and Lea Deinert who is a researcher at the University of Limerick, Ireland. They are both members of the Microbiology Society. It focuses on Soil Health; maintaining the health of our soils has gained increasing prominence in recent years. Soils are essential for the global food system and regulate water, carbon and nitrogen cycles but are put under pressure from population growth and climate change. Read More

Fertiliser Manual for farmers in preparation

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With the ReNu2Farm project we aim to make recycling-derived fertilisers and their use more known among farmers. This also implies developing pratical guidelines and recommendations for farmers on how to use these novel fertilisers. Therefore, a handbook of good fertilization practice with recycling-derived fertilisers (RDFs) is currently under development in collaboration of the project partners Arvalis (FR), Inagro (BE) and NMI (NL). Read More

ReNu2Farm during lockdown: discovering that RDFs are friendly to soil organisms

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As it happens for the rest of the world, so the ReNu2Farm workers are also very much challenged by the current unprecedented situation. The ReNu2Farm partners at the Institute of Technology Carlow in Ireland were in the middle of collecting results on the project when the public health restrictions were implemented. Luckily, an experiment on possible ecotoxicological effects of the recycling derived fertilisers (RDF) that are the focus of the project, was just completed. Similarly, a major part of the analysis of the results generated from the Irish field trial, where the ecological impacts of RDF on soil bacteria, fungi and nematodes were investigated, was also completed. In IT Carlow, the project partners have undertaken the task to investigate and confirm the ecological and environmental safety of RDF. They do this by observing the effects of RDF on key soil microbiota. Read More

Second year of field trials in Flanders, Belgium

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During the growth season of 2019, Inagro tested recycling-derived fertilisers (RDFs) at its field trial in maize in Wingene, Flanders. This year, the field trial continues in spinach. Once again, five RDFs (ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulphate, digestate from co-digestion of pig manure, liquid fraction of separated digestate and pig urine) are being compared with the use of mineral fertiliser CAN, pig manure and a blank treatment. Read More

ReNu2Farm project presents at the anaerobic digestion demo in Cork, Ireland

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The Interreg NWE ReNu2Farm project aims at increasing the recycling rates of plant nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). P and K are limited and finite resources, and production of N fertilisers is energy intensive. Despite a number of recovery technologies been at a mature stage, the use of recycling-derived fertiliser (RDF) products by farmers has been limited to date. The aim of ReNu2Farm is to put the farming community at the heart of the research, therefore stakeholder engagement is essential to the success of this project. As part of this stakeholder engagement, the ReNu2Farm team was involved with the anaerobic digestion and digestate demonstration, which took place on March 12th in Cork, Ireland. Read More

Field experiments with maize on sandy soils in the Netherlands

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In March 2020 two field experiments are laid out for the third and last year within the Netherlands (see pictures). The objective of the field experiments is to explore the effects of differences in organic matter input with animal manure, household waste compost (a recycling-derived fertilizer) and/or verge grass on soil quality (e.g. organic matter content and quality, water holding capacity, etc.), crop yield and N uptake of maize and on the risk of nitrate leaching (determined with nitrate in soil profile after harvest). The field experiments are located on sandy soils in the Province of Gelderland, near Wageningen. One field experiment was located on a sandy soil with a deep groundwater table (> 5 m; no irrigation) and the other one on a sandy soil with shallow groundwater table (> 1 m; with irrigation). Read More

26/09/2019 - Demand for recycled nutrients in every region: tailor made recycling-derived fertilisers have the highest impact

27/04/2021 - Recycling Derived Fertilisers: what are they?

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