Using biofertiliser for established short rotation coppice (SRC) willow

Project name: Burntstump

Burntstump is a restored landfill site in Nottinghamshire that has been growing Short Rotation Coppice willow for the last two years. This trial investigates the use of digestate as a biofertiliser to improve crop yields using specialised irrigation equipment within the plantation.

The trial will investigate the effect of digestate on the yield of SRC willow and its effect on soil physical, chemical and biological properties.

 

Trial design 

The replicated field trial comprises of six treatments:

1. Untreated control – (no amendment)

2. Whole digestate applied at c.250 kg/ha total N, applied in a 50 m3 ‘dose’ during the growing season 

3. Whole digestate applied at c.500 kg/ha total N, applied in 50 m3 ‘doses’ during growing season 

4. Whole digestate applied at c.750 kg/ha total N, applied in 50 m3 ‘doses’ during the growing season

5. Whole digestate applied at c.250 kg/ha total N, applied in a 50 m3 ‘dose’ during the growing season plus a nitrification inhibitor 

6. Whole digestate applied at c.250 kg/ha total N, applied in a 50 m3 ‘dose’ during the growing season (March-June) plus irrigation water 

 

Measuring results

The effect of digestate on the soil and on plant health and growth will be monitored during the course of the project with specific focus on:

yield;

incidence of pest, disease and weed growth; 

nutrients and heavy metals take up by the crop; and  

physical, chemical properties of the soils following application of digestate.

 

Economic assessment

An economic assessment will be carried out at the end of the trial (2014) to determine the commercial viability of biofertiliser for biomass production on brownfield land.

 

Results will be available from March 2014