Thematic training material for the use of alternative biomass as fertilizer has been published

algal biomass

Altenative biomass refers to microalgae based biofertilisers from wastewater by heterotrophic microalgae process. It is a solid fertilizer (powder).  Algae are a diverse group of aquatic organisms that have the ability to conduct photosynthesis. Duckweed (the Lemnaceae) is a family of aquatic plants that rich in protein. Both of them can make use of nutrients in solutions to produce biomass by algae cultivation which can be used as crop fertilizer. With the use of microbial fertilizers obtained from microalgae, the amount of soil organic matter and the water holding capacity are improved and have positive effects on soil, plants and therefore environment. As an organic fertilizer, microalgae have the potential to prevent nutrient losses through a gradual release of N, P and potassium (K), which is attuned to the plant requirements. 

Example of alternative biomass product available on the NUTRIMAN Farmer Platform

Typical nutrient content and availability for plants: N in the microalgae biomass ranges between 1-10% and P concentration can range from 0.03% to more than 3%. Microalgae also have nutrient concentrations of K, lower than N and P. The typical NPK concentration for microalgae cultivated in food processing wastewater is around 6:2.5:1.5 %.

Fields of application in agriculture: Microalgae can be used in organic farming in almost all crops. The application dose is depending on N%, N-vulnerability of the region, type of soil, crop…

The product is solid and has to be applied as other chemical fertilizers, by adapted machinery for applying small doses of fertilizers. The application is by preference before or at the moment of seeding/planting. However, it may also be advisable to mix the microalgae powder with other nutrients by blending to meet the nutritional requirements of the crops.

Benefits for farmers: Algal biomass as a new bio-fertiliser contains macronutrients and micronutrients, some growth regulators, polyamines, natural enzymes carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins implemented for improving vegetative growth and yield. It can improve soil characteristics that have favourable effect on nutritional status of plants. Microalgal fertilisers improve the fruit quality through an increase in sugar and carotenoid content. Some studies had demonstrated that the performance of algal materials was similar to that of a conventional synthetic fertiliser or even higher.

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