Digestate as a fertilizer – Amendments to the Law “On Pesticides and Agrochemicals”
On September 8, a meeting of the Committee on Agrarian and Land Policy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was held, at which a decision was made to support the draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Pesticides and Agrochemicals” on state registration of biogas plants. Revised submission of Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was registered № 5039 (dated 15.07.2021). This draft law offers a simple solution to facilitate the use of digestate (a by-product of the biogas production process) as a fertilizer that revives Ukrainian soils.
Let us remind you that in December the UABIO team prepared and sent proposals on settling the issue of using digestate as a fertilizer.
UABIO Head of the Board Georgii Geletukha and a member of the Association Oleksandr Moroz represented the interests of the Bioenergy Association of Ukraine at the committee meeting and discussed the draft law. We thank the People’s Deputy Petro Yurchyshyn for registration and presentation of the draft law at the committee meeting! We thank the committee for making this important decision for bioenergy!
We hope for quick consideration and support of the draft law in the first reading by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
The importance of fertilizing
Regular application of fertilizers helps maintain soil health. The use of mineral fertilizers made it possible to intensify agricultural production, make it more predictable, and, accordingly, economically feasible.
But one of the main factors in restoring the fertility of Ukrainian lands is organic fertilizers: crop residues, by-products, green manure, and more. The application of organic fertilizers improves the agrochemical, physical and water-air properties of soils.
Digestate: origins and features
Organic fertilizers are traditionally considered manure, sapropel, compost. But with the development of technologies for the production of biogas from by-products and raw materials of agricultural residues in Ukraine, more and more digestate is formed – the matter fermented in oxygen-free conditions.
This digestate is also a valuable resource for restoring soil fertility, as it contains a complex of nutrients and trace elements in forms accessible to soil biota, allows deoxidizing and moisturizing soils. It is a source of beneficial bacteria for the soil. As an organic fertilizer or soil improver, digestate is only a by-product of the biogas production process at almost all active biogas plants in Ukraine. And the most rational way to use it is to apply it to the soil.
Issues of legislation
From the point of view of the legislation of Ukraine (Law of Ukraine “On Pesticides and Agrochemicals”) agrochemicals are organic, mineral, and bacterial fertilizers, chemical ameliorants, plant growth regulators, and other substances used to increase soil fertility, crop yields, and improve crop quality.
Therefore, having fertilizing properties during application to soils, the digestate formally falls under the concept of agrochemicals. In addition, digestate is a special type of organic fertilizer because it has a variable composition throughout the year and from year to year. So, it is difficult to maintain stable technological regimes during the operation of biogas plants. Due to the variability in the composition of the digestate, its state registration as a regular fertilizer is practical nonsense.
State registration of the digestate as a fertilizer is not required either at the European level or at the level of individual EU countries. The governments of these countries work within the framework of national and European certification schemes for digestate in accordance with approved quality standards.
The draft law provisions
To solve this problem, a draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Pesticides and Agrochemicals” on state registration of the digestate of biogas plants was developed.
The document proposes a legislative definition of the term “digestate”, as currently such a term is not provided by law.
The definition of “digestate of biogas plants” includes the predominant amount of digestate formed at active stations in Ukraine. During the production of biogas raw materials of agricultural origin are used, including various types of manure, corn silage or other crops, crop residues, primary or secondary by-products of processing of vegetable raw materials by the enterprises of the food processing industry, such as pulp of sugar beets, bard, molasses, etc.
The draft law proposes to cancel the state registration for the digestate of biogas plants used as organic fertilizer or soil improver, provided that it complies with current sanitary norms and other regulations.
This will open opportunities for the unimpeded introduction of the digestate of biogas plants into Ukrainian fields and will lead to the revival of the fertility of Ukrainian soils.
The draft law proposes to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine ensure that ministries and other central executive bodies review and bring their regulations in line with this Law, as well as adopt regulations and documents necessary for the implementation of this Law. First of all, to monitor compliance with the quality standards of the digestate, as well as the implementation in Ukrainian legislation of the provisions of Regulation (EU) 2019/1009 of the European Parliament and the Council of 05.06.2019, which establishes rules for placing fertilizers on the market.