Kenya: valorization of digestate to increase nutrient recycling and yields in smallholder agriculture

A project on digestate nutrient valorization was kicked off at Wageningen campus, the Netherlands, on Friday, April 12th 2019. Support equivalent of 40k Euros has been granted from the Dutch ‘Top Sectors’ Agri & Food and Horticulture & Starting Materials to an initiative of Dutch consulting companies Biomass Research and Kind of Green Consulting.

The project aims to access and apply scientific information on the value of digestate or ‘bioslurry’ (from anaerobic digesters in Kenya) as a fertilizer, based on the feedstocks that enter the (micro-) digester and the approximate conditions in the digester. This information will be compiled and translated into calculation rules and application principles that allow prediction of the quality and fertilizer replacement value of bioslurry. The primary goal of anaerobic (micro-) digesters is to produce biogas, a clean cooking fuel; they contribute to nine of the 17 SDGs (see also further below).

Biogas is a clean and fast cooking solution (Photo by: ABPP Hivos SNV)

Dutch partners

Research will be conducted at two WUR (Wageningen University and Research) departments: Food and Biobased Research (FBR-WUR) and the Plant Production Systems chair group (PPS-WUR). Forthcoming results will enable Wageningen-based SMEs Kind of Green Consulting and Biomass Research to develop and market information and extension tools for African (smallholder) farmers, particularly on how to improve management of anaerobic digesters and how to best use the bioslurry in the field.

Bioslurry is a powerful organic fertilizer that can improve soils and support crop production (Photo by: ABPP Hivos SNV)

Kenyan Partners

The project will partner with the Kenya Biogas Program, the Kenyan chapter of the Africa Biogas Partnership Programme (ABPP) implemented by Hivos and SNV and funded by the Government of The Netherlands, supporting market driven installation of small-scale digesters in 5 countries in Africa. So far, ABPP has supported installation of 70,000 digesters in Africa. Digesters provide biogas for cooking, which reduces the use of firewood and charcoal, saves time and money, and helps to improve in-house air quality. Bioslurry is widely considered a powerful organic fertilizer that can improve soils and support crop production. At present, however, knowledge of bioslurry composition and potential for replacing artificial fertilizers is often lacking. Activities by SNV and Hivos are supported by the Dutch government.
For more information: please contact Kind of Green Consulting or Biomass Research.

More on biogas

Biogas produced in micro-digesters has economic, productivity, health, climate and sustainability benefits: it is a clean cooking fuel that replaces firewood, charcoal and kerosene. Bio-slurry, or digestate, that comes out of biogas systems is rich in nutrients and can be applied to crops and vegetables to improve yield output and contribute to soil structure. It is also applied to treat plant diseases and to repel insects.

Biodigesters contribute to nine of the seventeen SDGs (Figure by: ABPP Hivos SNV)

More on the Dutch ‘Top Sectors’

The Netherlands’ enterprise policy has a specific track called the ‘Top Sector strategy’. Top Sectors are clusters of export-intensive businesses and knowledge institutions that account for the greatest concentration by far of Dutch R&D investment. These Top Sectors are making important contributions to solving societal challenges. The Top Sector strategy revolves around public-private partnerships in which entrepreneurs, knowledge and education institutions as well as government bodies cooperate on developing and implementing competition strategies and innovation agendas. Each Top Sector has its own specific character (in terms of technology, the nature of the economic activity and specific obstacles). The current project is supported by the Top Sectors Horticulture and Starting Materials and Agri-Food (Fragment from: ‘Navigating under Full Sail – 2017 Enterprise Policy Report’, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, The Netherlands).