Farmer perceptions and use of organic waste products as fertilisers – A survey study of potential benefits and barriers

S.D.C. Case, M. Oelofse, Y. Hou, O. Oenema, L.S. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Processing of organic waste can improve its nutrient availability and content, and thereby increases the agricultural value of the waste when used as fertilisers, while contributing to a more bio-based, ‘circular’ economy. It is therefore important to guide future policies on waste management and on the development of industries related to processing of organic wastes from agriculture, industry and households. However, there is a lack of understanding of the decision-making processes underlying the use of processed and unprocessed organic waste-based fertilisers by farmers. We conducted a survey asking farmers in Denmark about their current use of organic fertiliser, their interest in using alternative types in the future, and their perception of most important barriers or advantages to using organic fertilisers. A representative sample of farmers with > 10 ha of land were sent a questionnaire; in total 452 responses (28% response rate) were received. Almost three quarters of respondents (72%) used organic fertiliser, and half of the arable/horticultural farms (without livestock) used unprocessed manures, suggesting significant manure exchange from animal production farms to arable farms in Denmark. Looking forward three years from the time of the survey, respondents did not expect to increase the amount of organic fertiliser they used. However, future interest in using processed manures (PRO) and urban waste-derived fertiliser (URB) was greater than their use at the time of the survey (66% interest vs 19% current use of PRO and 32% vs 9% current use of URB). Anaerobically-digested slurry, acidified slurry, and composted/thermally-dried manure or slurry were products of particular interest. A large percentage (40%) of farmers did not have access to processed forms of organic fertiliser, particularly PRO (35% of respondents). Farm and farmer characteristics such as farming activity, farmer age, farm size, and conventional/organic farming influenced the likelihood of future interest in alternative organic fertilisers. The most important barriers to the use of organic fertiliser identified among respondents were: unpleasant odour for neighbours, uncertainty in nutrient content, and difficulty in planning and use. Improved soil structure was clearly chosen as the most important advantage or reason to use organic fertiliser, followed by low cost to buy or produce, and ease of availability. Danish government policies aim to increase in manure processing (e.g. increasing anaerobic digestion for bioenergy recovery). A mix of industry and government-led measures could potentially increase availability and farmer-use to meet these targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-95
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume151
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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organic wastes
organic fertilizers
animal manures
fertilizers
farmers
processing waste
farms
industry
Denmark
nutrient content
waste management
anaerobic digestion
farm size
bioenergy
animal production
soil structure
organic production
nutrient availability
decision making
households

Keywords

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biosolids
  • Manure processing
  • Organic fertiliser
  • Sewage sludge
  • Technology adoption

Cite this

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title = "Farmer perceptions and use of organic waste products as fertilisers – A survey study of potential benefits and barriers",
abstract = "Processing of organic waste can improve its nutrient availability and content, and thereby increases the agricultural value of the waste when used as fertilisers, while contributing to a more bio-based, ‘circular’ economy. It is therefore important to guide future policies on waste management and on the development of industries related to processing of organic wastes from agriculture, industry and households. However, there is a lack of understanding of the decision-making processes underlying the use of processed and unprocessed organic waste-based fertilisers by farmers. We conducted a survey asking farmers in Denmark about their current use of organic fertiliser, their interest in using alternative types in the future, and their perception of most important barriers or advantages to using organic fertilisers. A representative sample of farmers with > 10 ha of land were sent a questionnaire; in total 452 responses (28{\%} response rate) were received. Almost three quarters of respondents (72{\%}) used organic fertiliser, and half of the arable/horticultural farms (without livestock) used unprocessed manures, suggesting significant manure exchange from animal production farms to arable farms in Denmark. Looking forward three years from the time of the survey, respondents did not expect to increase the amount of organic fertiliser they used. However, future interest in using processed manures (PRO) and urban waste-derived fertiliser (URB) was greater than their use at the time of the survey (66{\%} interest vs 19{\%} current use of PRO and 32{\%} vs 9{\%} current use of URB). Anaerobically-digested slurry, acidified slurry, and composted/thermally-dried manure or slurry were products of particular interest. A large percentage (40{\%}) of farmers did not have access to processed forms of organic fertiliser, particularly PRO (35{\%} of respondents). Farm and farmer characteristics such as farming activity, farmer age, farm size, and conventional/organic farming influenced the likelihood of future interest in alternative organic fertilisers. The most important barriers to the use of organic fertiliser identified among respondents were: unpleasant odour for neighbours, uncertainty in nutrient content, and difficulty in planning and use. Improved soil structure was clearly chosen as the most important advantage or reason to use organic fertiliser, followed by low cost to buy or produce, and ease of availability. Danish government policies aim to increase in manure processing (e.g. increasing anaerobic digestion for bioenergy recovery). A mix of industry and government-led measures could potentially increase availability and farmer-use to meet these targets.",
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Farmer perceptions and use of organic waste products as fertilisers – A survey study of potential benefits and barriers. / Case, S.D.C.; Oelofse, M.; Hou, Y.; Oenema, O.; Jensen, L.S.

In: Agricultural Systems, Vol. 151, 2017, p. 84-95.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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T1 - Farmer perceptions and use of organic waste products as fertilisers – A survey study of potential benefits and barriers

AU - Case, S.D.C.

AU - Oelofse, M.

AU - Hou, Y.

AU - Oenema, O.

AU - Jensen, L.S.

PY - 2017

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AB - Processing of organic waste can improve its nutrient availability and content, and thereby increases the agricultural value of the waste when used as fertilisers, while contributing to a more bio-based, ‘circular’ economy. It is therefore important to guide future policies on waste management and on the development of industries related to processing of organic wastes from agriculture, industry and households. However, there is a lack of understanding of the decision-making processes underlying the use of processed and unprocessed organic waste-based fertilisers by farmers. We conducted a survey asking farmers in Denmark about their current use of organic fertiliser, their interest in using alternative types in the future, and their perception of most important barriers or advantages to using organic fertilisers. A representative sample of farmers with > 10 ha of land were sent a questionnaire; in total 452 responses (28% response rate) were received. Almost three quarters of respondents (72%) used organic fertiliser, and half of the arable/horticultural farms (without livestock) used unprocessed manures, suggesting significant manure exchange from animal production farms to arable farms in Denmark. Looking forward three years from the time of the survey, respondents did not expect to increase the amount of organic fertiliser they used. However, future interest in using processed manures (PRO) and urban waste-derived fertiliser (URB) was greater than their use at the time of the survey (66% interest vs 19% current use of PRO and 32% vs 9% current use of URB). Anaerobically-digested slurry, acidified slurry, and composted/thermally-dried manure or slurry were products of particular interest. A large percentage (40%) of farmers did not have access to processed forms of organic fertiliser, particularly PRO (35% of respondents). Farm and farmer characteristics such as farming activity, farmer age, farm size, and conventional/organic farming influenced the likelihood of future interest in alternative organic fertilisers. The most important barriers to the use of organic fertiliser identified among respondents were: unpleasant odour for neighbours, uncertainty in nutrient content, and difficulty in planning and use. Improved soil structure was clearly chosen as the most important advantage or reason to use organic fertiliser, followed by low cost to buy or produce, and ease of availability. Danish government policies aim to increase in manure processing (e.g. increasing anaerobic digestion for bioenergy recovery). A mix of industry and government-led measures could potentially increase availability and farmer-use to meet these targets.

KW - Anaerobic digestion

KW - Biosolids

KW - Manure processing

KW - Organic fertiliser

KW - Sewage sludge

KW - Technology adoption

U2 - 10.1016/j.agsy.2016.11.012

DO - 10.1016/j.agsy.2016.11.012

M3 - Article

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SP - 84

EP - 95

JO - Agricultural Systems

JF - Agricultural Systems

SN - 0308-521X

ER -