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A demand-based nutrient utilization approach to urban biogas plant investment based on regional crop fertilization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-29
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2017
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


This study aimed to develop a regional nutrient demand-based approach to assess the potential use of digestate nutrients from a planned biogas plant investment as a part of a regional circular economy concept. The assumed biogas plant is expected to treat urban wastes; biowastes (23,500 t/y) and sewage sludges (120,000 t/y) from the Tampere region, Finland (total population of 500,000). The calculation of the regional nutrient balance was based on the fertilizable crop areas, fertilization regimes and biomass nutrient amounts, with an assumption that livestock manures were primarily utilized in crop production. Subsequently, a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based methodology was applied to evaluate the transportation distances of nutrients from the biogas plant to the closest crop fields. As a result from the presented approach, livestock manure covered 41% and 12% of the phosphorus (P) and soluble nitrogen (N) need of the studied region. There was a residual potential for the regional utilization of biogas plant nutrients, which together with the livestock manure accounted for 50% of P and 15% of soluble-N need. Transportation of nutrients up to 40 km from the biogas plant is necessary if all nearby fields receive the waste-based nutrients, while the distance increased to 66 km if 30% of the local farmers are willing to use the nutrients. The approach presented in this study acts as a tool for planning nutrient cycles, which can be used to sustainably manage the regional nutrient flows when planning a new biogas plant investment.


  • Biogas plant, Biowaste, Digestate, Livestock manure, Nutrient recycling, Sewage sludge

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland