Technological watch

Resource Utilization of Biogas Waste as Fertilizer in China Needs More Inspections Due to the Risk of Heavy Metals

The utilization of livestock waste has attracted increasing attention in recent years. The presence of high levels of heavy metals is a major obstacle to the utilization of biogas as a fertilizer resource. In this study, the heavy metal contents in biogas residue, slurry, and discharged sewage from three representative farms of gooseries, henneries, and dairy farms in the Yangtze River Basin were investigated and assessed. The results demonstrated that heavy metals, including Cd, Mn, As, Cu, Pb, Cr, Zn, etc., could be detected in all biogas residues, with significantly different contents between farm types (p < 0.005). Specifically, biogas residues from the goosery and the dairy farms met “China’s Organic Fertilizer Standards” (COF Standards); however, Cd concentrations in biogas residues from hennery farms exceeded the limits by five times. The concentrations of Cd and Pb in biogas slurries from all of the farms exceeded the limits of the “China Farmland Irrigation Water Quality Standard” (CFIWQ Standard). In particular, the Pb concentrations in biogas slurry from the dairy farms exceeded the limits by 29 times, and the discharged sewage from all three farm types complied with the comprehensive sewage discharge standards in China; however, only that from the goosery farms was suitable for irrigation. Thus, it is recommended to increase the feed selection, biogas engineering, and biological-purification-supporting technology, and to carry out regular sampling inspections of the biogas residue, slurry, and discharged sewage for heavy metals, so that environmental and crop pollution risks can be reduced when they are used as sources of nutrients for eco-friendly agriculture.

Publication date: 06/01/2022

Author: Yajun Chang

Reference: doi: 10.3390/agriculture12010072



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.