Use of Food Waste as Fertilizer Promoted for Better Harvests, Cleaner Rivers, and Lower Production Costs


In light of the recent panic buying of chemical fertilizers, the Yunlin County Government held a press conference on May 25 to promote recycling and reuse of digestate fluid and sediment to reduce farming costs. Magistrate Li-Shan Chang, along with the Director of the EPA Department of Water Quality Protection, Sheng-Chong Wu and livestock industry representatives, led a ceremony to promote environmental innovation and show appreciation for the work of farmers. The participants celebrated cooperation between government agencies and the private sector to put policies into action and create win-win situations for the livestock industry, agriculture, and environmental protection.

At the conference, the county government displayed organic matter products made with recycled food waste, digestate fluid for irrigation use and sediment made from livestock manure supplied by certified livestock farms. Rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and organic matter, these products benefit plant growth and can be used as fertilizer for farmland. Not only do they help satisfy crop growing needs of regular citizens and farmers, their use also serves as an example of collaboration between livestock farms and crop farmers. It is hoped that more livestock farms and crop farmers can join in to reutilize livestock manure and contribute to the remediation and protection of local rivers.

Since 2015, the EPA has been subsidizing the Yunlin County Government to carry out livestock manure reutilization and replace agrochemicals with organic fertilizers in order to increase farm production, reduce soil acidification, and reduce discharges of organic pollutants into rivers. A total of 268 livestock farms have filed applications to reutilize livestock manure; 12 newly purchased irrigation vehicles delivered; ten irrigation vehicle fleets have been set up, and five projects that use livestock manure processing facilities to treat livestock manure from other farms have been launched. The performance of Yunlin County with respect to manure reutilization ranks first in Taiwan.

By 31 May 2020, 920 livestock farms in Taiwan have been permitted to use digestate fluid and sediment as farmland fertilizers. In addition, 128 farms have successfully applied for agricultural waste reuse permits, and 292 farms have been permitted to use the recycled waste that meets the Effluent Standards (放流水標準) for crop irrigation. Not including the 38 farms that applied to use recycled manure in both ways, a total of 1,302 livestock farms now practice livestock manure reutilization in Taiwan.

Potential nationwide outcomes of the livestock resource reutilization policies are as follows: 618 metric tons per year of recycled manure waste are permitted for irrigation of 2,949 hectares of farmland. Annual organic pollution discharge to rivers can be reduced by 38,608 kg of BOD (biological oxygen demand), equivalent to the amount of pollution reduction achieved by 705 gravel contact oxidation treatment plants with a daily capacity of 10,000 metric tons. As much as 1,082 metric tons of nitrogen can be spread through the approved irrigation methods, equivalent to using 169,192 bags of Taiwan Fertilizer Co. Heiwan #5 Fertilizer. All of the above would result in cutting fertilizer costs by NT$57.52 million and water pollution control costs by NT$45.44 million, significantly improving river water and air quality.

Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (6)

Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)
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