ECN Position Paper on Soil Organic Matter

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ECN Position Paper on Soil Organic Matter

Organic matter for the preservation of soil health and fertility

The development of separate collection schemes for bio-waste and high-quality recycling has made available a large quantity of mature, safe and healthy compost and digestate estimated to be in the region of 12 to 16 million tonnes every year across Europe[1],. Compost and digestate are effective soil improvers, however, farmers struggle to use them properly for technical and economic reasons.

European agricultural soils have become degraded following many decades of use, resulting in both reduced quality and productivity. The unsustainable use of chemical inputs has also led to water and air pollution. The European Commission could guide and support the improvement of soil through a coordinated and harmonized approach in all Member States.

This position paper points out the importance of stimulating the utilisation of high-quality compost and digestate to:

  • Maintain, increase, and minimise losses of soil organic matter on all fields and degraded areas
  • Benefit from the additional positive effects associated to the use of compost and digestate to soil health and fertility
  • Encourage the use of recycled nutrients and their more efficient management through their life cycle.

[1] ECN Status Report 2019: European Bio-waste Management. Overview of Bio-Waste Colllection, Treatment & Markets Across Europe. https://www.compostnetwork.info/download/ecn-status-report-2019/

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