ECN highlights the importance of soil organic matter on soil fertility

ECN submitted its views on the Integrated Nutrient Management Action Plan, responding to the Commission’s questionnaire before the deadline set for August 26th.

The action plan, designed to bring the level of nitrogen and phosphorus in the environment back to safety levels, has now passed its consultation phase. In addition to answering the survey, we highlighted the importance of soil organic matter in contributing to soil fertility, which is one of the main objectives of the action plan. Therefore, we suggested to consider soil organic matter alongside nitrogen and phosphorus within the initiative, since they synergistically improve and maintain soil health. Indeed, nutrients work differently when applied to the soil through compost and digestate, making them a sustainable alternative to mineral fertilizers.

Furthermore, ECN stressed that EU policies and legislation are not sufficiently coherent with one another, referring more specifically to the Fertilising Products Regulation (EU 2019/1009), the Animal By-Products Regulation (EC 1069/2009) and the Waste Framework Directive (EU 2018/851). Regulatory constraints are in fact the major obstacles to the recycling of nutrients. Bottlenecks still exist with regard to bio-waste derived organic soil improvers and organic fertilizers’ presence on the EU market, consequently hampering as well the proper nutrient recycling. We pointed out that these hurdles need to be properly addressed to also ensure the effectiveness of measures aiming at reducing the loss of nutrients and soil pollution.

The Commission is now expected to publish its Communication before the end of this year.