Main research question
The key research question of BioCASH is how resource management can be optimized to close nutrient, energy and biomass loops. The aim of the project is to integrate urban composts and green wastes in multi-purpose agro-ecological production systems. The management should be economically viable, socially acceptable and long-term sustainable beyond the agricultural sector. Soil health is here an important criterion for assessing sustainability.
ILVO is involved in activities on biochar-based fertilizers and cascading use of biochar and biomass. The objective of this activity is to assess the characteristics and the added value as renewable fertilizer of combinations of biochar with products of waste treatment processes. Biochar is a source of stable C but its agronomic value can be increased by combining it with other biomass and sources of nutrients. The link between soil management and the soil microbiome is assessed for 5 field trials in northern Belgium with different strategies on soil management. For these field trials the top soil has been characterized both chemically and biologically. ILVO is also involved in assessing existing and new bio-economy policy instruments.
BioCASH creates a modeling framework both at the level of site specific production systems and at landscape level. From the soil perspective, the modeling toolbox considers soil health (e.g. soil biodiversity, carbon sequestration, capacity of water retention, nutrient cycling) and safety (i.e. analysis of contaminants such as metals and microplastics). From the agronomic perspective, the toolbox translates the effects on soil functions into soil fertility and the outcomes on plant growth. From the circularity perspective, cost benefit analysis and environmental footprint analysis of biocircular supply chains of waste streams are model components in the toolbox.