New evidence shows digestate has capacity to replace the “whole market” for peat

WRAP has published a series of documents based on their research into the potential for digestates in horticultural applications. In their words,

These have shown that there is early promise for the continued investigation of the use of quality digestate in horticultural applications such as growing media or as a liquid feed for plants.

The horticultural market is estimated in one of the reports to be worth £500m, so the prize for digestate producers could be huge. WRAP’s report on the potential for the market states that:

Within [horticulture] there is approximately 3,000,000 m3 of peat based media that could, theoretically, be replaced by other organic materials. Peat based media have been dominant since the 1970s. Their performance is seen as reliable and well understood with minimal “off nursery risk”. However a scenario is presented that indicates that the current AD sector has the theoretical capacity to replace this whole market segment. The case is also argued that there is a very significant potential for AD operators to convert what, in most instances, is a cost centre activity (the disposal of AD liquor and fibre) into a potential profit centre, by generating income for these recovered materials or at least reducing disposal fees.

Four trials considered the use of digestate in a range of applications in protected horticulture were conducted, including using digestate:

  • As an addition to wood/bark chips to create viable growing media blends
  • As a liquid feed for containerised strawberry production
  • In soil-less hydroponic trials
  • Use of the fibre in container composts


Alongside this, a literature review looked at existing evidence on digestate use in protected horticulture.

You can view the documents in full here.

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Tags: Wrap, digestate, horticulture, research, research and development, research and innovation, trial results, food waste operators, crop operators, Matt Hindle