Export file:


  • RIS(for EndNote,Reference Manager,ProCite)
  • BibTex
  • Text


  • Citation Only
  • Citation and Abstract

Biogas digestate and its economic impact on farms and biogas plants according to the upper limit for nitrogen spreading—the case of nutrient-burdened areas in north-west Germany

Institute for Farm Management, University of Hohenheim, Schloss, Osthof Süd, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany

Special Issues: Renewable energy systems and agro-residue management

At the end of 2012, an expert group presented its evaluation of the forthcoming amendment of the German Fertilizer Ordinance (DüV). The new proposal intends to include manure of plant origin in the calculation of the upper limit for nitrogen spreading, determined to be 170 kg per hectare. This would particularly affect regions of north-west Germany that are characterized by intensive animal husbandry and biogas production. This would lead to increased costs of the disposal of manure and the use of agricultural land, especially for pig farms and biogas producers. A spatial model of nutrient distribution demonstrates the regional impacts of the amendment, and example calculations at an enterprise level show that many farmers would no longer be able to suitably pay for the factors used. Monte Carlo analysis shows a relatively high probability that only successful pig farmers and biogas producers would be able to compensate for the rising costs of transport and land use in a sustainable manner. Successful piglet producers would improve their relative competitiveness compared to biogas producers and especially to pig-fattening enterprises. The adoption of new strategies should factor in both the water protection requirements and the ability of the affected farms to evolve and grow on a sustainable basis.
  Article Metrics


1. FNR (2014) Bioenergy in Germany: Facts and Figures (Solid Fuels, Biofuels, Biogas). Gülzow (Germany): Agency of Renewable Resources (FNR); 45p.

2. DBFZ (2013) Power production based on biomass (interim report). Leipzig (Germany): German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ); 153p. Report No. 03MAP250.

3. Whiting AJ, Azapagic A (2014) Life cycle environmental impacts of generating electricity and heat from biogas produced by anaerobic digestion. Energy 70: 181-193.    

4. Svoboda N, Taube F, Kluß C, et al. (2013) Crop production for biogas and water protection-A trade-off? Agr Ecosyst Environ 177: 36-47.    

5. Akbulut A, Ramazan K, Akbulut A (2014) Technical and Economic Assessments of Biogas Production in a Family Size Digester Utilizing Different Feedstock Rotations: Döger Case Study. Int J Green Energy 11: 113-128.    

6. Michel J, Weiske A, Möller K (2010) The effect of biogas digestion on the environmental impact and energy balances in organic cropping systems using the life-cycle assessment methodology. Renew Agr Food Syst 25: 204-218.    

7. Eppink FV, Rietveld P, Van Den Bergh JC, et al. (2008) Internalising the costs of fragmentation and nutrient deposition in spatial planning: Extending a decision support tool for the Netherlands. Land Use Policy 25: 563-578.    

8. Pognani M, D'Imporzano G, Scaglia B, et al. (2009) Substituting energy crops with organic fraction of municipal solid waste for biogas production at farm level: A full-scale plant study. Process Biochem 44: 817-821.    

9. Riva C, Schievano A, D'Imporzano G, et al. (2014) Production costs and operative margins in electric energy generation from biogas. Full-scale case studies in Italy. Waste Management 34: 1429-1435.

10. Ahlgren S, Bernesson S, Nordberg Å, et al. (2010) Nitrogen fertiliser production based on biogas—Energy input, environmental impact and land use. Bioresource technol 101: 7181-7184.

11. German Fertilizer Ordinance of 2012. Status: revised version as a result of the announcement from 27.2.2007 I 221, last amended by article 5, paragraph 36 G v. 24.2.2012 I 212.

12. European Nitrate-Directive of 1991 COUNCIL DIRECTIVE of 12th December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural, 91/676/EEC.

13. Hellwing A, Weisbjerg M, Møller H (2014) Enteric and manure-derived methane emissions and biogas yield of slurry from dairy cows fed grass silage or maize silage with and without supplementation of rapeseed. Livestock Science 165: 189-199.    

14. Zhao H, LI J, Liu J, et al. (2013) Microbial Community Dynamics during Biogas Slurry and Cow Manure Compost. J Integr Agr 12: 1087-1097.    

15. Amon TT, Amon B, Kryvoruchko V, et al. (2007) Biogas production from maize and dairy cattle manure-Influence of biomass composition on the methane yield. Agr Ecosyst Environ 118: 173-182.    

16. Linke BM, Muha I, Wittum G, et al. (2013) Mesophilic anaerobic co-digestion of cow manure and biogas crops in full scale German biogas plants: A model for calculating the effect of hydraulic retention time and VS crop proportion in the mixture on methane yield from digester and from digestate storage at different temperatures. Bioresource technol 130: 689-695.    

17. Seppälä M, Pyykkönen V, Väisänen A, et al. (2013) Biomethane production from maize and liquid cow manure—Effect of share of maize, post-methanation potential and digestate characteristics. Fuel 107: 209-216.    

18. Sgroi F, Foder M, Di Trapani AM, et al. (2015). Economic evaluation of biogas plant size utilizing giant reed. Renew Sust Energ Rev 49: 403-409.    

19. German Renewable Energy Act of 2009 and 2012. Status: 25th October 2008 (German Federal Law Gazette (BGBl. I page 2074), last amended by article 5 of the Act from 20th December 2012 (BGBl I page 2730).

20. LEL. Nutrient comparison 2011 for Farmers. Schwäbisch Gmünd (Germany): State Institute for development of Agriculture and Rural Areas Baden-Württemberg (LEL); 2012 Version 6.0, last updated: 07.03.2012.

21. StBA (2012) Agriculture, forestry and fishery—Farm fertilizer, livestock housing, pasture grazing. German Statistical Bureau. Available from: https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/LandForstwirtschaft/Produktionsmethoden/Stallhaltung_Weidehaltung2032806109004.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.

22. Blumenstein B, Bühle L, Wachendorf M, et al. (2012) Economic assessment of the integrated generation of solid fuel and biogas from biomass (IFBB) in comparison to different energy recovery, animal-based and non-refining management systems. Bioresource technol 119: 312-323.

23. Lantz M (2012) The economic performance of combined heat and power from biogas produced from manure in Sweden—A comparison of different CHP technologies. Applied Energy 98: 502-511.    

24. Smith K, Grylls J, Metcalfe P, et al. (2007) Nutrient value of digestate from farm-based biogas plants in Scotland. Report for Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department. Edinburgh. Available from: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/1057/0053041.pdf.

25. Wulf S, Jäger P, Döhler H (2006) Balancing of greenhouse gas emissions and economic efficiency for biogas-production through anaerobic co-fermentation of slurry with organic waste. Agr Ecosyst Environ 112: 2-3, 178-185.

26. Eurostat (2014) Agriculture statistics at regional level. European Statistical Bureau. Available from: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/extensions/EurostatPDFGenerator/getfile.php?file=

27. DAFA, Science, economy, society—working jointly toward improvements in animal husbandry. German Agriculture Research Alliance (DAFA), 2012. Available from: http://www.dafa.de/fileadmin/dam_uploads/images/Fachforen/Brosch-DAFA-FFNutztiereWeb-en.pdf.

28. DENA, Biogas injection in Germany—Overview. German Energy Agency (DENA), 2013. Available from: http://www.biogaspartner.de/einspeiseatlas/projektliste-deutschland.html.

29. KTBL, Baukost 2.9. Online program for calculating the cost of construction of agricultural buildings. Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture (KTBL), 2014. Available from: https://www.ktbl.de.

30. LfL. Basic information (status: 2013) for determining the fertilizer requirements for the implementation of the fertilizer ordinance, to calculate the KULAP nutrient balance, for calculating the nutrient balance according to farm gate approach. Freising-Weihenstephan (Germany): Bavarian State Institute for Agriculture (LfL), 2013 26p.

31. LfL, Gross margins and costing data. Calculation program, calculation data and background information for the calculation of economics of agricultural production methods. Bavarian State Institute for Agriculture (LfL), 2014. Available from: https://www.stmelf.bayern.de/idb/default.html;jsessionid=E6D0511D2BF8CD47B4EF740D311EBAA2.

32. Gemmeke B, Rieger C, Weiland P, et al. Biogas-Measuring Program II. Gülzow (Germany): Germany's Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR); 2009 158p.

33. KTBL, Efficiency calculator Biogas. Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture (KTBL), 2014. Available from: http://daten.ktbl.de/biogas/startseite.do#start.

34. KTBL (2012) Operational planning in agriculture 2012/2013 23rd Eds., Darmstadt, Germany.

35. Thiering J, Bahrs E (2011) Biogas production in Germany—Should the energetic use of manure be explicitly promoted? Ger J Agr Econ 60: 259-275.

36. Rubinstein RY, Kroese DP (2008) Simulation and the Monte Carlo method. 2. Eds. London, UK.

37. Robert CP, Casella G (2005) Monte Carlo statistical methods. 2. Eds., corr. 2. print. New York.

38. Samsudin MD, Mat Don M (2015) Assessment of bioethanol yield by S. cerevisiae grown on oil palm residues: Monte Carlo simulation and sensitivity analysis. Bioresource technol 175: 417-423.

39. Soltész A, Szoke S, Balogh P (2014) Analysis of Economic Risks in Sow Production. J Agr Inform 4: 10-21.

40. Gebrezgabher SA, Meuwissen MP, Oude Lansink AG (2012) Energy-neutral dairy chain in the Netherlands: An economic feasibility analysis. Biomass Bioenerg 36: 60-68.    

41. VEZG (2014) Written information from Dr Albert Hortmann-Scholten from 02.06.2014, Managing Director of the Union for producers association for cattle und meat (VEZG), Oldenburg (Germany).

42. LfL (2013) Written information from Mr. Ralf Hamm from 02.06.2014, Institute Betriebswirtschaft und Agrarstruktur (IBA). Freising-Weihenstephan (Germany): Bavarian State Institute of Agriculture (LfL).

43. LWK (2015) Market report animal feed for the region Weser-Ems. Chamber of Agriculture Lower Saxonia (LWK). Available from: http://www.lwk-niedersachsen.de/index.cfm/portal/82/nav/1861/article/26804/rss/0.html

44. 2006/112/EC, EUROPEAN COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2006/112/EC of 28th November 2006 on the common system of value-added tax.

45. Böhner R, Loch V, Schleicher R. Manure- and digestate transport (part 1)—Basic considerations and recommendations on the storage capacity and output. Freising, (Germany): Bavarian Biogas Forum Working Group for Agricultural Engineering and Agricultural Construction in Bavaria; 2011.

Copyright Info: © 2015, Eckart Petig, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

Download full text in PDF

Export Citation

Article outline

Show full outline
Copyright © AIMS Press All Rights Reserved