If you’ve come into our shop and bought or picked up a bag of Melcourt’s Farmyard Soil Improver, you may have discovered that the main ‘feeding’ component in it is anaerobic digestate. It’s also the reason why The Natural Plant Food Company came into business. So we’d like to introduce it to you, via some basic explanation and greenwashing.
To start, you'll need to know that anaerobic digestion is the process in which organic matter (from plants or animals) is broken down by microorganisms without the presence of oxygen. This creates high levels of both methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), alongside small amounts of water/vapour. The carbon dioxide is then extracted to leave just methane, a natural gas that is used for fuel.
Organic matter doesn’t just disappear into the atmosphere after this process, so what’s left behind is anaerobic digestate (crazy!). This is a mixture of both liquid and solid, which is then extracted for use as fertiliser. The digestate is made up of 90 – 95% of the original biomass and retains the raw levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK), as none of which are present in the biogas. You may recognise these elements as the magic three always mentioned by gardeners.
The solid digestate looks a bit like compost, which is why it's perfect when blended with green compost/bark fines to create Melcourt’s farmyard. Which is also vegan friendly, by the way.
The liquid looks like what you’d expect from digested organic matter, smelly and brown. This makes it a lot easier to apply to things like houseplants, because you wouldn’t want solid organic matter in your house; or on the top of existing plants like lawns, where it can be added to water.
What makes it so great is that this whole process is renewable and every product of the process has a use. The biogas goes off to homes or industries via the national network, the digestate to whichever horticultural or agricultural use its fate lies in. It can even help fertilise the crops that then create the waste for the next batch of biomass, one big circle.
Meaning that farmers, like the owners of The Natural Plant Food Company, can not only put their bio waste to good use, but also help the planet by helping to decrease the amount of synthetic chemicals produced and used in food/plant growing. Never mind all the renewable energy it creates and fracking it can help to stop.
Alternatives like this are important in horticulture, an industry which is seemingly “green” on the outside but produces a lot of waste! By helping to support sustainable waste processing, even down to their recyclable packaging, Melcourt and The Natural Plant Food Company are doing great things. Not to mention that all their materials are sourced from the UK, so no extra fossil fuels are burnt in big overseas shipping operations. We, for one, are all for it.
P.S: We're not really greenwashing, we really do try to do better. Enjoy the cows!