As of January 1, 2021, regulations of fertilizer use in Germany will be tightened as part of the country’s continuing efforts to reduce the presence of contaminants in the environment. Against this backdrop, experiments are underway in various places to test whether farmers can get by with less fertilizer.
One of them is taking place in Drebkau in Lusatia region in the eastern German state of Brandenburg. As part of the Land Innovation Lusatia (LIL) project, researchers were able to replace fertilizer with an organic lignite granulate called Novihum. It has many of the same properties as humus, the nutrient-rich layer of soil so essential to agriculture.
“We achieved the same yield of silage maize using Novihum and a mineral fertilizer of 50 kilos of pure nitrogen as on a neighboring control field which was fertilized with 80 kilos of nitrogen only,” said Dagmar Schenke, the chairwoman of the Drebkau Agricultural Association, in a company press release.
Novihum was developed around the turn of the millennium by researchers at the Technical University of Dresden. Today, the company is located in Dortmund.