The anaerobic digestion process creates the byproduct, digestate, which will contain a high concentration of valuable nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These nutrients are key ingredients in the manufacture of fertilizers, and are essential components of all large scale agricultural and horticultural growing operations. The Company’s digestate is intended to be sold as an organic soil amendment that will replace fossil fuel based fertilizers. In addition to its organic composition, the product will be certified as “Made in Georgia”, which will assist FGE in executing sales contracts of the product regionally. The domestic organic fertilizer market is expanding rapidly, as the organic food and products trend increases across the country. In 2012, organic food and products sales were estimated at $81.3 billion, representing annual growth of 13.5% over 2011. Through 2018, the organics market is expected to experience 9.4% annual growth.
The use of digestate as fertilizer has a substantial history, dating to the use of Milwaukee’s sewage sludge as fertilizer in 1927. Over the last two decades, the global use of anaerobic digestate as fertilizer at agricultural and horticultural operations, as well as on golf courses and parks has increased dramatically. Currently, the use of digestate as fertilizer is more commonplace in Europe due to the region’s abundance of anaerobic digestion facilities, but as North American biogas facilities are becoming increasingly popular, so is the economical use of the digestate.
Digestate is typically separated into solid and liquid components, with the solid portion containing 30% - 35% of dry content, and the liquid portion containing 2% - 15% of dry content. The solid portion is generally composted, as this offers the greatest market opportunities for the digestate. Current uses for compost include: agriculture field applications, nursery fields and beds, silviculture, turf and lawn care, sod production, potting mixes, soil blends, horticultural substrate, landscape mulch, planting backfill, biofilter media, bioremediation of contaminated soils, land reclamation and habitat restoration, erosion and sediment control and compost teas.