Sustainable Bio-Fertilizer from Anaerobically Digested Animal Manure

EPA Grant Number: SU836120
Title: Sustainable Bio-Fertilizer from Anaerobically Digested Animal Manure
Investigators: Zhang, Ruihong
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016
Project Amount: $14,965
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals


The goal of this project is to develop innovative treatment technologies and biofertilizer products for better utilization of dairy manure as a valuable energy and nutrient resource in order to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and food production. Specifically, research will be conducted to transform anaerobically digested dairy manure into effective biofertilizer products and determine the optimal methods for applying such biofertilizer products for growing tomatoes and other high value specialty crops.


The anaerobic digester effluent of a dairy manure digester near UC Davis will first be characterized for pH, solids, nutrient and salt contents. The physical and chemical separation processes will be designed and tested in the laboratory and the process parameters optimized to produce, at low cost, solid nutrient-rich, pelletized biofertilizer products ideal for transportation and packing. The biofertilizer products will then be evaluated for growing tomato plants. The costs and benefits of new treatment technologies and products will be determined. The research results will be presented to dairy and crop producers in California as well as to the researchers and technology developers.

Expected Results:

It is expected that a profitable pelletized biofertilizer product will be developed from dairy manure digestate and will function desirably as a fertilizer for specialty crops such as tomatoes. Successful results from this project will help the agricultural industry increase adoption of manure treatment technologies, such as anaerobic digestion, which will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems associated with over fertilization of areas surrounding dairies. The successful demonstration of a cost effective strategy to produce an easily transportable and effective fertilizer product from digestate will incentivize the adoption of a new vision of integrated food, fertilizer, and fuel production within the agricultural industry. This vision has the potential to positively impact the environment through pollution reduction and improve the lives and economy of rural communities through the creation of new jobs and product streams from previously untapped natural resources.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Biofertilizer, Anaerobic digestion, Dairy manure, Nutrient Management, Nutrient Recovery

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report