Nutrient rich spent litter is typically stockpiled for composting before land application. Key concerns with this handling are uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient leaching. The solid phase leachbed (solid-phase anaerobic digester) has been identified as a potential anaerobic digestion technology for on-farm treatment of solid manure residue, as it is simpler and cost-effective compared to technology alternatives and promotes energy and nutrient recovery from waste. This project will study the performance of pilot-scale leachbed (200L) for treatment of spent litter from piggeries for decentralised agriculture application.


  • Quantum Power Limited
  • Australian Egg Corporation Limited
  • Port CRC
  • Australian Pork

Project Outcomes


  • Pilot trials showed recovery of 50% methane potential recovery from spent bedding.
  • Process performance was hindered by insufficient solid-liquid contact, but ultimately biological inhibition due to dissolved organic compound (eg. ammonia, humic substances).
  • Overall study highlighted potential for leachbeds at full-scale treating solid manure residues, but indicate the need for further research to mitigate biological inhibition for better efficiency.


  • Provide sustainable anaerobic digestion alternatives for agricultural and municipal waste residues by creating business opportunities and enhance profitability for agriculture.
  • Overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Provide data for the development of future carbon emissions abatement policy and legislation in Australia.


  • Yap, S.D., Astals, S., Jensen, P.D., Batstone, D.J., Tait, S. 2016. Pilot-scale testing of a leachbed for anaerobic digestion of livestock residues on-farm. Waste Management, 50, 300–308.

The project featured in a video program by The National Agricultural Manure Management Program (NAMMP).

Project members

Associate Professor Paul Jensen

Associate Professor
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Professor Damien Batstone

Professor and Centre Director, ACWEB
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Other members

  • Shao Dong Yap
  • Dr Sergi Astals-Garcia
  • Dr Stephen Tait