Fertiliser is one of the most significant on-farm input cost (~25%) for modern agriculture. Price instability due to a substantial increase in world demand for fertilisers, limited recourses (P and K) and costs associated with production has put financial pressure on farmers in Australia. On the flip side, there is substantial a amount of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) in agro-industrial waste streams in Australia, if recovered fully this could significantly reduce reliance on expensive manufactured fertilisers. There is a need to assess nutrient resources from the Australian agro-industrial waste streams and their potential for processing into mineral fertiliser products. The key objectives of the project is to demonstrate nutrient recovery technologies at pilot scale, develop novel nutrient recovery technologies, and agronomic testing of the recovered product.


  • AMPC
  • Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Grains Research and Development Corporation
  • Queensland Government

Project Outcomes

  • A substantial fraction of the Australian fertiliser market can be recovered from wastes (29% of N, 24% of P, 100% of K).
  • The best potential sources are intensive agriculture, located within 200 km of grain producing areas in Australia.
  • Struvite recovery from agro-industrial wastewater is economically attractive, particularly when combined with energy recovery, and provides an additional revenue stream to intensive agriculture, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and providing a competitive, renewable phosphorus stream.
  • Developed mechanistic model and tested novel electrodialysis process at pilot-scale, which can simultaneously recover nitrogen and potassium from wastewater
  • Waste derived fertiliser (struvite) has low heavy metal content, are odour free and the performance of waste derived struvite was equivalent to the tested commercial fertilisers.


  • Jensen, PJ, Mehta, CM and Batstone DJ (2016). Recovery of energy and nutrient resources from cattle paunch waste using temperature phased anaerobic digestion, Waste Management, 51, 72-80.
  • Brewster ET, Mehta CM, Radjenovic J, Batstone DJ. (2016) A mechanistic model for electrochemical nutrient recovery systems. Water Research, 94, 176-186.
  • Mehta, CM, Tucker, R, Poad, G, Davis, R., McGahan, E, Galloway, J, O’Keefe, M, Trigger, R and Batstone, DJ, Nutrients in Australian agro-industrial residues: Production, characteristics and mapping, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 1-17.
  • Batstone, DJ, Hulsen, T, Mehta, CM and Keller, J (2015), Platforms for energy and nutrient recovery from domestic wastewater: A review, Chemosphere, 140, 2-11. (I.F. = 3.3)
  • Latif, MA, Mehta, CM and Batstone, DJ (2015), Low pH anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge for enhanced phosphorous release, Water Research, 81, 288-293. (I.F. = 5.5)
  • Mehta, CM, Khunjar, Wendell W, Nguyen, V, Tait, S and Batstone, DJ (2013), Technologies to Recover Nutrients from Waste Streams: A Critical Review, Critical Review in Environmental Science and Technology, 45 (4), 385-427. (I.F. = 3.5)
  • Mehta, CM and Batstone, DJ (2013), Nucleation and growth kinetics of struvite crystallization, Water Research, 47 (8), 2890-2900. (I.F. = 5.5)
  • Mehta, CM and Batstone, DJ (2013), Nutrient solubilization and its availability following anaerobic digestion, Water Science and Technology, 67 (4), 756-763. (I.F. = 1.1)
  • Mehta, CM, Latif, AM, and McPhee, P (2016), Benefits of controlled struvite precipitation during anaerobic digestion, 2nd IWA Conference on Holistic Sludge Management, 7-9 June 2016, Malmo, Sweden.
  • Latif AM, Mehta, CM, and Batstone DJ (2016), Enhanced nutrient recovery via low pH anaerobic digestion, 2nd IWA Conference on Holistic Sludge Management, 7-9 June 2016, Malmo, Sweden.
  • Brewster, ET, Mehta, CM, Radjenovic, J and Batstone, DJ (2015), A model of electrodialysis for multi-ion systems, Watermatex 2015: 9th IWA Symposium on Systems Analysis and Integrated Assessment, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, 11-14 June 2015.
  • Mehta, CM, Jensen, PD and Batstone, DJ (2013), Pilot scale resource recovery from cattle paunch waste. In: 9th IWA International Symposium on Waste Management Problems in Agro-Industries, IWA International Symposium on Waste Management Problems in Agro-Industries, Kochi, Japan, 24-26 November 2014.
  • Mehta, CM, Tait, ST and Batstone, DJ (2012), Resources Recovery from Biosolids: Technology Options, AWA Biosolids and Source Management National Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, 18-20 June 2012.
  • Mehta, CM, and Batstone, DJ (2011), Pre-treatment of digestate to improve nutrient recovery via crystallisation, International Symposium on Anaerobic Digestion of Solid Waste and Energy Crop, 28 August-2 September 2011, Vienna, Austria.

Project members

Professor Damien Batstone

Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Associate Professor Paul Jensen

Associate Professor
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Dr Andrew Ward

Advance Qld Industry Research Fello
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Other members

  • Dr Chirag Mehta
  • Dr Stephan Tait
  • Asif Latif
  • Emma Thompson-Brewster