An Integrated System of Organic Food Production and Urban Food Waste Recycling Using On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion and Fertigation

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1998: $142,623.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $138,978.00
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Anne Barkdoll
Full Circle Solutions, Inc.

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: rye, sorghum (milo)
  • Vegetables: greens (leafy), tomatoes


  • Crop Production: cover crops, fertigation, foliar feeding, municipal wastes, organic fertilizers, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: soil analysis
  • Sustainable Communities: urban/rural integration


    A rumen-like machine that digests food wastes was tested by organic farmers in Florida seeking an alternative to expensive organic fertilizers. Anaerobic bacteria in the digester convert the food waste to carbon dioxide and methane while the nutrients end up in the water, leaving behind a small amount of solid residue that can be land applied or cured to a mature compost. The digester is housed at Possum Hollow Farm, where Joe Durando recycles food waste from a cafeteria. He uses the methane to heat the digester. The nutrient-rich water is used to fertilize crops on four farms.

    Project objectives:

    Objectives are to: 1) Implement an integrated system to recycle nutrients and organic matter through on-farm anaerobic digestion of urban food waste; 2) Evaluate liquid fraction fertigation methods with regard to biofouling; 3) Test the agronomic response to the liquid fraction; 4) Determine the economic feasibility and logistics of this concept from waste collection to nutrient reuse; 5) Educate farmers, waste haulers, environmental regulators, restaurant owners and extension personnel about this concept.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.