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Chemical and biochemical characterisation of biomass flows

How can the quality of biomass flows be determined in the laboratory with a view to use as a soil improver or as a raw material for further processing?


Screening of crops, crop residues, starting materials and compost.

Chemical analyses

  • pH and EC
  • total concentrations of N, P, K, Mg, Ca
  • Available plant elements N, P, K, Mg, Ca
  • Heavy metal Cu, Cr, Cd, Pb, Ni

Biochemical characterisation

  • C/N as an indicator for decomposition of organic matter
  • OUR (oxygen uptake rate) for compost stability
  • Biodegradability on the basis of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin

Near Infrared Reflection Spectroscopy (NIRS)


ILVO has a dataset with the biochemical characteristics of a wide range of raw materials, composts and silage based on vegetable residues. ILVO uses Near Infrared Spectroscopy for rapid screening. The available calibration lines for various components are shown in the table. A high R2 and SD/SEP ratio means a good NIRS calibration and can therefore be used for rapid screening of biological flows.

Related publication

J. Viaene, B. Reubens, K. Willekens, C. Van Waes, S. De Neve, B. Vandecasteele. 2017. Potential of chopped heath biomass and spent growth media to replace wood chips as bulking agent for composting high N-containing residues. Journal of Environmental Management 197 338-350.

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