Farmers' reasons to accept bio-based fertilizers: A choice experiment in seven different European countries

Juan Tur-Cardona, Ole Bonnichsen, Stijn Speelman, Ann Verspecht, Louise Carpentier, Lies Debruyne, Fleur Marchand, Brian H Jacobsen, Jeroen Buysse

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


European agriculture is a large importer of nutrients in the form of chemical fertilizers. Additionally,
countries with livestock-intensive farming face problems with disposal of nutrients in animal manure.
The availability of chemical fertilizers has changed farmers' past dependence on manure. Nowadays,
despite its nutrient content, manure is sometimes considered as a waste product. However, if the
characteristics of manure and other waste streams could be enhanced through processing, it could be
transformed into an alternative bio-based fertilizer recycling the nutrients within the farming sector. This
would also create opportunities for nutrient exchange between different European regions. However, a
key question is what is needed for farmers to accept these products as replacements for their current
chemical fertilizer use? In this paper, key attributes determining the acceptance of alternative bio-based
fertilizer products are identified. Based on the identified attributes, a discrete choice experiment was
designed to reveal farmers' preferences and Willingness-To-Pay for these attributes. Identical experiments
were conducted in seven different European countries. The results indicate that farmers from the
different countries have common preferences for concentrated products that have certainty in the nitrogen
content and at a lower price than chemical fertilizer. Other attributes such as the presence of
organic carbon, hygienization of the product and fast release of nutrients were only statistically significant
in some countries. The results imply that a bio-based fertilizer similar to chemical fertilizers could
be sold at around 65% of the price of mineral fertilizer. Additionally, we show which attributes industry
should take into consideration when estimating the demand for new bio-based fertilizer products.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number197
Pages (from-to)406-416
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • B410-agricultural-hydrology
  • Choice experiment
  • Bio-based fertilizer
  • Nutrient recycling
  • Processing


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