The main goal of the LIFE-OPTIMAL 2012 Project is the demonstration of an innovative approach for the handling of the manure produced by livestock farming, which aims to:

  • The decrease of regional nutrient surplus in the air, caused by intensive rearing of diary cattle and agricultural land shortages
  • Production of natural high quality both solid and liquid fertilizers, that can be used in adjacent regions of the same province, especially for the growing of wine and orchard
  • Conservation of the life standards of the farmers involved in the project. They do not have to reduce the amount of animals in order to meet the environmental specifications.

Specific objectives

The specific objectives of the project, in descending order, are the following:

  • Implementation of an environmentally sound system of the treatment of solid and liquid manure in an anaerobic digestion plant;

  • Reduction of the nitrogen/nitrates load per hectare of agricultural land ( predominantly grassland) considering half part of manure will be turned into natural fertilizer, which will be used for the fertilization of vineyards and orchards, the amount of nitrogen and nitrates that currently is spread on grassland of the project area, will be halved. This will help farmers in complying with the ceilings of Nitrates Directive 91/676/CEE, without need of reducing the number of animals;

  • The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through replacement of mineral fertilizers by fertilizers of own production;

  • Decrease of emissions of ammonia in the atmosphere. The transformation of part of the ammonia contained in manure in high quality liquid fertilizer and the development of a high precision and low emission system for the spreading of the digestate, will allow to comply with the Directive 2001/81/CE on national emissions ceilings for atmospheric pollutants (including ammonia).

Furthermore the projects aims to demonstrate that innovative systems is transferable to other regions of Europe with similar features.

Expected results

Thanks to the implementation of this project the following concrete results can be achieved:

General Aims:

  • Reduction of the nutrient load by 50% in the area in which the system is implemented. With the digestate treatment plant, the amount of digestate used to be spread on grassland and arable land of the farms participating will be halved;

  • Increase of the quality and the diversity of ecological fertilizers, which can be used by the southtirolian farmers. Out of estimated 30500t of digestate it will be possible to produce 2500t of solid and 130t liquid fertilizers;

  • Conservation of income for the farmers in mountainous regions.

Specific aims of the project:

  • Faultless functioning of the plant due to the demonstrative activities of the project.
  • Decrease of nitrate load. Due to production of solid fertilizers and their use for fertilization processes of vineyards and orchards in other areas of South Tyrolean Province, a reduction of nitrate load equal to 50 kg per LU per year will be achieved;
  • Reduction of the ammonia emissions. Different production modalities, such as covered storage tanks, the spreading system of high precision and low emissions and the innovative treatment of the digestate, will allow to reduce the quantity of NH3 emitted in the atmosphere, which is equivalent to 12 kg of nitrogen per LU;
  • Increase of information and knowledge exchange between the general popoulation, the farmers, the local authorities and other stakeholders involved directly or indirectly in the project,about environmental issues, reduction of pollutant emission and environmentally sound systems for manure management. This result will be achieved through the communication and dissemination actions.

Planned activities

To achieve the objectives reported above, a ecological friendly systems in order to manage the digest (coming from traditional biogas plants) will be implemented. The powerplant feeded by manure of the dairy cattle farmers of the Wipptal will be put in operation on end of the year. The digestate, produced by the system will in part be used for the fertilization of the fields (especially grassland) of the farmers taking part of the project. The existing biogas plant permits to solve the problem of the odour (spreading digestate instead of slurry or manure) and also to produce electricity and heat, which are sold, but does not solve the environmental problem of the excessive load of nutrients and ammoniac produced in the area.
The solution proposed is to annex to the biogas plant a digestate treatment plant, formed by the following sections: screw press separator, centrifuge separator (decanter), ultrafiltration unit, reserve osmosis, zeolite filter unit, ammonia stripping unit and drying and pelletting unit.

Trough this system, two types of high quality fertilizer will be produced:

  • A solid one, obtained by separating the solid fraction of the digestate, that can be enriched with the concentrates from the ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis process in order to produce a “new fertilizer” with nutrient concentrations and proportions according to the requirements of the fertilized crops;

  • A liquid one, consisting in an ammonium sulphate solution, obtained from the ammonia coming from the ammonia stripping unit.

The fertilizers will be used in other areas of the region, for vineyards and orchards.

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