Home|Valorization of Mediterranean Agro-Industrial Waste for agronomical purposes
Valorization of Mediterranean Agro-Industrial Waste for agronomical purposes
Improving the sustainability of Mediterranean agro-ecosystems (Section 1) Developing farming systems able to generate income, to create employment and to contribute to a balanced territorial development (Section 2)
Looking for collaboration in RIA o IA projects within the framework of upcoming PRIMA calls.
Particular interest in "Sustainability and competitiveness of Mediterranean greenhouse and intensive horticulture" where our expertise can be spent for evaluating new bio-based biodegradable plastic products (i.e. pots, film, etc.) and innovative peat-free growth media (soilless systems) properly designed and mainly made by a renewable product (mature, stable and safe compost) deriving from a certified chain of agro-industrial waste
DESCRIPTION OF YOUR ORGANISATION:
Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Systems in the Mediterranean (ISAFOM) is part of the Department of Biology, Agriculture and Food Science of the National Research Council (CNR), Italy. ISAFOM has a "critical mass" of 89 staff members, spread in four Research Units (RU) located in different location: Ercolano (NA) - headquarter, Perugia, Catania, Rende (CS).
ISAFOM-mission is to study and analyze the physical, chemical and biological processes that determine the functioning and dynamics of agro-ecosystems in the Mediterranean climate, to improve the quality and quantity of productions, to optimize the use of natural resources and to valorize the functions of agricultural and forestry systems.
Since 2000s CNR-ISAFOM-Perugia RU has been focusing on novel strategies for bioremediation of recalcitrant waste streams from the agro-industry and, recently, developed a simplified, efficient and cost-effective end-of-pipe composting procedure able to easily turn the olive mill waste into stable and mature compost, useful for different agronomic purposes.
CNR-ISAFOM-Perugia also designed and homemade two LAB-tools:
1) COMPOSTER, fit-for-purpose equipment which includes two 35-liters adiabatic bioreactors, able to reproduce air-forced static pile composting and analyze in real time emissions released during biodegradation; the main parameters of interest, such as: weight loss, air flow rate, temperature, moisture, O2, CO2, NH3, H2S and VOCs emissions are automatically monitored in the exhausted air. It can weigh up in real time the true mass balance, thus speculating on carbon sequestration and/or reduction of CO2 emission, as the main contributor to global warming.
2) BIODEG, apparatus provided with twelve 2-liters bioreactors, for assessing the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of plastic polymers under controlled composting condition, according to the UNI EN ISO 14855-1 standard.
Further labs include SOUR (Specific Oxygen Uptake Rate) and DRI (Dynamic Respiration Index), devices able to describe the biological stability and the agronomic safety of compost, and a fully equipped chemical lab for elemental analyses, including CHNS analyzer (Macro-cube Elementar) and ICP-OES (ICAP 7000, Thermo-Fisher).
ISAFOM-CNR, Perugia has recently developed an innovative procedure that can easily turn the waste resulting from olive oil mills into an excellent soil conditioner/organic fertilizer.
It is realized through a simplified static composting procedure conducted in gas-permeable bags with passive aeration of the biomass.
The technology is especially suited to the treatment of the humid pomace produced by “two phases” modern olive mills, ideally working in line with it.
In a first step, ground olive pits is recovered from the olive husk for energetic purposes; the wet residue is then mixed with proper organic waste materials chosen so as to obtain a homogeneous, porous and non-percolating mixture which is immediately transferred into the gas-permeable plastic bags and stored outdoor in a place protected from the rainfall; in this phase, inside of the bags starts spontaneously a natural process of aerobic biological maturation which proceeds for about two months without any external support.
Later on, bags (recyclable for the next year) are emptied and the content chopped, homogenized and slightly re-hydrated to allow a short phase of "curing" of the biomass arranged in a pile, able to ensure better chemical-physical and microbiological characteristics of the end product (compost) for the best agronomic use.
- alternative solution to the expensive procedures for disposing olive mill waste, (land spreading or purification of in treatment plants);
- Valorization of the "humid husk" produced by modern two-phase olive mills.
- olive pits (about 10% of the humid pomace) is a marketable product (about 150 €/ton) mainly sold as a fuel and/or for other industrial uses.
- the end product (compost) obtained through a short and certifiable chain, can be successfully used in agriculture, even in organic farming. In the plant nursery industry, it has proven suitable substitute for the use of peat, replacing a fossil product with a high environmental impact. In addition, it is characterized by a high content of humic substances (about 15%) and of elements of plant nutrition (about 3% of N and K, as well as trace elements) as well as by a high biological stability, low phytotoxicity and an interesting suppressiveness against some phyto-pathogens of agricultural interest, all features that make it similar to a stable and mature compost, according to the reference standard (DL 75/2010).
The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area will devise new R&I approaches to improve water availability and sustainable agriculture production in a region heavily distressed by climate change, urbanisation and population growth
The PRIMA programme is an Art.185 initiative supported and funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.