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The condense managing system: production of novel fertilisers from manure and olive mill wastewater (CONDENSE)
Start date: Sep 1, 2011, End date: Jun 30, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Modern agricultural practice is largely based on the use of chemical fertilisers. Farmers use fertilisers containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in order to achieve an economically viable level of production. The application of these fertilisers ensures there is sufficient food to meet global demand. Inadequate provision of nutrients to crops would result in worldwide famine. Up until recently, local environmental impacts – such as groundwater pollution and eutrophication – were considered to be the main environmental problems resulting from chemical fertilisation. In the past 10 to 15 years, the carbon footprint of fertilisers and their contribution to climate change has also become an issue. For example, the capture of a tonne of nitrogen from the air and its conversion into a fertiliser requires at least one tonne (some scientists suggest 1.5 tonne) of diesel or an equivalent amount of other fuels of similar energy potential. If the energy required for transporting and applying the fertiliser is also included, then the overall carbon footprint is increased considerably. Millions of tonnes of nitrogen fertiliser are used every year worldwide. For example, the million olive trees located in the region of Ilia consume more than 600 tonnes of nitrogen fertiliser. A methodology with a reduced carbon footprint is therefore required for providing nitrogen to plants. The same is true for phosphorus and potassium, since the carbon footprint of these fertilisers is also very high – estimated to be 25% larger than that of nitrogen. Objectives The CONDENSE project will demonstrate a manure and olive mill wastewater (OMW) management system, which transforms them into a nutrient-rich end product that can be safely used in agriculture and horticulture, instead of inorganic chemical fertilisation. This method will condense the nutrients found in these two wastes on a scale and in a way that will result in a new product with a high concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, mostly in an inorganic form, but originating solely from organic wastes. Technical, logistical, financial, environmental and operational issues must be solved prior to a full-scale operation. Carefully designed and coordinated activities will aim to increase acceptance and expansion of the CONDENSE management system. Expected results: A tested, evaluated and fine tuned management system that will allow for the use of manure and OMW to produce a new, easy-to-use product, with a high concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, with very good availability (inorganic form), and that is safe and beneficial for agricultural and horticultural applications. The test system will be able to manage – at demonstration scale – about 100 to 200 tonnes of manure and 500 to 1 000 m3 of OMW annually; A complete pilot plan that will allow for the testing, evaluation and fine tuning of the management system, with a capacity to produce between 5 and 10 tonnes of the new product annually; A detailed agricultural and horticultural evaluation of the new product, both in relation to the various crops grown in southern and northern Europe, but also in terms of its compatibility with existing fertiliser application methods and tools, and moreover, compatibility with farmers practices. It will include more than 10 different crops (vegetables, strawberries, potatoes, corn, olive tree etc), in more than 50 controlled and uncontrolled trials in two different areas in Greece and one in the UK; A Life Cycle Analysis, a cost-benefit analysis and a technical-economical evaluation; A series of manuals, incorporating all the knowledge and experience of the CONDENSE project that will allow for a rapid expansion of the process. All manuals will be freely available to the public.
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