LIFE Project Cover Photo

LIFE DOP - Demonstrative mOdel of circular economy Process in a high quality dairy industry

Reference: LIFE15 ENV/IT/000585 | Acronym: LIFE DOP



The dairy sector in Lombardy contributes more than 37% to Italian milk production. In the Po Valley region, nearly 97% of the total ammonia emissions come from the agricultural sector, the bovine dairies contributing some 32% of this share. As a result, around 30% of the PM10 emissions in Lombardy are related to ammonia from the agricultural sector. In addition, about 100 000 tonnes/year of nitrogen-based fertilisers are used, producing a total emission of CO2 eq. of about 350 000 tonnes/year.


Life DOP aims to promote the transition to a circular economy along the whole value chain of the dairy sector. The project will evaluate and demonstrate a new model, and apply it to the production of Grana Padano DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta/Protected Designation of Origin) and Parmigiano Reggiano DOP. The project will integrate all the phases along production chains (from livestock rearing to production), in order to re-use all of the waste products/materials generated. This not only promotes a circular economy and greater resource efficiency, but also reduces PM10, ammonia, NOx and CO2 emissions. In turn, the re-use of slurry as fertiliser will decrease ammonia emissions and increase soil organic content, thus contributing to the Soil Thematic Strategy.

Specific objectives include:

  • Combining good practices to implement a circular economy model for dairy production chains, to comply with the Nitrates Directive through the recovery of livestock slurry for biogas production, application of manure on soils for more sustainable nutrient management, rearing livestock according to sustainability criteria, and defining the composition of feed rations to reduce ammonia emissions;
  • Establishing a sustainable production territorial model (VIRGIL: VIRtous or Green and Sustainable Dairy Production);
  • Defining an LCA model to help guide the entire value chain towards a more sustainable approach, and to define its Product Environmental Footprint (PEF);
  • Developing a circular economy model, based on the Grana Padano value chain, that is replicable in other European countries;
  • Promoting resource efficiency along the entire value chain by introducing interlinked processes of waste re-use and greenhouse gas emissions reduction;
  • Implementing measures to safeguard and improve soil quality; and
  • Developing a monitoring and evaluation model for innovative techniques for the pre-treatment of slurry/manure and its use in biogas plants.
  • Expected results:

  • At least 75 000 tonnes/year of manure (liquid/solid) delivered to end users (biogas plants, farms outside the chain);
  • At least another 10 anaerobic digestion plants in the area and at least 50 buyers of organic fertilisers in manure market trading operations engaged in the project;
  • 20-30 local companies with a volume of treated and transported liquid manure of 150 m3 a day involved;
  • Substitution of 70% of corn used in 2 biogas plants with about 150 tonnes/day of pre-treated animal slurry in biogas plants, allowing a 20% reduction in the impact on climate change category;
  • Increased methane potential of pre-treated manure compared to standard manure, moving from a productivity of 45-50 Nm3/tonne to 60-65 Nm3/tonne;
  • Sharp decrease in the addition of mineral fertilisers in agronomic trials;
  • Decrease in total nitrogen load introduced into the system by 40% (from 450 kg to 280 kg);
  • Reduction in nitrates in underground waters by 20%;
  • Reduction of ammonia emissions by 40-60%;
  • Reduction of nitrogen load from livestock and/or 30% increase in the number of heads;
  • Reduction of methane emissions by 40% due to the new manure management approach;
  • Development of an operational plan that engages at least six farms to decrease by 10% the average impact of the dairies; and
  • Involvement of at least 200 technical experts and 150 college students to increase knowledge and awareness on the ecological impact of livestock slurry/manure on the environment, and the innovative technical solutions to mitigate it.


    Reference: LIFE15 ENV/IT/000585
    Acronym: LIFE DOP
    Start Date: 01/09/2016
    End Date: 01/03/2021
    Total Budget: 3,691,795 €
    EU Contribution: 2,083,547 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Consorzio Latterie Virgilio
    Legal Status: PCO
    Address: Viale della Favorita 19, 46100, Mantova, Italia
    Contact Person: Giuliana D'IMPORZANO

    LIFE Project Map



    • Agriculture - Forestry
    • Soil and landscape protection


    • Agriculture
    • soil degradation
    • waste use
    • waste recycling
    • organic pollution
    • agricultural waste


    • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
    • COM(2006)231 - ?Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection? (22.09.2006)
    • COM(2010)672 - The CAP towards 2020: Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future (18.11.2010)


    Name Type
    Consorzio Latterie Virgilio Coordinator
    Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy Participant
    Consorzio Agrario del Nord Est, Italy Participant
    Consorzio Export 3P, Italy Participant
    Associazione Mantovana Allevatori, Italy Participant
    Cooperativa San Lorenzo Soc. Agr. Coop., Italy Participant


    Type Resource
    Project web site Project's website
    Publication "Visita dimostrativa azienda agricola Palazzina. La gesione dei parametri riproduttivi e gli effetti su ingestione e produzione di latte grazie all'uso dell'insilato shredlage"
    Publication "Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses: preliminar results towards an environmental ecolabel with Life DOP project"
    Video link Il prototipo di cavitatore mobile: Azioni Life Dop -
    Video link "Life Dop: economia circolare nell'industria casearia d'eccellenza" (1') (
    Slides Presentation "Valori e cultura di progetto" (1.06 MB)
    Slides Presentation "Descrizione del progetto" (1.83 MB)
    Slides Presentation "LIFE DOP - Demonstrative mOdel of circular economy Process in high quality dairy industry" (823 KB)
    Slides Presentation "Il refluo vale un'esperienza concreta che guarda lontano" (1.25 MB)
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    Project web site - 2 Project's Twitter page