Europe has areas with high densities of pig farms, which generate large volumes of hard-to-manage manure. Spain and Germany, with 30.1 million pigs and 27.6 million pigs respectively, account for 40 % of EU pig production. Italy, with 8.5 million pigs, is in seventh place. In Spain, the regions of Catalonia and Aragon are the main producers, accounting for more than half of Spain’s pigs. In Italy, 60 % of the country’s pigs are found in Lombardy and Piedmont.
However, there is often a disconnection in terms of management of the manure produced in these regions and its potential use as fertiliser. Productive arable land is often far from pig-raising farms, creating handling difficulties and increasing costs related to the use of manure. The problem also arises in relation to cattle farms.
The LIFE AGRICLOSE project will test and demonstrate a set of measures with the potential to improve the links between pig farms and the slurry or digested manure they generate, and fruit and arable farms (high yielding irrigated fruit trees and field crops) in the same region. The project will involve farmers, consumers and certification bodies in testing the agronomic and sanitary viability of the measures.
The project will follow circular economy principles to ensure the productive reuse of nutrients from manure. Liquid from slurries and manure that has been put through an anaerobic digestion process will be added to irrigation water for fruit trees and cereals. Solid manure will be used as fertiliser in orchards. Through these approaches, combined with the use of precision agricultural techniques, soil and environmental quality should be improved. The project will also monitor any impact of the use of such fertilisers on the healthiness of final agricultural products, including in relation to the possible transmission of resistance to antibiotics. The project will work primarily with pig farms, but its outcomes, in principle, could also apply to cattle farms.