An innovative approach
The main goals

Project Life Optimal 2012

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.

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.
  • 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 future

Expected results

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

Specific aims of the project:

  • Faultless functioning of the plant due to the demonstrative activities of the project.
  • 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.
How we achieve our goals

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.

The results

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.

These products can be used for fertilization in the orchards and vineyards of South Tyrol.

The overview

General framework of the project Life Optimal 2012

At the partners’ farmsteads, some 25,000 tons of manure and 45,000 tons of slurry are collected with specific machinery for their transportation.

The solid part of the digestate is dehydrated using waste heat produced by the cogeneration group and subsequently turned into pellets to become fertiliser. The concentrates obtained from reverse osmosis can be used as such for fertilising crops or they can be added to pellets.

The purified water is discharged into the Eisack River.

The technology behind our products

This is how the Biogas Wipptal plant works

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Project Actions

  • fine-tuning and operational management of the system both during and after the time frame allocated to the LIFE-OPTIMAL2012 project;
  • creation of a “Global assessment plant for the system” both in terms of the environmental aspects and the social and economic ones, with the contribution of research from the two universities associated with the project (Turin and Bolzano-Bozen), and studies of the effects of using the prototype spreader and the use of fertilisers, made using specific balances for mass (especially for the nitrogen parameter), gas and energy; the evaluation of fertilisers is audited via study campaigns with growth tests in pots and in the field during significant periods of the agricultural season;
  • presentation of the system made, training of farming partners in the use of the fertilisers produced, and circulation of the results via guided visits, publication of articles and brochures, participation at trade fairs and conferences, creation of a website dedicated to the completed system, as well as collaboration and networking activities with other LIFE projects.
The project


3) Gas, mass, and energy balances for the digestate treatment system. This activity, completed by the University of Turin, demonstrated the effectiveness of the digestate treatment system in terms of  the efficiency of mass separation and the physical and chemical parameters. Overall consumption of thermal and electric energy (direct and indirect) identified and expressed as primary energy, are equivalent to 28.6*10-3 Tep/t of treated digestate and  55.7*10-4 Tep/kg of N contained in the pellet.

4) Production of solid pellet fertiliser called biwi Bio-Pellets, registration of same under no. 0021548/18 of the “National Fertilisers Register” and development of marketing products for retail to private customers, farming consortia, and various distribution chains. Based on types of national fertiliser as per Lgs. Decree no.75/2010, biwi Bio-Pellets is classified as an NP organic fertiliser (Annex and is recommended for growing fruit, vegetables, and flowers;

5) Growing tests in pots (corn, cucumber, permanent pasture, strawberries) and in the field (vines) by the University of Bolzano-Bozen, show a positive effect (increase in surface biomass) above all for corn and cucumber;

6) printing and circulation of the “biwi Bio-Pellets user’s manual”, containing instructions for dosage based on the type of crop, degree of organic substance in the soil, and the period of application;

7) control sampling for the quality of the purified water discharged into the surface water flowing near to the Biogas Wipptal plant, i.e., into the Eisack River, with continued monitoring of the unloaded capacity, the pH, conductivity, and ammoniacal nitrogen, as well as the implementation of the whole automatic system for management of livestock waste, from when it enters the plant by electronic weighing, to its return to the field with new weighing and control of spreading.

8) Overall assessment of the digestate treatment system

The results

What we achieved

From examinations made by the  School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (DISAFA) of the University of Turin, it has been found that implementation of the technological solutions proposed has made it possible to:

What happened after

After LIFE Plan

The 2012 LIFE OPTIMAL project was completed in 2021. Nevertheless, we feel obligated to continue participating in the monitoring and communication activities and are very active in responsibly representing the E.U.’s LIFE Program.

The goals of the project funded by the E.U. in the framework of the LIFE+ Program were as follows:

  • Introduction of an environmentally compatible system for the treatment of livestock waste and liquid manure from an anaerobic fermentation plant
  • Reduction of the nitrogen and nitrate pollution per hectare of agricultural land
  • Reduction of greenhouse emissions through the substitution of organic/mineral fertilizers for industrial fertilizers
  • Reduction of ammonia emissions
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