Sustainable up-cycling of agro-, agrofood and fisheries residues in horticulture and agriculture as bioenergy, biochar and chitin-rich products
Priority AxisResource Efficient Economy
Lead partnerInstitute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research
Project budget3 353 733 €
ERDF amount1 852 621 €
- Use of agricultural and fisheries waste streams (shared natural resources in the 2 seas area) as environmentally friendly and circular economy resources for sustainable growing media (peat, coir or stonewool replacement), and chemical fertilizer and pesticide replacement. Creating innovative business climate by novel cultivation methods and novel products that satisfy demanding environmental and health criteria set by customers, which include CO2 reduction for global warming reduction and lower nutrient losses, lower pesticide residues and no human pathogens on fruits and vegetables.
- Stimulation of technological development and innovation, by demonstrating gasification as a novel bio-energy and biochar production technology
- The project aims to boost innovation dynamism, in particular relative to maritime and horticultural activities, by adopting resource-efficiency solutions
Increase the adoption of new circular economy solutions in the 2 Seas area by sustainable up-cycling of agro-, agrofood and fisheries residues in horticulture. Up-cycling and combining resources for sustainable soilless greenhouse cultivation into one concept based on sustainable growing media, greenhouse heating and CO2 fertigation. Reinforce the institutional framework conditions and the capacity of stakeholders to adopt these innovations. Combine all knowledge of separate materials as feedstock and low temperature gasification as processing technique into sustainable products and application techniques ready for commercialization for use in greenhouses with a low-C heating and fertilization technology. Optimize the use of chitin and biochar as innovative amendments for closing loops at regional level. Provide decision models for 4 valorization chains and increase the adoption of these new solutions through targeted implementation, dissemination and valorization.
- Demo on pilot gasifier installation and biochar production at a relevant scale level for growers
- Demo on chitin/biochar amendment in growing media
- Demo on sustainable growing media made from local resources
- Decision tool on conservation, pretreatment, and processing options for 1 gaseous and 4 solid waste streams (CO2, shellfish waste, spent growing media, and woody fraction of green waste, Fig. 5)
- Economic feasibility study for 4 valorisation chains (Fig. 2), one integrated business model and cost model for processing the 5 waste streams
- Functional online collaborative platform for new circular economy solutions (CO2 fertilizer, medium for plant rooting, heat, biochar, chitin)
- Action plan for sustainable up-cycling of agro-, agrofood and fisheries residues in horticulture
- Innovative visual communication tools for project dissemination to a non-expert audience to realise impact and increase adoption of new technologies and solutions
Cross border approach
Several harbors in the region have important shellfish activities and have a common waste problem as ocean dumping is banned. The region has intensive greenhouse horticulture where soilless cultivation is used because of disease pressure in the soils. Several local alternatives to rockwool, coir and peat have been tested on a pilot scale but expertise exchange is needed to scale-up these innovative alternatives and introduce them into soilless cultivation. The region has specific feedstocks for renewable growth media, with potential for interregional exchange. Horti-BlueC combines the separate building blocks for sustainable soilless cultivation developed in previous projects (Fig. 4) in the involved regions to guarantee crop quality for consumers, comply with environmental legislation, reduce production costs and optimize the cultivation system. The partners have developed region-specific expertise on the use of chitin and biochar in sustainable growing media based on local materials.
We aim at solving bottlenecks and adopt solutions for sustainable growing media and for upcycling waste streams in horticulture. Horti-BlueC proposes to substitute non-renewable feedstock materials such as peat or stone wool with locally-produced, renewable feedstock materials. The materials that are currently used in growing media are not sustainable. The production of mineral wool is energy-demanding, while peat extraction from pristine peatlands threatens these sensitive ecosystems and carbon sinks. The project is quite ambitious, as we aim at adoption of a new greenhouse concept with 30% reduction of fossil fuel, 30% reduction in chemical pesticide application, 30% peat and stone wool replacement, and replacement of 20% virgin CO2.
Horti-BlueC has explored the potential for upcycling 5 local waste streams: CO2 emitted by greenhouse heating, shellfish waste streams (feedstock for chitin), spent growing media (feedstock for biochar), green waste (feedstock for biochar) and plant fibers to contribute to sustainable soilless horticulture. Shellfish waste (e.g., shrimp shells) provide chitin, which can be used as an additive in growing media. Biochar (charred material) is rich in carbon, and has the potential to help mitigate climate change via C sequestration. Batches of biochar have been produced, based on plant fibers, spent growing media and the woody fraction of green waste. CO2 from flue gases was captured at a pilot installation, and can used for CO2 fertilization in greenhouses.
The processing of residual materials into building blocks for growing media is supported by a decision tool, and innovative blends are now tested for the second year in greenhouse trials in three regions. Both chitin and biochar have the potential to increase the fertility of growing media, increase horticultural productivity, and increase the resistance of plants against specific foliar and soil-borne diseases. These trials were the subject of virtual and real-life visits. Several videos on the outputs related to the processing of the materials and the greenhouse trials are online.
By optimizing waste pretreatment and processing techniques, the goal of the project is to prove the feasibility of 4 valorization chains for producing innovative materials for soilless cultivation. This will save resources (less fossil fuel use, less chemical crop protection and fertilizer application, among others) and will drastically reduce CO2 emissions from greenhouse horticulture.