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Recycling and upgrading of bone meal for environmentally friendly crop protection and nutrition

Final Report Summary - PROTECTOR (Recycling and upgrading of bone meal for environmentally friendly crop protection and nutrition)

The overall goal of the PROTECTOR project was to develop, optimise and industrial scale up realise in advanced engineering terms the integrated thermal inactivation and recycling and upgrading of bone meal for environmentally friendly crop protection and nutrition-biotechnological recycling of high phosphorus containing non-specified risk material (non-SRM) organic waste (bone meal) and upgrade it into a high added value and safe biotechnological crop protection and nutrition product for environmentally friendly vegetable cultivation in soil and soilless cultivations, all in order to develop microbiologically adapted soil fertiliser crop nutrient product with biocontrol by-effect as of EU Regulation 91/414 EEC and USEPA guidelines, including considerations for project test methodical coherence to authority product application permit test methodics.

This intellectual property rights (IPR) protected solution aims to develop microbiologically adapted soil fertiliser crop nutrient product with biocontrol by-effect as of EU Regulation 91/414 EEC and USEPA guidelines, including the use of agricultural product application authority permit field test methods for development and test of the innovative PROTECTOR method and product.

The technology-based integrated recycling and upgrading strategy contains the following measurable scientific and technical objectives and relates the achievements of project to the state of the art:

development of a strategy for thermal recycling of the phosphorus rich bone meal into safe and sterile animal bone charcoal, which is suitable for specific microbiological carriers. (Important input: the advanced high temperature carbonisation process of the bone meal has been available by TERRA by the start up of the project, all in order to manufacture different qualities of solid carriers). Of the 47 million tonnes of animals slaughtered for meat production in Europe every year, 17 million tonnes, minus hides, skins and bones for gelatine production, are handled by the animal by-products industry. About 14- 15 million tonnes are processed by renderers and fat melters.

As society becomes more affluent and eating habits change the proportion of an animal eaten directly is less than ever before. The amount of by-product available for processing is, therefore, increasing. Almost all animal by-products can potentially be used to produce a useful commodity. However, to find economic markets for all by-products will depend on the scale of the operation, the cultural characteristics of the region and the distance to suitable markets. The FAO have forecast that global meat consumption will grow by 2 % per year, until the end of 2015. In 2000, EURA reported that the animal by-products industry manufactures products with an annual value of greater than EUR 2.2 billion and that this represents a very significant source of income for the European agriculture industry.

To keep costs to a minimum, most have sought to place contracts with the larger rendering companies offering economies of scale. Due to fierce competition, many rendering companies went bankrupt or were bought out by the larger companies. Costs have increased for the treatment and disposal of animal by-products and this has been passed along the meat supply chain to the customer.

The production and use of animal bone charcoal for biotechnological solid carrier is a highly innovative carbonisation method and product. The 3R plant is the only known technology system, where solid carrier thermal treatment and biotechnological systems are built together. As ABC carrier development and SSF technology innovative developments running parallel, coherent interlink has been structured between the two tasks. Therefore, the production of such innovative solid carrier or carriers requires special care and considerations, in depth scientific and technical understanding and tests.

The measurable objectives of the innovative SSFF technology and test equipment installation would be to achieve the suitable selection of a prime microbial strain and the test production of 1 500 kg SSFF formulated PROTECTOR:
- assessment and mathematical descriptions of the PROTECTOR phosphorus dissolution kinetics and the impacts of PROTECTOR on P and organic matter cycles in soil;
- detailed risk assessment of all components of the recycling process and the final product - from the bone meal through the applied microorganisms, in order to establish conclusively that there is no risk to the environment and human health;
- demonstration of the PROTECTOR effectiveness in greenhouse tests using tomato as the test plant against two economically important plant pathogens;
- justification of the PROTECTOR socio-economic and technical viability by execution of CBA, SWOT and socio-economic assessment of PROTECTOR impacts, including the evaluation of its acceptance by consumers and retailers;
- development of a clear product- and technology-oriented dissemination and marketing strategy, and a plan for increasing the PROTECTOR - technology based innovation (TBI), rapid take-up, post-project utilisation, industrial scale-up and commercialisation.

The results of the PROTECTOR project will improve the traditional European strength of food production and farming systems, where the continued competitiveness will be ensured by sufficiently large PROTECTOR end product price cuts that will guarantee the growth of sustainable low input farming and competitive agriculture sectors without being subsidised. In this context PROTECTOR provides methods and products which are sound and environmentally friendly, able to supply quality products of the kind the public wants, and supports diverse forms of agriculture, which are not just output but rather recycling, reuse and reduce oriented, while applying prevention, protection and preservation concepts as well.

From a macro-economic point of view, investment in the agriculture sector can be crucially important:
- the high proportion of population engaged in agriculture, as farmers in their own right, as labourers, or as entrepreneurs or employees in input supply, processing or marketing;
- the high contribution of agriculture to the national economy, with high employment and income multipliers, making it a foundation for general economic development in many countries;
- the trade in agricultural products, whether domestic or international, in some countries constitutes a high proportion of overall trade.

Impact of PROTECTOR project on research sector:
1) all partners have generated individual excellence in the relevant specific scientific areas.
2) the developed PROTECTOR technology for transformation of food chain waste into a high added value healthy and safe product ('turning trash into cash') is technically, environmentally and economically very effective. At a lower overall waste management cost, a higher value is achieved; i.e. a profitable operation that is less costly than any other known comparable solutions.
3) the united scientific excellence from 7 countries and known biotechnological achievements has been generated in the project.
4) the 'cross-fertilisation' links between universities and the industrial sector has been strengthened and trans-European cooperation networking has been implemented.
5) the consortium has been translated a scientific knowledge into new products with measurable and justified benefits for the consumers and society as a whole.
6) the results of the PROTECTOR will contribute to the creation of new skilled jobs, especially in the SME sector in rural areas and for women, thus contributing to a more equitable society.
7) We attract and train researchers and new resources for the subject.
8)the results of the PROTECTOR project can support the EU policy development for improved recycling of organic waste from the food industry, crop protection and food safety.
9) the consortium has been provided a balanced and responsible legal and regulatory framework for all partners from research and technological development (RTD) to consumers in the programme.
10) an efficient technology transfer and wide dissemination plan has been implemented in the European dimension.

The output PROTECTOR end product provides combined effect, and is used in the organic and low input farming agriculture with special aim to the vegetable and medical herb plant cultivation:
- biological control effect against soil borne plant pathogens, for substitution or significantly lowering the input of agro chemicals;
-plant growth promotion, for natural substance support to get higher plant yields with better quality and safer products;
- natural fertilisation: food crop mineral deficiency and disturbance stress mitigation in temperate climate regions by restoration of soil natural balance, substitution of highly energy intensive artificial fertilisers;
- mitigation of mineral and nutrient deficiency stress of the food crops, natural balance and functionality restoration of degraded continental agro soils in temperate climatic regions, with controlled microbiological activity and precision farming nutrient supply for sustainable, improved, economical and ecological food crop production;
- it is consistent with principles of organic production;
- prevention of nutrient loss: ABC helps to reduce nutrient run-off from soils and the associated problems of eutrophication;
- supporting beneficial soil life forms towards balanced living soil. Improving soil fertility and stimulating the roles of plants and microbes in natural soil processes;
- it has positive impact on soil organisms and/or the physical characteristics of the soil;
- encourages soil organisms and mycorrhiza fungi, which can produce many compounds that help plants, including substances such as citrate and lactate that combine with soil minerals and make them more available to plant roots.