In this issue you can read about: our general assembly, workshops held in Eastern Africa, potential uses of whey in agriculture, nitrogen doses vs. yields in maize , our contributions to an upcoming conference and some hints on how to change behaviours to reduce food waste!
General Assembly 2021

On September 8th and 9th all Circular Agronomics partners sat in front of a computer for the third annual General Assembly. In front of us two busy days to meet, provide project updates, review the past year and plan upcoming tasks and activities.

The agenda for the first morning included administrative reminders, pitch presentations with project results, a session on life cycle assesment and another one on policy where the partners were asked to vote for policy measures that the policy team will continue working on. In the afternoon we learned about the work done by the six case studies over the last year.

The second day had six one hour sessions each focusing on a specific Work Package. Fruitful discussions were held and overall there was a feeling that good work was being done and deliverables and milestones completed now that we’re more than half-way through the project lifetime. The GA ended with some comments from our expert advisory board.

The final year of the project is now here and all partners are committed to completing the remaining tasks and ensuring that Circular Agronomics has a positive and long-lasting impact on improving nutrient (and carbon!) management in the EU!

Workshops in Eastern Africa

Our partners from the Eastern Africa Farmers’ Federation (EAFF) have been very busy these past months. In the framework of Circular Agronomics they organised three farmer workshops with local farmers to evaluate a set of issues related to agronomic, social economic and environmental aspects of food production. Discussion topics included the social and economic pressure they face from food exports, the issue of low yields in comparison to EU farmers linked with the issues of water availability, lack of carbon and micronutrients in soil and farmers acceptance towards mineral fertilizers etc.

These workshops contributed towards increasing the understanding of the sustainability of farming systems and technology, particularly in the context of future demand for food and other agricultural products and look at the roles for governments and markets in stimulating adoption of appropriate technologies that can improve sustainability at the farm level.

The results of the discussions were also used to feed into the African farmer’s position document presented to the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

The results of the workshop will be soon available as a project deliverable on our website.

Waste not!

The concept of reducing waste had been around for some time with phrases like ‘wilful waste makes woeful want’ used in our lexicon as far back as 1576.  Nearly 500 years on, this phrase still has significant resonance today.  We currently live in a society whereby we waste approximately one third of all our food that comes into our homes.  We may be left wanting for this food in the future when we will need to feed an additional two billion people on the same resources we currently have.  Therefore it is very important that we recognise the value of this commodity and decrease our tendency to waste it.  As part of the circular agronomics project, a pilot study conducted on Irish adults was undertaken to examine important factors relating to food waste behaviour.  Preliminary analysis has shown that subjective norms were the biggest predictor of intention to reduce food waste in the household.  Hence, if our important peer group support and promote the behaviour to reduce food waste, then we too are more likely to behave in the same manner.  Reducing food waste is an important action within the EUs farm to fork strategy.  Therefore these insights can assist us in developing evidence-based and effective policies to reduce food waste.
This work is conducted by our partners at TEAGASC (Sinéad McCarthy, Dmytro Serebrennikov, Fiona Thorne) and CREDA (Zein Kallas, Selene Ivette Ornelas Herrera)
From Brandenbourg to South Moravia and back!
On Monday the 18ths of October, the team from the field station in Berge traveled a 670 km journey (one way) with their special plot harvester on a low loader to the field experiment in South Moravia. After having managed the havest of the two field experiments on Tuesday, they returned the day after. Now plant samples that were taken need to be analysed. A first view on the data showed that the highest nitrogen dosages did not reach the higherst yields. So obviously, there is room to cut the amounts applied.

Circular Agronomics at the ManuResource conference this November
Circular Agronomics will be present at the upcoming ManuResource Conference, to be held physically in Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands on November 24th-25th.

Our partners from FCSR in Italy will present a contribution focusing on the results from the Microfiltered Digestate to Fertigation (MDF) integrated system, installed as a pilot plant at CAT Correggio cooperative, in the Emilia-Romagna region (Italy).

Both microfiltration and subsurface drip irrigation trials were conducted using digestate, with rather encouraging results. In fact, the innovative microfilter excludes particles with a diameter greater than 50 microns (equivalent to three white blood cells), thus avoid clogging of the underground drip lines.

There will also be a contribution from our Spanish partner IRTA on the impact of precision feeding on NH3 and GHG emissions in dairy farms during the manure storage phase, and also showing the impact of natural crusts on non-mixed slurry tanks.

Looking forward to meeting you there!

News form the Czech Republic
Our colleagues ASIO TECH in the Czech Republic deal with the valorization of waste and its subsequent further practical use. They are focusing on acid whey, which is a waste product from the food industry, and so far has relatively limited further practical use. One of the ways of valorizing it is to apply it to agricultural fields, where it can contribute to increasing soil organic carbon levels in soils while at the same time providing nutrients for plant growth.

Within Circular Agronomics, ASIO have carried out both field trials with maize or winter wheat and flower pot trials. Flower pot tests are carried out with lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and cabbage. The aim of these tests is to check how different whey doses benefit crop growth and to find the limiting dose that would inhibit their growth. For the tests we used acid whey with a dry matter of 18% with the following composition of the main nutrients ( TC = 7%, TN = 2270 mg/l, TP = 1870 mg/l, TK = 1620 mg/l and N-NH4 = 120 mg/l) and a whey dose of 0 - 3 g TN/pot. The pot has a total soil volume of 6 l and is regularly watered both manually and according to the weather radar, the rainfalls falling into it are monitored to achieve ideal watering. Tests were carried out in a total of 11 flower pots, where one served as a reference and for the remaining ten the dose of acid whey was increased from 0 to 3000 mg TN/flower pot in 300 mg/l increments.
The test lasted a total of ten weeks during which harvested lettuce biomass showed an positive linear trend to increasing acid whey rate while cabbage tests are underway. These are promising results for the valorisation of a current waste stream.

Circular Agronomics is working to investigate and test a wide range of measures to improve carbon and nutrient use in the EU.

For more, see our web news or follow us on Twitter at @CircularAgro.

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