AGRICULTURE - THE ALPINE ZOOTECHNIC: WHICH CRITICALITIES?
The alpine regions host important companies operating in the milk – dairy sector. These companies are experiencing difficulties due to an important competition in respect of the “plain” competitors based primarily on logistic reasons. However, they must guarantee a high attention to the environmental impacts they cause with their zootechnical activities - due to the delicateness of the alpine regions’ environment – especially for those regarding the management of zootechnical waste.
The utilization of agronomical sewage and manure through the traditional method according to which the the manure is spread on the fields is not always workable. There is too much pollution in the valley, especially to the detriment of surface and ground water. There is also bad smell for locals and tourists. Finally, it is important to keep in mind the relevant greenhouse gasses and the other secondary polluting materials put into the atmosphere.
In addition to the important nitrates emissions into the water, the connected farms and agricultural activities are considered responsible for over 95% of the ammoniac emissions into the atmosphere, at the origin of the so-called secondary particle. Recent data from Arpa Lombardia indicate that the ammoniac contributes to the 6.9% of the particle formation (third important source, after 45% of heating and the 25% of traffic).
Due to the above reasons, the recent Law Decree n. 81/2018 (transposed from the UE directive 2016/2284 on the reduction of national emissions of specific materials polluting the atmosphere) requires the agriculture sector to reduce the emission into the atmosphere to an important degree / carry out an important reduction of the emissions into the atmosphere. (see Annex III part 2). Strict European criteria on the protection water with nitrates are added to the above environmental legislation.
Due to the duty to guarantee the achievement of environmental standards in the next years, farms and agricultural activities connected to the alpine zones are at risk, with potentially negative effects on occupations, on the improvement in living standards of the alpine population and on the possible consequent depopulation of the areas in which the compatible human activities constitute protection supervision.
A SOLUTION FOR AGRICULTURE - ALPINE ZOOTECHNY
To solve the above-mentioned critical issues, we want to present an already implemented and functioning model -that combines economic and environmental needs.
This is a true "Green-Economy" and "Circular Economy" initiative.
In fact it was co-financed as a LIFE + project and named as one of the leading projects of the Ministry of the Environment.
In the Upper Isarco Valley, the extreme north of South Tyrol, 63 farms have given led to the incorporation of Biogas Wipptal s.r.l. that developed a new, sustainable and successful development model. The value of the project, in this unique form throughout Europe, is valuable to an extent making the support of important partners including the Tramin winery, the University of Bolzano and the University of Turin viable. The project has also received several national and international awards.
The community of farmers and breeders has created a plant complex fed by zootechnical waste produced by local companies. The plant produces not only renewable electric energy (biogas), but also a natural fertilizer obtained from the digestate coming from the biogas plant.
Thanks to the initiative of Biogas Wipptal s.r.l. breeders are now able not only to respect the cd. environmental management best practices (in line with Decision (EU) 2018/813 on the management of livestock manure), but to create an additional source of income that is a useful support in a disadvantaged economy such as the mountainous one.
The environmental effects are extraordinary: managing the effluents in a plant like that of Biogas Wipptal s.r.l. instead of spreading them as they are on land, it avoiding serious negative consequences for groundwater, air pollution and last but not least, olfactory pollution.
From an economic point of view, such projects guarantee the maintenance of the standard of living of mountain farmers. First of all, they avoid the fact that farmers need to reduce the number of livestock in order to comply with the environmental regulations in force. Secondly, they allow farmers / breeders to have added income from the sale of biogas and fertilizers, or at least to save on them, no longer having to buy them on the market. Finally, they allow replacing the synthetic mineral fertilizer with a completely natural fertilizer.
The Biogas Wipptal project is transferable to many areas of the Alpine arc - and not only those of particular value for biodiversity and tourism (eg NATURA 2000 areas) - which present problems similar to that faced in the Isarco Valley. The solution of the Biogas Wipptal s.r.l. project it would also offer a concrete measure in the infringement procedure that the European Commission has initiated for non-compliance with the nitrate legislation.
And in fact, the Biogas Wipptal srl Project, due to its innovative content, was chosen by the Federal Republic of Germany as part of an important international research and development project, as the only Italian company in the sector to identify the best available techniques ( BAT) in the field of dairy cattle effluent management.