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Resources 2017, 6(4), 50; doi:10.3390/resources6040050

Improving the Sustainability of Farming Practices through the Use of a Symbiotic Approach for Anaerobic Digestion and Digestate Processing

1
Centre of Expertise Energy, Hanze University of Applied Science, Zernikeplein 17, 9747 AA Groningen, The Netherlands
2
Centre for Energy and Environmental Sciences, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 26 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Indicators for Environment Management)
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Abstract

The dairy sector in the Netherlands aims for a 30% increase in efficiency and 30% carbon dioxide emission reduction compared to the reference year of 1990, and a 20% share of renewable energy, all by the year 2020. Anaerobic Digestion (AD) can play a substantial role in achieving these aims. However, results from this study indicate that the AD system is not fully optimized in combination with farming practices regarding sustainability. Therefore, the Industrial Symbiosis concept, combined with energy and environmental system analysis, Life Cycle Analysis and modeling is used to optimize a farm-scale AD system on four indicators of sustainability (i.e., energy efficiency, carbon footprint, environmental impacts and costs). Implemented in a theoretical case, where a cooperation of farms share biomass feedstocks, a symbiotic AD system can significantly lower external energy consumption by 72 to 92%, carbon footprint by 71 to 91%, environmental impacts by 68 to 89%, and yearly expenditures by 56 to 66% compared to a reference cooperation. The largest reductions and economic gains can be achieved when a surplus of manure is available for upgrading into organic fertilizer to replace fossil fertilizers. Applying the aforementioned symbiotic concept to the Dutch farming sector can help to achieve the stated goals indicated by the Dutch agricultural sector for the year 2020. View Full-Text
Keywords: green gas; biogas; biomass; industrial symbolism; energy and environmental system analysis; MEFA; LCA green gas; biogas; biomass; industrial symbolism; energy and environmental system analysis; MEFA; LCA
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Pierie, F.; Dsouza, A.; van Someren, C.E.J.; Benders, R.M.J.; van Gemert, W.J.T.; Moll, H.C. Improving the Sustainability of Farming Practices through the Use of a Symbiotic Approach for Anaerobic Digestion and Digestate Processing. Resources 2017, 6, 50.

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