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Recycling Agricultural Wastes and By-products in Organic Farming: Biofertilizer Production, Yield Performance and Carbon Footprint Analysis

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Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria—Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment, Via Celso Ulpiani 5, 70125 Bari, Italy
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Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria—Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment, Via della Navicella 2-4, 00184 Roma (RM), Italy
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Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria—Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Via Salaria 1, 63030 Monsampolo del Tronto (AP), Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3824; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143824
Received: 27 May 2019 / Revised: 10 July 2019 / Accepted: 10 July 2019 / Published: 12 July 2019
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Abstract

The Circular Economy concept implies the re-design of existing production systems in agriculture, by promoting agricultural waste recycling. In an organic zucchini—lettuce rotation, two different agroecological tools were considered: biofertilizer and presence or absence of green manure (GM+ and GM−). In particular, we compared: (i) anaerobic digestate from cattle manure, co-composted with vegetable wastes, with the presence of GM (AD GM+); (ii) olive pomace compost, re-composted, with the presence of GM (OWC GM+); (iii) municipal waste compost with GM (MWC GM+); (iv) municipal waste compost without GM (MWC GM−). These materials were tested with a commercial organic fertilizer without GM (COF GM−) as a positive control. The objectives were: (i) assessing the environmental sustainability of biofertilizers through carbon footprint analysis by greenhouse gas—GHG—emissions; (ii) evaluating the agronomic performance on the vegetable rotation, by energy output assessment. The total carbon emissions of biofertilizers production was 63.9 and 67.0 kg of CO2 eq Mg−1 for AD and OWC, respectively. The co-composting and re-composting processes emitted 31.4 and 8.4 kg CO2 per Mg of compost, respectively. In AD the ventilation phase of composting accounted for 37.2% of total emissions. The total CO2 emission values for the two-crop cycles were the highest in COF GM− and the lowest in OWC GM+, due to different fertilizer sources. On the average of the treatments, the input that induced the highest CO2 emission was irrigation (37.9%). The energy output assessment for zucchini and lettuce highlighted similar performance for all the treatments. Our findings demonstrated the validity of the tested processes to recycle agro-industrial wastes, and the potential of agroecological practices (GM) to mitigate GHG emissions. View Full-Text
Keywords: anaerobic digestate; co-composting; olive pomace compost; municipal waste compost; circular economy; environmental sustainability; Mediterranean environment; climate change anaerobic digestate; co-composting; olive pomace compost; municipal waste compost; circular economy; environmental sustainability; Mediterranean environment; climate change
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Diacono, M.; Persiani, A.; Testani, E.; Montemurro, F.; Ciaccia, C. Recycling Agricultural Wastes and By-products in Organic Farming: Biofertilizer Production, Yield Performance and Carbon Footprint Analysis. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3824.

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