Project: Animal manure as fertilizer for crop fields

Description: Intensive livestock production might have a negative environmental impact, by producing large amounts of animal dejections, which, if not properly managed, can contaminate nearby water bodies with nutrient excess. However, if the animal manure could be transferred to nearby crop farms, to be used as a fertilizer for the crops, then the problem of pollution/contamination would be mitigated, transforming manure from a waste to a resource. This valorization of manure from waste to a resource falls within the principles of circular economy, but the transportation of manure also comes at an environmental and economic cost. It is a single-objective optimization problem, in regards to finding the best solution for the logistics process of satisfying nutrient crops needs by means of livestock manure. This project investigates a centralized optimal algorithm to solve the problem, based on a realistic simulator that considers numerous real-world constraints, which have not been addressed by related work. The case study has been performed in Catalonia, Spain, in agreement with the Department of Agriculture, Government of Catalonia. In the latest publication of this project, policy recommendations are given, while a comparison is perfomed between similar efforts in Hangzhou, China and Minnesota, USA. The findings show that the use of treatment units in pig farms is not profitable (for the purpose of manure use as fertilizer), while applying treatment units on selected cow farms for composting manure has its merits, under an intelligent choice of cow farms. An ant-inspired technique has also been used to solve the problem, based on how ants use pheromones to inform other ants about food sources.

Collaboration with: Francesc Prenafeta (IRTA Barcelona, Spain)

Techniques used: Geospatial analysis, GIS, Internet of Things, big data analysis, modelling, simulations.

Started: September, 2016

Status: Finished

Andreas Kamilaris and Francesc X.Prenafeta-Boldú, Examining the perspectives of using manure from livestock farms as fertilizer to crop fields based on a realistic simulation, In Computers and Electronics in Agriculture journal, vol. 191, no. 106486, December 2021.

Andreas Kamilaris,  Andries Engelbrecht, Andreas Pitsillides and Francesc X. Prenafeta-Boldu, Transfer of Manure as Fertilizer from Livestock Farms to Crop Fields: The Case of Catalonia, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture Journal, vol. 175, no. 105550, August 2020.

Andreas Kamilaris, Immaculada Funes Mesa, Robert Savé, Felicidad De Herralde and Francesc X. Prenafeta-Boldú, Can animal manure be used to increase soil organic carbon stocks in the Mediterranean as a mitigation climate change strategy?, In Proc. of EnviroInfo, Nicosia, Cyprus, September 2020.

Andreas Kamilaris, Andries Engelbrecht, Andreas Pitsillides and Francesc X. Prenafeta-Boldu, Transfer of Manure from Livestock Farms to Crop Fields as Fertilizer using an Ant Inspired Approach, XXIVth International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Congress, June 2020.