Farming 2.0: nothing is thrown away and dung becomes an economic resource.
Breeding animals is a vital resource for a huge proportion of the global population. It has a major impact on food quality, agriculture and industrial activity in the richest countries, but animal husbandry is also estimated to be a key economic factor for about a billion of the world’s poor.
On the downside, however, numerous studies emphasise the risk of environmental impact this activity poses. This is because the production of milk and meat affects the consumption of raw resources of the planet and on the production of greenhouse gases.
However, researchers also aim to identify strategies that could limit the negative aspects and, wherever possible, even turn them into opportunities for development.
Given the rising trend in world population, it is estimated that by 2050 there could be ten billion people on Earth. With increased wealth and disposable income spread wider, the result will be an increase in the consumption of meat and animal products, which some analysts predict could grow by up to 70%.
“Nothing grows from diamonds, but manure makes flowers bloom” sang Italian folksinger Fabrizio De André in the timeless classic “Via Del Campo” (“Field Street”). We should follow his suggestion and take up the challenge of reimaging this important resource and exploiting all the opportunities it offers.
Manure and waste, especially in industrial production systems, can be used not only as fertilizers, but also as a valuable energy source that is completely organic. The manure from livestock can be used to produce high-quality bio-products, as well as environmentally-friendly fuel: biomethane.
This ecological biogas obtained from the organic waste is chemically very similar to natural gas and has a variety of uses: everything from the fuel for cars, energy for industry and domestic use as well.
While Austria, Switzerland and Sweden have long used biogas as a fuel for automobiles, it is only recently that Italy biomethane has been fully recognised by means of a ministerial decree that encourages its production (subject to use).