LIFE Farm4More teams in Ireland (UCD, BRID & BMRS) and Austria (TBWR, AREC & BiocharNergy) have been working hard to bring this agricultural climate change mitigation project forward since it was launch in 2019.
One of the main technologies of this project is the biochar pilot plant, which is being operated in Austria by BiocharNergy GmbH. The biochar feed product has been mixed into chicken feed pellets by Clement Futter (an Austrian animal-feed manufacturer) and is being tested by the Austrian team in the Agricultural Research and Educational Centre Raumberg-Gumpenstein (AREC) in relation to its ability to reduce GHG emissions (Figure 1). We are looking forward to seeing the results of the experiment next year.
Figure 1: Broiler chicken trial ongoing in AREC
Currently underway at AREC with the inputs of the partners TBWR and BRID is the preparation of grass silage feedstocks (Fig. 2). The preparation process consists of pressing mechanically and subsequently re-ensile and store the grass silage press cakes. The final product will be used for another feeding trial that will take place in AREC soon in November 2021. A successful grass silage press cake may replace conventional silage in the diet of organic dairy cows.
Figure 2: Organic grass silage that will be processed by the Green biorefinery to produce organic grass silage press cakes for the press cake feeding trials which are to be conducted at AREC.
The second cut of the sustainably produced grass silage, fertilised with farm yard manure compost and a liquid nitrogen feed, will be harvested at UCD Lyons Agricultural Farm the first week of October (Fig.3). Ready to be shipped to Austria where it will be mechanically pressed, re-ensiled and returned to Ireland for an additional dairy cattle press-cake feeding trial next year.
Figure 3: Production of sustainable grass silage
Some bales will remain at UCD Lyons farm to run a pilot-scale pressing trial (Fig. 4). This trial will investigate the effect that variations in the grass silage fermentation stage and pressing routines, will have on optimising the full-scale green biorefinery that will be deployed by partner BRID in Austria.
Figure 4: Sampling grass silage bales and NIR dry matter scanning for pilot-scale pressing
Beyond research activities, the partners are busy promoting the project and engaging relevant stakeholders. On September 17th, the International Grassland and Livestock Information Day was organised by AREC (Austrian Research and Education Center Raumberg-Gumpenstein). Amongst the numerous participants, also the federal minister Mrs Elisabeth Köstinger attended the event. Dr Andreas Steinwidder and Manuel Winter (AREC) (Fig. 5), together with Michael Mandl (TBW research) and Ernst Holler (BiocharNergy) showcased the preliminary results of LIFE Farm4more project.
Figure 5: From left to right Dr Andreas Steinwidder, federal minister Mrs Elisabeth Köstinger, Manuel Winter. During the International Grassland and Livestock Information Day at AREC.
On the 20th of September Dr Joseph Sweeney (UCD) participated in the green biorefinery training week organised by AgRefine at the Technical University of Vienna (Fig. 6). It was the first time that partner organizations were able to meet in person. As part of the training, he was invited to talk about monitoring and control systems for AD and biorefinery systems. During this special occasion, the novel green biorefinery automated biosensor prototype was discussed with the participants of the training. The biosensor will provide the ability to assess key performance indicator catabolites, in real-time, maximising the profit and thus climate mitigating impact of farm4more’s green biorefinery.
Figure 6: Dr Joseph Sweeney (UCD) participated in the green biorefinery training week organised by AgRefine