Teresa Jordà: ‘We need to progress together towards excellent fertilisation and sustainable models of circular bioeconomy’
The Government of Catalonia’s Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food, Teresa Jordà, accompanied by the Deputy Director-General for Agriculture, Neus Ferrete, and the Ministry’s Director of Territorial Services in Lleida, Ferran de Noguera, today presented the LIFE AGRICLOSE project in Lleida, coordinated by the Ministry and selected by the European Commission in the call for applications for LIFE 2017, starting this year.
The LIFE AGRICLOSE project, which will run for four years to 2022, with a total budget of 2,189,704 euros, is based in Catalonia, Lombardy and Piedmont. Its beneficiary members are the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the Institute of Food and Agriculture Research and Technology (IRTA), the Mas Badia Foundation, the Regional Agency for Services to Agriculture and Forestry (ERSAF), and the University of Turin (UNITO).
The minister expressed her satisfaction with this new European innovation and environmental improvement project, headed by the Ministry, which marks a step forward from the results of the LIFE+ Futur Agrari project, presented in April, leading to community funding exceptionally being awarded on two consecutive occasions. This ‘shows the great work we have done and, to a certain extent, is recognition of all the research conducted up to now and the people who have made it possible’ she stressed.
The project focuses on improving management of liquid fraction, solid fraction and digestates derived from the treatment of slurry (pig and cow). It will improve application, management and knowledge to ensure farmers use the products adequately and as frequently as chemical fertilisers. The main aim is to find a viable and sustainable solution for all crop and livestock farmers who use these treatment systems (liquid fraction separators and digesters) and their resulting products.
In this respect, Teresa Jordà highlighted that ‘modernisation of the farming sector has led to ever larger, more technology-based farms, but failure to manage manure and slurry properly could cause major environmental problems. For some years now we have been working hard in the Catalan government on numerous fronts to ensure environmentally sustainable farming activity, and one such front is innovation’.
Along these lines, the LIFE AGRICLOSE project aims to promote actions for improving livestock waste management, progressing towards excellent fertilisation through nutrient concentration systems that improve efficiency and environmental safety, while also advancing towards models of circular bioeconomy.
The Minister stressed that ‘an increasing number of livestock farmers are turning the problem of waste into an opportunity, into a quality product, with the belief that “the more we do, the more we obtain”, which is a fantastic message to society and also fits in with one of the Ministry’s key pillars: promoting the circular economy and innovative, sustainable, inclusive and effective use of natural resources.’ Moving towards the circular economy also aims to use available resources to improve land productivity and help society adopt a healthier, more sustainable way of life, a strategy that serves as a driving force in promoting the territory.
Teresa Jordà sought to highlight the importance of ensuring viability and sustainability of livestock and crop farms, which also means ensuring the quality of the country’s soil and groundwater: in this context, another of the fronts, besides research, is regulation. On this point, Jordà stressed that the Ministry was working hard to pass the decree on livestock waste, with three major goals: improvement at the source of waste management, including treatment; innovation and improvement in application to soil, through excellent organic fertilisation; and control and maintenance of applications, ensuring traceability of movement, putting the emphasis clearly on organic fertilisation.
She stated that ‘We often talk about co-management, this new horizontal governance we are applying from the Ministry, after its success in the fishing sector, and which we are also applying to the drafting of the new decree on waste. The decree has been drawn up in full consensus with the sector, after many hours of exchanges and contributions from all parties. This means we have taken longer, but as you know, things turn out better when cooked slowly. The contributions from the sector have done much to improve the decree. I doubt whether any other decree has involved more work in the sector. This has given us a fantastic opportunity: co-responsibility in its application. This will make it easier to achieve high levels of compliance. This is how we work in the Ministry’.
In addition, this afternoon, Minister Teresa Jordà will be chairing the presentation of land concentration deeds in Llardecans, at the town council building. This represents another milestone in the major efforts by the Government of Catalonia to boost the Segarra-Garrigues irrigation works: the presentation of the property deeds for new estates to 128 owners benefiting from the concentrated area of Llardecans, covering 1,493 hectares.
This area, in sector 13 of the Segarra-Garrigues system, will have a total irrigation capacity of 6,500 m3 per hectare per year, while plots in the Natura 2000 Network, covering 40 hectares, have the right to support irrigation of 1,500 m3 per hectare per year for trees.
The economic impact of the land concentration farms in the area represents a cut in current expenses of around 15%. This is highly significant given the economic difficulties experienced by many farms. Such major savings are a result of shorter distances between estates, having reduced the total number of plots by around 25%. Thus a large number of owners have seen the number of their cropland estates reduced by 1 or 2, resulting in significant savings in diesel, machinery maintenance costs and time spent on agricultural work.
The primary irrigation network for sector 13 has now been executed, although the irrigation distribution network to the estates is dependent on owners contracting the service. The area is currently being promoted and in some cases 60% of owners have signed up to the distribution network project.