Sustainability threatened by rising demand for livestock products
Global demand for meat, milk and eggs has tripled in the past four decades and is expected to double by 2050. Increased global livestock production has great impacts on the environment and increases global warming. A major new European research project at the University of Copenhagen aims to identify and develop innovative solutions and technologies to handle and utilise the huge quantities of animal waste from livestock production. In Denmark, 34 million tons of animal manure are produced annually.
Consumers in Europe and many other places in the world want to take meat, eggs and milk home in their shopping bags. The world average intake of meat is around 50 kg per capita, but in Europe consumption is approximately twice that figure.
Livestock production in agriculture requires enormous inputs of resources such as land, energy, water and nutrients. New research and innovation will pave the way for the development of technologies and systems to make agriculture more resource-efficient. The principal coordinator for the major new European research project ReUseWaste, Professor Lars Stoumann Jensen from the Department of Agriculture and Ecology at the Faculty of Sciences, explains:
"The ambition of the research project is to generate new knowledge that can help agriculture to contribute to a much more resource-efficient society. The demand for resources is rapidly increasing at the global scale, so we urgently need to think innovatively in order to ensure sustainable agricultural production in the future - it will be absolutely critical for the food and energy security at the global level."
The goal is a more resource-efficient farming system
The research project will focus on extracting bio-energy from waste in order to reduce consumption of fossil energy, increasing the recycling of nutrients in order to decrease the use of artificial fertilisers and conserving soil quality by returning organic matter to agricultural land.
The project will concentrate on these three focus areas, nutrients, energy and organic matter in agricultural production.
"We believe that these three parameters are key to increasing sustainability. As an example, manufacture of artificial fertilisers is extremely energy-intensive and one of the nutrients involved, phosphorus, is a limited resource. By developing technologies for recycling, we can obtain multiple benefits. The ambition is to create a great deal of new knowledge and to develop sustainable technologies that will make agriculture more resource-efficient," says Lars Stoumann Jensen.
The project is based around strong collaboration between research institutions and environmental technology companies, in order to ensure rapid implementation of research results into development and commercial innovation. Furthermore, public authorities are included as associate partners in order to ensure that environmental regulations, which are often a barrier to the implementation of new solutions in agriculture, can be used strategically to drive more sustainable development.
The project is funded as a European research training network, so in addition to producing new research knowledge, it also aims to strengthen training, skills development and competence building among future young scientists across Europe and between universities, companies and authorities.
Principal Project Coordinator Prof. Lars Stoumann Jensen
Department of Agriculture & Ecology
Faculty of Science
Tel. +45 35 33 34 70
Mobile: +45 21 22 20 39
Communications Officer Rikke Pape Thomsen
Faculty of Science
Mobile: +45 24 48 33 14
€ 3.24 million over the period 2012-2015 Source: The EU FP7 Marie Curie Action programme, under the Initial Training Network call.
14 young researchers (PhD students and post-docs) will be trained in the project.
- University of Copenhagen - Principal Project Coordinator Professor Lars Stoumann Jensen
- University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
- Wageningen University, the Netherlands
- Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal
- Univ. Tras-os-Montes & AltoDouro, Portugal
- Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Spain
- University of Torino, Italy
- University of Limerick, Ireland
- Komtek Miljø A/S, Denmark
- University Miguel Hernández, Spain
- Energy Research Centre, Holland
- PTM s.r.l, Italy
- Alfa Laval Nakskov A/S,Denmark
- Pieralisi Group, Italy
- Biomass Heating Solutions Ltd., Ireland
- Granja Pedro Guevara, Spain
- Thermphos International, the Netherlands
- Bio Systems Europe, UK
- Verification Agency for Environmental Technologies in Agricultural Production, Denmark
- Regione Piemonte, Italy