We have gathered here some of the basic terms of Life DOP project that may be more difficult to understand for non-experts
Mixture of methane and carbon dioxide (mainly) produced the anaerobic fermentation of biodegradable organic material. Anaerobic digestion is a biotechnology that allows the production of renewable energy from biomass, valuing even the last stages of the carbon cycle (eg. liquid manure, plant residues).
In livestock industry it applies to animal waste or carcasses; you can also use specially grown crops in order to be collected and chopped to produce “biomass”, such as corn, sorghum, wheat, common reed, beets.
The whole process is the decomposition of organic material by some types of bacteria, producing carbon dioxide, molecular hydrogen and methane
The digestate is the byproduct of the anaerobic digestion process after the production of biogas. It is used as a fertilizer material on agricultural crops. The anaerobic digestion, in fact, leads to a reduction of the organic substance but does not reduce the presence of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients.
The valorization of the digestate is a key point in the economic and environmental sustainability of the biogas supply chain and also in the livestock industry. Identifying the digestate as a real fertilizer, it is possible to promote actions for the exploitation of this resource out of the cattle farm, promoting a closed loop supply chain logic and environmental protection, in a green approach to modern agriculture.
EU Directive 91/676 / EEC. The Directive was transposed into Italian legislation by the next Legislative Decree of 11 May 1999, n. 152 and the Ministerial Decree of 7 April 2006. The basic contents of the directive are:
- the identification of vulnerable zones by nitrates from agricultural sources (NVZ), introducing the ban on spreading of livestock waste over a maximum annual limit of 250 kg of nitrogen per hectare
- the regulation of the use of agricultural livestock waste, defining the so-called Action programs: these programs shall specify the manner in which it can be spilled.
In application of this Directive, the Italian Regions have delimited the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone of agricultural origin (NVZ) and drafted the Plan of Action Required which is the set of rules that companies must comply.
Feed Efficiency (in dairy cattle)
The feed efficiency in dairy cattle is an index that measures the conversion capacity of the administered and ingested diet in actually produced milk.
The improvement of environmental conditions (stables, facilities, milking parlors), the genetic level beef (in every race, but especially for the most current and productive breeds) and new findings in the field of nutrition and feeding of dairy cows for a proper rationing, allowed considerable power efficiency improvements. If in the 50s and 60s it was not uncommon to find efficiency values of 1 kg of milk for 1 kg of dry matter ingested, on average now we consider a good value to produce 1.3 kg of milk for 1 kg of dry matter.
Since a more productive animal uses a minor proportion of ingested food for his body maintenance, while a greater proportion is converted to milk, it is inevitable that the improved food efficiency also carries considerable advantages both in the containment of the production cost of the milk and in the economic impact of nutrition in milk production. More importantly, from the environmental point of view, feed efficiency increases the sustainability of dairy farms
The cost in terms of environmental resources and energy spent to produce the good. Both for environmental and economic reasons, it is therefore preferable to use low input foods, with a cheaper cost in environmental and energy terms, with a reduction of the overall LCA of the supply chain.
Life Cycle Assessment
Method that evaluates a set of interactions that a product or a service has with the environment, considering its entire life cycle, which includes the pre-production stages (hence extraction and production of materials), manufacturing, distribution, use (hence reuse and maintenance), recycling and final disposal. The LCA procedure is standardized internationally by the ISO standards 14040 and 14044.
The choice of specific crops, adapted to individual and unique characteristics, as food to be allocated to livestock.
In the case of dairy cows the choice of the best fodder in the production of energy and protein foods, can lead to produce the best possible food to be used in the stable, but also to reduce the power cost. Proper management of the forage system achieves foods otherwise unavailable on the market (ie. forage ensiled or replacement of external sources of protein with protein fodder cultivated).
The choice of species to grow, adequate rotations, types of conservation and better integration with rationing in the barn, are the essential strategies for a modern and sustainable business.