Relevant Projects

So far, many projects relative to Agricultural Waste treatment technologies have been funded within European Funding schemes and especially LIFE. Most of them focused on the development of innovative technologies of wastes treatment as well as, of innovative technologies for the improvement of production processes which further produce “cleaner” wastes. Apart from European research/scientific communities, there are also individuals (SMEs, environmentalists, etc) who have developed technologies or improved production stages aiming to better quality of the final products and to minimization of wastes volume and thus, environmental degradation caused by their disposal.

Treated wastewaters or composted sludges produced by these technologies could potentially be used for irrigation and/or fertilization of crops after evaluation and definition of specific terms and conditions regarding their suitability to support plant growth, without causing phytotoxicity and environmental problems, in general.

Projects relative to AW treatment funded by EU

In general, there are two categories of funded projects relative to the development of AW treatment technologies:

1. Projects that developed innovative treatment technologies with the production of composts and “clean” wastewaters suitable for the agricultural sector, which however, have not been tested for crop cultivation or tested in limited extent.

These are:

- LIFE05 ENV/IT/000845

New technologies for husks and waste water recycling plus (TIRSAV plus)

Web site:

Building on the results of a previous LIFE project (LIFE 00 ENV/IT/000223 TIRSAV), the new project will address the issue of cost-effectiveness of an innovative technology at oil-mill level through the planning and construction of a centralised recycling plant. The unit will also be able to recycle other organic wastes to produce organic fertilisers that are easy to use and acceptable for farmers. Finally, the project will promote the harmonisation of legislation at European level regarding the oil-mill wastes.

- LIFE98 ENV/E/000370

Development and implementation of a centralized plant for the re-use and valorization of agricultural waste from intensive cultivation and handling of fruits and vegetables (Spain)

The project aimed to develop a centralized plant suitable for the treatment of agricultural wastes from intensive cultivation and handling of fruits and vegetables. The plant was designed to produce four sub-products by using agricultural wastes as raw materials, namely biogas; organic fertilizer; liquid fertilizer; and water. The designed technical solution was a five step process which integrates three different waste treatment technologies. The steps and technologies involved were: (1) Initial methanization through mesophilic anaerobic digestion (2) Phase separation (3) Secondary methanization through mesophilic anaerobic digestion (4) Production of organic fertilizer through accelerated composting and (5) Production of liquid fertile through reverse osmosis.

- LIFE99 ENV/D/000424

Innovative demonstration facility for the treatment of wastewater from olive oil presses (OMW) with material and energetic utilization of the residues  (Germany, implementation in  Greece)

Web site:

This project demonstrates the advantages of a economically viable, multi-use process for the exploitation of the solid and energetic components from olive mill wastewater (OMW).

The core element of the technology was a multiple-stage anaerobic biological process. In this process, biogas obtained from the organic wastewater content would be converted into electrical and thermal energy (regenerative energy). In addition, high quality fertilizer and other valuable substances would be obtained from the residues. The purified wastewater would be used as process water or for the irrigation of agricultural land. For these, a demonstration system was erected in 1999 on the island of Crete and began operating at the beginning of the oil pressing season in November of the same year (still operating? If no data is available we may write this). The system operates successfully roughly 5 months out of the year and purifies the wastewater from an oil mill that produces approximately 400 tons per year of olive oil (three-phase decanter). The level of purification achieved is over 95%, while according to the beneficiaries, the produced solid residue could be used as fertilizer and the produced water/wastewater for irrigation purposes.

- LIFE00 ENV/GR/000671

Process development for an integrated olive oil mill waste management recovering natural antioxidants and producing organic fertilizer (Greece)-MINOS

The objective of the project was to establish a demonstration process for the integrated utilization of waste produced by olive oil press factories. The project involved the development of a viable high-technology process for the recovery of natural antioxidants from olive oil mill wastewater while the system was integrated with the composting of the wastewater sludge for the production of a natural organic fertilizer. The project demonstrated that the highly polluting liquid waste from olive oil mills can be successfully filtered and extracted to retrieve valuable polyphenols which have a high market value. Furthermore, solid waste from the olive oil processing can be combined with any remaining parts of the organic fraction of the wastewater to produce a rich soil conditioner. According to projects final report,the produced compost, as well as the produced liquid by-product could be applied to agriculture, as soil improver/conditioner and for irrigation, respectively, however the experimental application was not foreseen within the project’s activities.

- LIFE00 ENV/E/000555

Demonstration Plant for composting municipal sewage sludges and rice straw, and evaluation the agronomic quality of the produced compost (Spain)

Web site:

The project developed a new system to collect rice straw from muddy plots and a composting process using a mixture of rice straw and sludge from wastewater treatment has been tested and improved, and has shown good results. This has demonstrated the potential for recycling rice straw resulting from harvesting, as compared to the practice of burning it. As far as the produced compost is concerned, the project concluded that the product is an organic amendment and is a significant option as a suitable end use in agriculture. The beneficiaries evaluated the effect of the compost on a series of species characteristic of the Natural Park’s ecosystems (psamofilas) and also they used it to amend a franco clayey ground used in the cultivation of citrus fruits. Results revealed an increase in organic matter but not in humic acids nor in other analysed properties of the soil.

- LIFE05 ENV/GR/000245

Environmental Friendly Technologies for Rural Development (Greece)

The project main objective was to develop an integrated management plan for the Evrotas River Basin (Peloponnese, Greece) and coastal zone, combining the latest environmentally friendly technologies and socio−economic factors, developed and proposed a “toolbox” of technologies that could be used to minimize diffuse pollution originating from agricultural land, and finally installed and tested three prototype units to treat wastewater and solid waste from local production of olive oil and orange juice. Prototype units to treat waste from local olive oil mills and the wastewater from table olives producing companies were tested:

- One approach filtered olive wastewater before releasing the liquid residue into a newly planted area of poplar trees to be naturally degraded. Organic matter from the wastewater was not found below 80 cm depth and did not enter groundwater reservoirs. As the poplars and their root system grew, phytoremediation achieved a reduction of nitrate loads in the wastewater of 80%.

- A second technique used lime to help separate solid and liquid particles before composting the solid part and mixing the liquid with clean water. Both were then used on agricultural land, increasing yields of maize.

- The third approach used electrolysis to treat wastewater with high biological oxygen demand (BOD) from processing olives in brine. This reduced the BOD content by 50%.

Moreover, based on the pilots, a list of 10 ‘EnviFriendly’ techniques was established.

- LIFE05 ENV/E/000292

Processing plant for the integral treatment and valorization of the waste generated during the olive oil production process (Spain)

The project’s main goal was to demonstrate the environmental advantages, as well as the economic and technical viability, of a new system for treating waste from olive oil production. The system was based on a three-step procedure comprising the separation of solid residues, and evaporation and condensation process, and a final water treatment. After prototypes have been developed for each of these stages, a pilot plant was constructed to convert the waste to liquid and solid fertilizers and irrigation water.

- LIFE06 ENV/E/000044

Environmentally-friendly management of swine waste based on innovative technology: a demonstration project set in Aragòn (Spain)

The project aimed to improve the management of swine waste so as to minimize its environmental impact. An integrated management model able of responding to different locations and circumstances developed and demonstrated at three sites in Aragón (Spain). Through the establishment of three Swine Waste Management enterprises, the Beneficiaries aimed to achieve best management of wastes and also to reduce soil, water and air contamination, focusing especially on nitrate from non−point sources; to maximize nutrient recycling through the valorization of the pig slurry; and to improve economic efficiency and minimize the energy requirements of waste. Actions foreseen include also the application of innovative methods of wastes application on soil.

- LIFE08 ENV/E/000143

Integrated waste management and life cycle assessment in the wine industry: From waste to high−value products (Spain)

The project through its main objective  to reduce the environmental impact of the wine sector, integrating waste management and lifecycle assessment tools into the wine industry, foresees also the promotion of the recovery and recycling of winery wastes; the identification of the best by−products that can be obtained from wine waste based on their added value and their technical feasibility by carrying out tests in a pilot plant; and the identification of technologies and best available techniques in the winemaking sector.

-IMPROLIVE-Improvements of Treatments and Validation of the Liquid-Solid Waste from the Two-Phase Olive Oil Extraction (Spain)

Web site:

The aim of the project was to create a comprehensive package of treatments for wastes from the two-phases olive oil extraction. The targets were to develop a catalogue and a data-base for processing technical and economic information, to improve the recovery of orujo oil and alpeorujo drying to obtain better oil quality and reduce costs, to validate alpeorujo by protein optimisation to obtain animal feeding, by aerobic bioremediation of liquid and solid phases, to obtain plant growth promoters, and by combustion/gasification to recover energy and combustible gases.

NAIAS (2000-2006)-Innovative Olive Mill Wastewater Management Systems

Web site:

The project was financed by the EU Regional Development Directorate-General (ERDF Innovative Actions 2000 – 2006, Project 2001 GR 16 0 PP 209) and its mission was to develop innovative actions on the North Aegean islands. The specific goal was to set up pilot waste management systems on a number of olive mills in the North Aegean Region, ultimately aimed at defining integrated solutions to the olive mill waste management problem. These solutions took into account the specificities of each individual olive mill and tap on existing knowledge available of the technologies that have already been tested on the global scale, while aimed to test innovative techniques and strategies. Emphasis was placed both on the production process that produces the waste in question, thus on minimizing the amount of waste that was produced, as well as the treatment of the waste produced.

Thus, the aim was not to find the one and only solution to the waste management problem, since the optimal solution in each case most probably was dependent on the specificities of the particular olive mill (e.g. varying degrees of land availability, different production capacities etc.).

Furthermore emphasis was placed on the re-use of the waste or waste components (waste as a resource); the use of natural waste treatment systems; and on simple construction and operation of the waste treatment systems.

2. Projects that developed innovative treatment technologies with the production of composts and “clean” wastewaters suitable for agricultural sector, which have been tested in crop production, without, however, to evaluate effects on soil quality.

These are:

- LIFE00 ENV/GR/000723

Establishment, operation and demonstration of an innovative closed−cycle system of oil milling waste water using the Fenton method in Sitia−Crete, and reuse of treated water and by−products in agriculture (Greece)

(e-mail :

During this project, a pilot plant was designed and constructed in Eastern Crete with the purpose of fully treating the effluent from olive oil milling plants. The effluent from the adjacent oil mill is channeled to a treatment plant. At the plant, the effluent is processed through the Fenton method in combination with a dissolved air flotation device to extract the solid content form the effluent. The subsequent solid component in the form of non−toxic sludge cake is further processed through a closed in vessel co−composting reactor in conjunction with locally available agricultural waste. From this process, stabilized compost free of pathogens was obtained and allowed to mature into a high quality organic fertilizer available for distribution.

The scientific team further developed the technology and they produced compost with increased quality characteristics. The developed methodology of composting is mainly adopted by Agricultural Associations in Greece, which further pack and trade the product.

Tests carried out in crops and trees revealed a positive effect of compost in plant growth, however, no tests and studies have been performed until now regarding the potential effect on soil quality during cultivation.

- LIFE03ENV/GR/000223

Development of an economically viable process for the integrated management via utilization of winemaking industry wastes; production of high added value natural and organic fertilizer (Greece)-DIONYSOS

The overall goal of this project was the development of an economically feasible process for the integrated management of the waste generated by the winemaking industry in Greece. Specifically, the project wanted to demonstrate and prove that the development of a unit (at a pilot-plant scale) that would process winery solid waste to recover the high added-value polyphenols and use the remaining waste for the production of high nutritional value animal food or natural organic fertilizer was financially viable for SMEs.

The project succeeded to recover natural polyphenols, substances of high added value and wide applications by industries as food supplements and active ingredients of cosmetics, while promoted the use of the remaining slurry wastes and sludgy wastewater for the production of high nutritional value animal feed and also transformation of the remaining sludge to natural organic fertilizer by composting.

The produced compost was tested in small scale experiments for the cultivation of two vegetables on a sandy and on a loamy soil, showing very satisfactory results, as far as plant development is concerned. However, no other soil type and cultivated plants were tested, while the effect of compost addition on soil was not identified, at least during the project duration.

FP6 - Biological treatment and exploitation of the olive oil mill wastewater: Techniques and integrated applications

Project funded through the 6th European Framework Program between 2003 and 2006.

The project foresees the aerobic treatment of wastes produced from two-phases olive oil mill for the production of compost, suitable for use in vegetables and tree cultivations. The project successfully composted large waste quantities and produced a compost of good quality, which then was applied to many different vegetables and tree cultivations. However, these good results should be further integrated and supported by identification of the potential effect of this product on soil properties and quality.