ARGE Kreisläufe

Closing cycles - recovery by means of return, transfer or utilisation of organic by-products on the farm

Topic area
Agriculture and forestry, incl. value chain
Environment, biodiversity, nature conservation
Climate protection and climate change

Disaggregation level
Climate protection
Climate change adaptation
Nature conservation
Environmental protection
Value added
EIP European Innovation Partnership

Project region
Lower Austria
Upper Austria

LE– Programming Period
LE 14–20

Project period
2019-2022 (geplantes Projektende)

Project costs overall
€ 475.752,36

Subsidy from LE 14-20
€ 475.752,36

EN - 16.02.1. Unterstützung bei der Entwicklung neuer Erzeugnisse, Verfahren & Technologien der Land-, Ernährungs- & Forstwirtschaft

Project initiator
ARGE Kreisläufe

Short description

As a result of the increasing specialisation of agricultural holdings in Austria, fewer and fewer farms have a reasonably closed nutrient cycle. Many farmers want to change this, but face problems, for example regarding the fairness of straw-manure cooperations or the use of unused alfalfa or grassland, the composting or conservation of residues, the use of biomass from nature conservation areas, or the use of fermentation residues and clay. ARGE Kreisläufe is therefore developing and testing practical measures that can close material cycles in farms and improve nutrient and humus efficiency through better use of agricultural residues.

Point of departure

Due to the extensive task of livestock farming in East Austria and the currently increasing specialisation of farms there are only a few farms left which still have a relatively close farm cycle. This results in the fact that most farms depend on external inputs. Due to the increasing prices of these inputs the margin squeeze is widening more and more. Closed nutrient and carbon cycles could counteract this trend, but would confront farms with new challenges. It leads, for example, to problems, as far as the fairness of cooperations, the utilization of the currently unexploited alfalfa – grassland growth, the conservation and utilisation of unused residual substances, the use of non-utilisable biomass of nature conservation areas for feeding purposes, and the use of fermentation residues, digestates and alumina in order to reach a humus effect which is as high as possible, are concerned. Therefore, many farmers are keenly interested in these questions, but the relevance of closed cycles is also emphasized in the UN Sustainability Goals (2016), the Circular Economy Package of the EU (2015) and the Austrian governmental programme (2017).

Project implementation and measures

  1. Field surveys and analysis of carbon and main nutrients in all material flows of the considered cycles within and between farms
  2. Carrying out trials to optimise carbon and nutrient cycling at the partner companies
  3. Calculation of nutrient balances and nutrient efficiency, as well as humus balances for the investigated measures to close operational cycles
  4. Evaluation of the tests, derivation of changes in the procedure and evaluation of the tested measures
  5. Development of balances, tests, catalogues of measures and decision trees that allow the results to be transferred to other farms