ACTION 3. TESTING, EVALUATING AND FINE TUNING THE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

OBJECTIVES:

  • Test the basic components, initial knowledge and assumptions of the new manure and OMW managing system.
  • Evaluate the new managing system regarding the technical components (meaning the operation of the pilot unit) and the end product (physicochemical).
  • Fine tune the managing system by doing all the required changes which will allow the maximisation of its operational capability, with the minimum cost and environmental impact.
  • Record data and information which will be useful in the completion of other Actions of the project.

METHODS EMPLOYED:

The reason that this action precedes timely the completion of the pilot unit (Action 2), has to do with the fact that some quantity of the end product must be produced as soon as possible in order to have the adequate time for the necessary agricultural test trials (Action 4). For this reason immediately after kick of TEIC will start preparing the end product in its own facilities in Crete. As mentioned TEIC owns and operates a pilot size composting unit which includes and a turner. Those facilities also include a more than 10,000 m2 of greenhouses which can also be utilized.

Manure (from farms in Crete) will be brought into TEIC and inside an existing green house, which will be slightly modified, composting will start. Eight weeks after the initial material has arrived and shaped into a windrow pile, another amount of manure will be brought and will be mixed with the dried compost. By this time still no OMW will be available, however by the end of the 12th week (late November) olive oil production will start and OMW will be available. By the end of 2011 the composting stage should be considered as completed (three consequent batches of manure will have been composted).

The addition of OMW will take place in two different scales. The first one –in small scale – will use 100 L plastic tanks where the produced compost will be mixed with the OMW mainly manually. Is estimated that about 20 to 25 different tests will be conducted with variables as OMW addition rates, mixing frequencies, depth of materials etc. Some of the tests will include two phase olive oil mill sludge, a semi-liquid waste also containing high amounts of nutrients. The produced materials will only be evaluated based on their physiochemical characteristics.

The largest amount of the compost will be introduced in cement based ditch in a depth of about 20 cm again inside the greenhouse. For mixing and drying the material a small hand handled tractor will be used where OMW irrigation will take place again by hand.

The physiochemical characteristics of course will be different to the product which the pilot unit in Ilia will be able to produce, but still through these tests it will be possible: a) provide the so needed New Product for some of the agricultural trials  and b) obtain additional experience for operating the pilot scale unit in a more appropriate and successful manner.

Manure will be transferred into the pilot unit both in batches as well as continuously in an effort to determine the best managing methodology. It will be composted, as described earlier, using old compost as bulking agent, in a repeating mode. How many times this must be repeated, will be also determined through the operation of the pilot unit. OMW addition rate during the first part of the thermophilic phase (moisture control) will also be determined during this first year of operation. Large woodchips, used as original bulking agents will be removed through screening, in an effort to improve the compost’s nutrients concentration (woodchips have very low Nitrogen, Phosphorus and potassium concentration).

Sun drying unit operational capabilities, effect of weather and sunlight, effect of OMW introduction methodology / rate and a series of other managing details will be recorded and evaluated during this first 12 months of the pilot unit operation. Also the proper managing of the storage area and the repeating of drying sessions will also be determined, after trials and evaluations. Aim is to produce a product with no odours (adequate composting), no pathogens (adequate composting and good sun light exposure), small or insignificant presence of polyphenols (time for adequate decomposition is a key issue), small moisture content (sun drying exposure) and of course at least 20 % d.w. concentration for both Nitrogen and Potassium and the highest possible for Phosphorus (approximately 8 to 10 % d.w.) in an inorganic form (the excess amounts of the three nutrients in organic form, is also a positive characteristic due to slow release phenomena).

This evaluation will be based in the physiochemical monitoring of the incoming materials, the products of the various stages and of course the end product. Additional to the above mentioned evaluations the following analysis will also take place:

  • pH and EC
  • Moisture content
  • Total and Organic Carbon, Organic Matter
  • Total, Organic and Inorganic Nitrogen
  • Total, Organic and Inorganic Phosphorus
  • Total, Organic and Inorganic Potassium
  • Elementary analysis
  • Heavy metals concentration (mainly Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn)
  • Germination Index
  • Respiration Rate   

 

Finally must be clarified that pathogens presence will include:

  • Total and faecal coliforms
  • Salmonella sp

An additional evaluation parameter of the New Product, and through that of the CONDENSE Manure and OMW Managing System, would be the handling of the new product. In simple terms it represents the need the New Product to require MINIMUM changes in both the way growers / farmers will use it as well as the way they will apply it (the relevant machinery) in comparison with the existing inorganic fertilisers. For this reason grinding and shaping it properly, is of significant importance. 

These analyses, together with the close monitoring of the operation parameters, will eventually determine the best managing pattern of the pilot unit. It is probable that this pattern might not be a single one, but a range or patterns each applicable in different circumstances. For example there might be a different pattern for winter and summer periods, or between manure with increased or decreased nutrients concentration (more repeats of initial composting sessions).

Even though the data for the Managing Manual of the Production Unit will be collected during this Action the Manual itself will be produced in Action 6, together with the other manuals.

EXPECTED RESULTS:

A tested, evaluated and fine tuned managing system that will allow the utilisation of manure and OMW and their specific physicochemical characteristics and compatibility with the composting / bio-drying and sun drying process, into a new easily usable product, with high concentration of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, very good availability (inorganic form) and that will be safe and beneficiary for agricultural and horticultural applications.