Skip to content

Valio’s slurry processing pilot boosts the nutrient cycling from manure

The animal manure generated annually, contains vast amounts of valuable nutrients. When used correctly, the nutrients from manure could fill a significant portion of the phosphorus fertilizing needs of the Finnish agriculture. In practice, the nutrients do not circulate efficiently enough to meet the need. In Valio’s pilot cattle slurry is processed to nutrients fractions, biogas and pure water. As result, the use of manure based nutrients as a fertilizer becomes easier, circulation of nutrients is improved and nutrient leaches to waterbodies are reduced. The pilot project is a part of BSAG’s The breakthrough of nutrient cycling – business ecosystem.

In addition to being a resource, manure can also be a problem. Storing manure takes up space and spreading it requires time, money and arable land. While manure is an important source of nutrients, in its’ unprocessed form the concentration of nutrients is relatively low. In Also nitrogen cannot be used in the most efficient way. Valio’s new process brings change to this situation. With the process the cattle slurry can be separated in to phosphorus and nitrogen fractions, biogas and pure water.

What differentiates Valio’s process from the already existing methods, is that a greater part of the water can be separated. This enables easier transportation, makes the use as a fertilizer more efficient and helps the acquisition of energy from manure as a biogas.  After the process, nutrients are in compact forms in separate phosphorus and nitrogen fractions, which will ease the use and spreading of the fertilizers.

Valio starts the designing work of the pilot plant during the 2017. The pilot is planned to treat 50 million liters of sludge every year. The pilot plant is the first of its kind globally and it is used to test the functionality of the process, the optimal scale of the process and logistics of the transportation of the sludge.

Win-Win situation for the farmers and for the Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea Action Group has been involved in the idea behind the pilot plant because appropriate manure treatment would have positive impacts to the Baltic Sea eutrophication and climate.

Valio’s process would boost nutrient circulation and decrease the use of artificial fertilizes. Process would directly affect the sludge based nitrous oxide emissions.  Indirectly it would decrease the need to manufacture artificial fertilizes, bringing down the harm that the manufacturing causes to the climate. In addition, the process would enable more efficient and appropriate use of sludge as a fertilizer, which would lead to decreasing leakages to the waterbodies.

-Nowadays phosphorus rich sludge is also spread to fields where the need for nutrients is low. In addition, when phosphorus is applied to the surface of a field, the risk for leakages is high. Thus, there is a need for methods to further process the manure. BSAG has worked with nutrient cycling actively in the past years and therefore BSAG has been a natural partner in the project development, tells Matti Harju, Valio’s retired Chief Technology Officer.

-Approximately 80% of the nutrient cycling potential is in the animal manure. Therefore, Valio’s pilot project is an essential step towards nutrient cycling, continues BSAG’s Secretary General Mathias Bergman.

The demand for manure treatment concepts is global

If the concept works, it has great export potential. In the areas of intensive agriculture, with a large number of animals compared to the amount of arable land, the demand for manure treatment concepts is urgent. Manure processing is a part-solution for a global problem.  It would also have direct impact to climate and to waterbodies.

Valio’s project is a part of BSAG’s The breakthrough of nutrient cycling – business ecosystem. The ecosystem is a symbiotic network of tens of companies and research institutes, brought together by BSAG. The aim of the ecosystem is to create new business opportunities and export potential for Finnish nutrient cycling related companies and to increase the overall value of nutrient related business.

More information about the pilot project and the business ecosystem can be found below:

Valio’s pilot (in Finnish):

The breakthrough of nutrient cycling – business ecosystem:

Read also

Read more