Place: Europe
Year(s): 2005-2008
Sector: Biomass & Bioenergy

Solutions for the safe application of wastewater and sludge for high efficient biomass production in Short-Rotation-Plantations (BIOPROS)

36 months

Project Description
The economic situation for European farmers deteriorated constantly during the last decade because of increasing cost pressures on agricultural products. Priorities in EU’s Common Agricultural Policy change and foresee to strengthen farmers’ role in rural development and fulfilment of quality standards for environment, animal protection and food security. To be competitive, farmers are obliged to adapt their business activities in terms of alternative products and quality requirements. ShortRotationPlantations (SRP) combined with the safe application of wastewater and sewage sludge for irrigation and fertilization purposes are a very promising alternative source of income due to the high economic biomass potential, the fast growing wood biomass demand for woodchips and woodpellets, the low cost water treatment and the enormous potential to be used for irrigation and fertilization purposes. Thanks to this procedure, SRPs are high efficient biomass production systems with additional contributions as biological filters to a lowcost and environmentally safe biological wastewater and sludge treatment. Thus SRPs perfectly meet general requirements not only for farmers in the former EU15 but also in the new Member States and Candidate Countries.

Following the structure of a Collective Research Project, RTD performers like research centres and universities will carry out research activities on behalf of Industrial Associations or Groupings (IAGs) in order to expand their knowledge base and improve the overall competitiveness of large communities of their members which are almost Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). In BIOPROS, the participating IAGs will gain knowledge about the economic, ecological and technical feasibility of SRPs for different local conditions and market requirements and will transfer it to their SME members (farmers, biomass processors, engineers, decisions makers). This will contribute to promote SRP biomass production between SMEs throughout Europe and abroad. The main focus will lay on the safe and efficient application of wastewater and sludge to guarantee high yields and sufficient treatment performance without any negative environmental or hygienic impacts. Lack of knowledge about the high SRP potential and prejudices against the application of human wastes shall be minimised during the project as well as barriers against the application of SRPbiomass.

For this reason a wide range of aspects will be subject of research including SRPs’ best practice and costs as well as related legislation and standards. In this project, 5 RTD performers will provide the required knowhow in cooperation with the participating 11 IAGs and the SME core group consisting of 9 enterprises from different European countries. The gained knowledge will be the base for certain IAG training activities about SRP to their members thus will be a contribution to spread the knowledge about biomass production in SRPs throughout Europe.


Scientific and technological objectives:

  • To enable an efficiency increase in ShortRotationPlantation (SRP) biomass production up to 3 times throughout Europe by reusing wastewater and sewage sludge for irrigation and fertilisation;
  • To enable the safe and efficient application of wastewater and sewage sludge in SRPs;
  • To promote SRP biomass production throughout Europe by transferring the generated knowhow to potential SRP endusers and market actors.

Environmental objectives:

  • To increase the production of CO2neutral wooden biomass in SRPs as a renewable raw material for different technical purposes up to 3 times;
  • To reduce application of natural water resources for SRP irrigation by 30%;
  • To substitute chemical fertilisers by 100%;
  • To completely prevent pollution of aquifers and surface waters potentially arising from uncontrolled wastewater and sludge reuse by developing standards for safe and efficient SRP operation;
  • To contribute to soil improvement on agricultural land by humus and nutrient enrichment. Social longterm objectives:

Social long-term objectives:

  • To increase farmers’ income by 10% thus strengthening their independency from regressing subsidies (e.g. from EU’s Common Agricultural Policy);
  • To create employment in especially rural areas and throughout the whole biomass sector;
  • To strengthen general sustainable development in rural areas.

Expected Results
The main expected result is development of the decision support tools, for:

  • Choice of the most suitable species/variety for use in different European regions based on the local climate, soil properties, types of wastewater / sludge to be used, and regional market situation for the produced biomass,
  • Choice of best management practice in terms of establishment, irrigation/fertilisation rate, application of additional fertilizers, and harvest interval taking into consideration the sitespecific conditions (climate, wastewater ionic strength, and soil properties),
  • Economical optimisation of the cropping system for different European regions,
  • Efficient application of SRP biomass in the regional market,
  • Guidelines for political decision makers regarding regional implementation wastewater/sludge application for biomass production.

Project Website

Project partners

EUBIA European Biomass Industry Association

ASAJA Spanish Farmers’ Association

CBAO Council of the Bulgarian Agricultural Organisations

UFU Ulster Farmers’ Union

KZRKiORNational Union of Farmers’ Circles and Agricultural Organisations

ETKL Estonian Farmers’ Association

ZSR Silesian Farmers’ Association

CONFAGRICOLTURA Italian Farmers’ Association

CZ BIOM Czech Biomass Association
Czech Republic

SKBIOM Slovak Biomass Association

IEES International Ecological Engineering Society

Mr. Helmut Lamp

Mr. Antonio Ramos Fernandez

Mr. Grzegorz Plonka





Laqua Treatment AB

ETA-Florence Renewable Energies

TTZ Technologie Transfer Zentrum Bremerhaven

EAU Estonian Agricultural University

SLU Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

ISCI Research Institute for Industrial Crops

UWM University of Warmia and Mazury