Innovative technology for recycling olive mill by-products for agronomic purposes

Many research institutions are paying attention on the problem of disposal of olive mill sludges, trying to give solutions technologically and economically sustainable and environmentally safe. Land controlled application of fresh olive mill sludges presents organizational and logistic difficulties, especially for two-phases olive mill pomace.
Preliminary studies carried out by Section of Oliviculture of C.N.R-I.S.A.F.O.M., with financial support of National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, are recently further concretised in the European Project LIFE00 ENV/IT 000223 T.I.R.S.A.V. within the partnership of National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, Provincia of Salerno, Verdegiglio Macchine Agricole s.r.l, Cooperativa Nuovo Cilento s.c.r.l., Monacelli Farm and Section of Oliviculture of C.N.R-I.S.A.F.O.M. as scientific manager of the project itself. The project activity, actually still in progress, permitted to realize two plants for recycling pomace and olive mill waste waters, at present working at Cooperativa Nuovo Cilento and Monacelli mills, both located inside the Park area, and characterized, respectively, by two and three phases decanter. Therefore, such innovative recycling system are adaptable to any kind of most wide-spread olive mill plants.
The system aims at
- Processing automatically and continuously olive mill by-products directly at the olive mill industry level resulting in a not dripping and not bad smelling product, which can be packed in net bags and easily transported and stored in the firm's storehouse.
- By mixing olive mill wastes to other agricultural and industrial by-products (straws, sawdust, wool wastes, etc), creation of a highly improved organic mixture, with characteristics similar to organic or organo-mineral fertilizer, to serve as a soil fertilizer and/or amendment.
Further organizational and environmental benefits are:
- Appropriate storing of such organic mixture can be extended without any problem before land application; this storing time provides for its "ripening" getting more agronomic efficiency.
- Minimizing the chemical fertilizer soil applications;
- Lack of production of husk oil (sansa oil), qualitatively poor, and, as consequence, elimination of environmental problems caused by the emission released by husk oil production plants;
- Recovery of ground stones for other economically advantageous destinations (energy production, sandblasting of surfaces, activated carbon production);
- Enhancing the organic oliveculture because the output of recycling plant is environmentally safe and can be easily certified for this purpose.
The organic mixture coming out from this new technology is actually used for agronomic trials, besides on olive orchard as amendment or fertilizer, also as media in the nursery to grow olive plants in pots, for strawberry cultivated out of the soil and, finally, for edible mushrooms cultivation.
Definitively, the new technology developed by Section of Oliviculture of C.N.R-I.S.A.F.O.M does give alternative solution for disposal of olive mill waste by-products, providing for drastic reduction of the environmental impact of whole olive oil working process and producing an improved organic mixture for land application.