Introducing the Coordinator

Edward Someus, coordinator of NUTRIMAN thematic network

Edward Someus, coordinator of NUTRIMAN thematic network

The NUTRIMAN Consortium consists of 14 high-quality partners and 4 associated partners from 8 EU countries: 9 research organisations; 3 industrial partners; 4 Chambers of Agriculture; 1 Farmer organisation and 1 non-profit organisation. Every week, one of the partners in the NUTRIMAN thematic network will be introduced via an interview, starting with Edward Someus from 3R-BioPhosphate Ltd. 

What kind of organisation is 3R-Bio-Phosphate Ltd?

3R-BioPhosphate Ltd. is a technology-intensive applied RTD and industrial engineering SME company with core specialization recycling and reuse of agri/food industrial by-products, most importantly  BioPhosphate recovery, high-quality biochar processing and agricultural/environmental sector commercial applications.

What is your role in the NUTRIMAN project?

Coordinator and S&T expert of the NUTRIMAN Thematic Network.

How did you come up with the idea for NUTRIMAN?

The European market trends indicating that there is an increased farmer demand within the European agricultural sector toward more environmentally friendly farming practices and using controlled-release fertilisers such as bio-based fertilisers in compliance with the strict new EU legislations. There are several knowledge gaps for farmers how to adopt these innovative bio-based fertilisers and new nutrient management practices with special concern to the implementation of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation. Better understanding needed from the farmers' side how to more efficiently manage N/P nutrients at farm production level, which requires more intensive knowledge exchange and demonstration of practical tools and fertilising practices. There is urgently need for full collection of easily accessible practice-oriented knowledge in a language easily understandable form on the nutrient recycling thematic area, so that the knowledge could remain available in the long term for agri-practitioners, farmers associations and organizations and for SME farmers.

Universities and research institutes are coming up with many solutions for a sustainable future. However, research findings are often not finding its way into agricultural practice. Why not?

Despite the continued funding of scientific projects innovative ideas and methods from practice are not captured and spread, while also research findings are often not integrated into agricultural practice, therefore there remains an innovation gap. The generated knowledge through scientific projects (FP7, H2020, Operational Groups…) and research results in the area of nutrient management and recovery are often insufficiently exploited. Many EU research programmes are unbalanced and primarily focused towards low research maturity TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels) and publication-driven basic research actions. Therefore, the EU lags behind in breakthrough, market-creating innovation and more could be done to support the demand for innovative solutions and user-driven innovations. There is an urgent need for encouraging researchers to be by far more active in market competitive technology and product development driven actions towards high research maturity TRLs and close to market innovative solutions with true value demonstrations in operational environment. Therefore, support for breakthrough, market-creating innovation should be strengthened.

What nutrient management problems are farmers facing in the EU? 

The EU farmers rely on the continuous input of mined and non-renewable Phosphorus (P) and energy-intensive Nitrogen (N) supply. Mineral fertiliser production and use have driven to resource depletion and pollution of the environment. The European agriculture sectors have a high dependence on resources (energy, raw materials and water) in their production and striving for long-term sustainability. Phosphate has been titled by the European Commission as Critical Raw Material with high economical importance, high supply risk and no possibility for substitution while low end-of-life recycling rate. For P-fertilisers, the EU is currently highly dependent on import of chemosynthetic processed mineral phosphate, which is mined outside of the EU (>88% are imported from Morocco, Tunisia and Russia) and containing various high levels of Cadmium and Uranium toxic contaminations.

What value/impact will the results from the project bring?

The user-driven and 'bottom-up' approached NUTRIMAN Thematic Network (TN) focusing on the most urgent needs of farmers while contributing to the more competitive and sustainable agriculture. This N/P thematic network action ensuring to minimise the use of non-renewable and critical raw materials and replacing it with secondary raw materials such as recycled phosphorus and nitrogen resources. NUTRIMAN is helping farmers to understand and recognize the real benefits of the bio-based fertilisers while promoting the practical implementation of the new Fertilising Products Regulation, including how to practically adopt and use it in their farming practices. NUTRIMAN will contribute to the greater user acceptance of the collected nutrient recovery products/technologies and nutrient management solutions and providing more intensive dissemination to agri-farmers end-users. In this way, NUTRIMAN TN will increase the farmers' knowledge and technical/economical acceptance towards novel bio-based fertilisers in line with the ambitious targets of the EU Circular Economy and implementation of the new EU Fertilising Products Regulation.

Finally, NUTRIMAN TN ensures that when the new EU Fertilising Products  Regulation law harmonization is reaching implementation status by 2022, the agricultural practitioners already know, have tried and are applying such recovered products in practice.