Introduction: Every year, according to the Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services LLP (2010), almost 18 million tons of mineral fertilizers are put upon European soils. Environmental and social impacts for people, land, rivers and groundwater are enormous. Consequently, the European Union has introduced norms and standards for inorganic fertilizers (EC Regulation 2003/2003) to regulate and harmonise the market. The other aim is to reduce the negative effects of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash used in most “conventional” inorganic/synthetic fertilizers (nitrate leaking into groundwater, eutrophication of rivers and seas, during use phase, emissions of nitrous oxides (N2O) with a high global warming potential), not to forget contamination of the fertilizers, pollutants from fertilizer production. Accordingly, greener alternatives, mainly produced by small companies with only a local business focus, have appeared on the market. Yet they still have not succeeded in penetrating it in order to significantly reduce the negative impacts of traditional fertilizers.
State of the art, innovation, proposed solution: One of these alternatives has been developed by
up-Umweltpionier GmbH (upgmbh), an SME from Austria. upgmbh’s fertilizers are not only 100% natural, but – in contrast to other “green alternatives” – do not include any animal components, but consist of the right mixture of herbal organic components, inorganic clay minerals and micro-organisms in order to evoke natural composting mechanisms in the soil, releasing nutrients for the plants over a longer period and allowing for decreasing doses over years of use. These mechanisms also improve the soil texture, and form humus, both also contributing to reduce erosion, and to fix carbon. The approach is completely different to artificial fertilizers that directly and immediately nourish the plants. Yet all the parts the plant does not immediately absorb are lost and infiltrate the groundwater and also lead to the effect that only rising amounts guarantee results over the years. Upgmbh’s fertilizers have even been classified as foodstuff, signalling that there is in fact not any health risk associated with it (which is always the case when including animal components, example BSE). So far, they have been tested and produced on pilot scale on the Austrian clay mine site delivering one of the raw materials.
Specific objectives: In the frame of this project we intend to spread the main innovative effects of our fertilizers all over the EU market: Food stuff quality and replication instead of transportation. We will pave the way for a green market success taking innovation-related, legal, business and organisational steps for EU market replication, which in future has to be based on local production centres as it is not sensible to transport heavy packs of fertilizers across Europe. Furthermore it is necessary to draw the pilot production in Austria towards industrial dimensions. For the development of the plant a stepwise and integrated LCA approach will be used.
Work programme and major outputs: The project starts with field tests of the products together with Austrian organisations working in the field of gardening to ensure development of partnerships as well as gaining first strategic partnership agreements. The pilot production in Austria (33 t, WP2) will constantly be developed to meet the sales targets given within the project followed by further upscaling steps thereafter. Based on prior experiences and experiences with the new eco-friendly production line in Austria a market replication system will be developed (WP3) covering all stages from identification of optimal locations for production to marketing and distribution planning. The business and exploitation plan (WP4) will be developed to overcome the identified market barriers (higher price, lack of awareness of hazards associated with fertilizers, wrong use of fertilizers, fierce competition by conventional fertilizer industry), among others by a very targeted market approach to address the main customer groups (tourism business, private gardeners and public green areas) identified so far. Dissemination activities (WP5) will be designed to best support the business strategy.
Our fertilizer shows significantly better environmental performance than average synthetic/inorganic fertilizers: For GHG emissions, air pollutants like NOx and SO2, waste, water, resources and energy on average our fertilizers only cause less than 10 % of emissions, uses more than 400 times less water during the processes and reduces energy demand significantly.
We expect enormous economic and ecological effects by further replication/EU market penetration and substitution of inorganic/synthetic fertilizers, as our organic-mineral fertilizers support humus formation, fix carbon, prevent erosion and do not at all contribute to the nitrate and eutrophication problems, do not cause nitrous oxides emissions during use phase and do not include any pollutants, thus helping to protect European soils and society.
 Evaluation of Regulation, (EC) 2003/2003 on Fertilisers, Final Report 2010, p.16
Technical description including the state of development
Description of the technology, product or process including its innovation aspects Please detail the physical location of the project and if appropriate, specify the production capacity of current or future plants
The applicant of this proposal, up-Umweltpionier GmbH (upgmbh), an SME from Austria, has developed fertilizers that are not only 100% natural, but – in contrast to other “green fertilizers” – do not include any animal components, but consist of the right mixture of
- herbal organic components (maize gluten),
- inorganic clay minerals (argillite, cream of clay, zeolithe) and
- special micro-organisms (Lacto-bacilli: Lb. Paracasei, Lb. Rhamnosus, Lb. Spezialis) in order to evoke natural composting mechanisms in the soil, releasing nutrients for the plants over a longer period and allowing for decreasing doses over years of use. These mechanisms also improve the soil texture, and form humus, both contributing to reduce erosion, and to fix carbon. The approach is completely different to synthetic fertilizers that directly and immediately nourish the plants by the substances of the fertilizer. Yet, all the parts the plant does not immediately absorb, are lost and infiltrate the groundwater and also lead to the effect that only rising amounts guarantee results over the years.
Our fertilizers come as powder; in contrary to most fertilizers being granulates. The reason is, that for providing granulates it would be necessary to include additives, which might add environmental burdens, and the granulation process requires heating, which would evoke agglutination effects with the maize gluten, reduce effectivity of the micro-organisms and demand extra energy.
In Austria, our fertilizers have been classified as foodstuff, signalling that there is in fact not any health risk associated with it (which is always the case for synthetic/inorganic fertilizers and also for “more environmentally friendly ones” e.g. due to the inclusion of animal components). Astonishingly, so far health risks for humans and animals lingering on the fertilized areas are rarely discussed.
Further innovation aspects include: 100% natural, non-toxic and a list of environmental benefits regarding production and use phase (see below and B5).
So far, the fertilizers have been produced on pilot scale in Kriechbaum, Upper Austria, on the clay mine site delivering one of the raw materials. Three variants of fertilizers with different shares of ingredients have been developed: one for lawns, one for fruits and vegetables, one liquid universal fertilizer. The pilot production is very limited in quantity (max. capacity 33t / year) and is a more or less manual process only supported by a vertical mixing machine, in which we are filling the components and mixing them up. After finishing the mixture the product is filled into bags (10 and 25 kg) manually. A small weighing machine is used to ensure the correct filling weight. The closing is done by use of a small sack sewing machine. All the necessary steps are done by hand without any automation.
This pilot production process is not suitable for real production, binding a high amount of human resources and leading to high costs, also because only small quantities of raw materials can be processed and therefore raw materials have to be purchased at high prizes.
The pilot production was essential to allow supplying fertilizers for field tests (see below). In parallel we sold some packages of our fertilizers (via our own website and a co-operation with “Bild der Wissenschaft”, which is only advertising presents with a “scientific touch” not really addressing our future target group), to also gain feedback from random “first movers”. To enlarge the feedback pool we also provided fertilizers for free to potential users in the surrounding of our pilot site.
However, limited by missing field test results and production infrastructure, so far we could not really start to enter the market.
In the frame of this project we intend to draw production to industrial scale at the production site in Kriechbaum/Austria following a Stage-development model:
Stage 1 | From pilot production to ECO/12/333065 Natural Fertilizer (2010-2013)
The starting capacity has been defined according to a given pilot production in Austria. The possible production of fertilizers has been defined by approximately 33t per year. The limit according to this amount has been on the one hand limited personal resources as well as missing machinery resources from the company KAMIG to produce the fertilizer. At the beginning we had problems because of lack of silo, missing know-how and also needed minimal tool equipment. Because of these limiting facts not more than the mentioned amount of fertilizer has been produced in the Years 2010 to 2012. Furthermore we weren’t able to sell more fertilizers in the beginning. Because of this circumstance it would have not make sense to produce more. In addition to this problem we had to face problems regarding dry storage of fertilizers at the production site, during transport and at the places of distribution. Also damage done by mice and other animals has become a problem and caused big losses in material and unavoidable in money. In the year 2013 we produced/sold about 35 tons of our natural fertilizer.
Stage 2 | from project start to March 2015 (2014-2015)
During the year 2014 we will shorten the setup-time for the production process by building up know-how regarding the production-process. This will become possible by defining 2 workers being reliable for the production. Furthermore we will raise the useable time of producing by internally reorganising work. In addition we will establish a supplier’s contract for maize gluten to ensure availability. The storage problem will become a bit relaxed because a container will be bought. At the actual state of knowledge that’s the only way to keep mice off the products.
Stage 3 | from April 2015 to End of project (2015-2017) in 2 steps
upgmbh will be able to arrange the production on one area at the production site in Kriechbaum/Austria. Up to this point we had to transport all the needed parts and ingredients from different stores to the mixing station. This way we need more time as well as more than one worker. The setup-time for the production still takes a lot of time.
As we are planning to place the whole production process on one field within the hall we are awaiting further effects regarding raising the production. In addition to this optimisation we could start producing in shifts. Depending on the sales figures we would do this. According to these additional possibilities we will increase the output to 140 tons in 2015 (Deliverable D2.2 to be delivered in M22).
To be able to reach the defined deliverable D4.8 we have to increase the production possibilities furthermore. On the one hand by adding containers, so that we are able to produce a big amount of sacked products and store them on palettes (mice-sure and dry) to speed up the production process. On the other hand we have staff members working at KAMIG with the needed skills to build up automatic transportation systems. This work can be planned as well as done by employees of KAMIG at the production site in Kriechbaum. There we have workers with the needed skills as well as the needed equipment. This will lead us to produce/deliver the agreed on sales of at least 240 tons for Year 3 within the project – D 4.8 to be delivered in month 36.
Stage 4 | Until 2 Years after the End of the project (2017-2019)
Succeeding in selling 240 tons in Year 3 of the project we will invest the needed money out of the cash-flow to increase the production. The production output will be at least 400 tons within 2 years after the project (corresponding Deliverable D2.12). The effective production amount will correspond to the sales at this time.
With a moderate adjustment of the existing production plant it will be possible to implement the needed production capacity according to the planned sales figures beyond the year 2017.
Rationale for the Composition of the Consortium
List of Participants
|Participant No.||Participant name||Participant short name||Country||Main Role in Consortium|
|1 (CO)||up-Umweltpionier GmbH||upgmbh||AT||Co-ordinator, establishing industrial scale production in Austria, business strategy|
|2(CB)||Ing. Johann Daxner GmbH||Daxner||AT||Technical consulting partner responsible for the plant/machinery for the main production process|
|3(CB)||OBL Systemvertrieb GmbH||OBLSys||AT||Technical consulting partner responsible for the plant/machinery for the packaging process|
|4(CB)||“Kamig” Österreichische Kaolin- und Montanindustrie Aktiengesellschaft Nfg. Komm.Ges.||KAMIG||AT||KAMIG is 100% owner of upgmbh and running the clay mine at the fertilizer production site. KAMIG personnel will accompany the industrial scaling process and provide the factory manager in the long run.|
* The numbering and names of the participants should be the same as those used in Part A and Part C
CO: Co-ordinator, CB: Co-beneficiary
Brief description of the participants and rationale for the composition of the consortium.
Co-ordinator upgmbh has done the preparatory work for the fertilizers that are the focus of this project. Production of these fertilizers will be transferred to industrial scale in the frame of the project. The production site is situated at partner KAMIGs clay mine, and KAMIG owns upgmbh as well as KAMIG personnel technically will run the industrial scale production of upgmbh.
Partners Daxner and OBLSys will plan and implement the machinery. Their main motivation to participate in the project is to implement even the most difficult requirements into the engineering design for the innovative plants in order to gain new knowledge for further projects especially in the future field of Eco-Innovation. It is also planned to grant exclusive rights to these partners for building plants at further franchise partner sites in the EU.
Partners are described under B10.
The following key actors are integrated as subcontractors in this project:
Dagmar Diwok: German senior expert in sustainable management of enterprises and destinations. Since 1992 Dagmar Diwok is involved in and responsible for regional, national and EU projects in the field of sustainable development, specifically regarding tourism and protected areas. Most relevant projects: INTOUR – 2010 – 2013 – (http://www.travelife.eu/index.php?id=1&mid=346), where Dagmar Diwok was responsible for involvement and training of Italian hotels and tour operators regarding the TRAVELIFE sustainability scheme, organisation of events, coordination, dissemination. Since 2009 she has been president of the Local Agenda 21 for Garmisch-Partenkirchen (http://agenda21-garmisch-partenkirchen.de/) and between 2005 and 2009 president of the Italian NGO ACTA (http://www.actanet.it).
Dagmar Diwok combines multifold experiences which will be very valuable to this project:
- She is perfectly fluent in the sector specific language in German, Italian, Romanian and English
- She has long-term experience in multi-national EU projects with a focus on project-coordination, dissemination and exploitation and as such can support the co-ordinator for whom EU projects are a new field
- Her background expertise is matching with the field of eco-innovation and this project’s area in particular
Dagmar Diwok will translate at the meetings but also the field test use of recommendation documents as well as any dissemination material (both in print and for the website). She will work on specific deliveries, explained within WP5. In general she will contribute to the project as a subcontractor.
Franz Ottner: Austrian university professor at BOKU (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna) and expert in geology, applied mineralogy, clay mineralogy. Since 1990 he is involved in many national and international projects in the field of applied geology, natural resources and soil sciences. He will support the project with analyses of soils from replication areas.
Horst Lunzer: Austrian LCA expert with more than 20 years of experience in the LCA field, as a researcher as well as in working with and consulting businesses on their way to sustainability. Horst Lunzer has already contributed essentially to the existing LCA study on our fertilizers. He will continue this work in the frame of the project to secure an integrated LCA and eco-design approach.
Orlando Cavedoni: Expert in trading and sales, international transactions; Chemical Engineer, expert in raw materials for ceramic and paper industry, international consulting with world-wide experiences in the mining and materials industry and research. He will be included in the project as consultant, especially -within WP4.
European Added Value
Benefits of addressing the subject of the proposal at European level
This project is aiming at EU-wide market replication and only makes sense at EU level.
From the market perspective the target group of local authorities respectively their procurement procedures will more and more follow EU-wide green public procurement guidelines that can be easier fulfilled by a true European product, certified with the EU eco-label. The target group tourism, especially hotels, are partly organized in EU-/worldwide chains that can only be addressed by products that are available for all chain partners as they follow a European-wide procurement policy.
It is also a strategic aim of this collaboration to promote a consensus among big and small European producers on common standards for organic fertilizers.
Considering the environmental benefits we intend to trigger significant effects that can only be achieved by a project on EU level. These effects are well in line with European Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection, [SEC(2006)620]/[SEC(2006)1165], which states that the overall objective is protection and sustainable use of soil by preventing further soil degradation and preserving its functions and restoring degraded soils to a level of functionality consistent at least with current and intended use. We can also contribute to the implementation of Directive 2004/35/CE stating “The necessary measures shall be taken to ensure, as a minimum, that the relevant contaminants are removed, controlled, contained or diminished so that the contaminated land, taking account of its current use or approved future use at the time of the damage, no longer poses any significant risk of adversely affecting human health. The presence of such risks shall be assessed through risk-assessment procedures taking into account the characteristic and function of the soil, the type and concentration of the harmful substances, preparations, organisms or micro-organisms, their risk and the possibility of their dispersion.”
Due to reduced resource use compared to “conventional” fertilizers we also contribute to Communication COM(2011) 571 final “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe”.
Finally, of course our product and the business orientation of all consortium partners fit into COM(2011) 899 final: Innovation for a sustainable Future – The Eco-innovation Action Plan (EcoAP) and all policies and initiatives to promote green businesses in the EU.
EU dimension of the market barriers and environmental challenges and how they will be tackled
As sensitivity for green solutions and health issues plays a role for market penetration of our fertilizers, differences in the European regions regarding these sensitivities are an EU market barrier that will be tackled in the frame of our project within the development of our business strategy (we expect respective conclusions from our market trials).
Regarding admission rules our plan is to apply for inclusion in the list of designated EC fertilizers in pursue of Regulation (EC) No 2003/2003. As there is no EU regulation on organic fertilizers or corresponding labels, the market barriers are different national regulations and standards. To overcome them, a detailed analysis of all relevant national norms, standards and admission rules of the EU member countries will be conducted. On this basis, fertilizers will comply with all standards to qualify for the respective national labels.
In Austria fertilizers do already have the necessary admission.
For Germany fertilizers will first be classified according to “Deutsche Düngemittelverordnung”. According to first information of the ministry for nutrition, agriculture and consumer protection  our fertilizers should not need additional scientific review. The responsible body for admission in Germany are special control bodies of the provinces.
Level of European cooperation in the project
The project partners come from Austria with a subcontractor from Germany and from Italy. EU-wide dissemination and contacts with EU-wide organizations are included in the dissemination strategy. During and after the project term, both replication and transferability within the EU-27 are envisaged.
 Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz
 Düngemittelverkehrskontrollstellen der Bundesländer
Rationale and structure of work programme divided up in Work Packages (mainly project phases)
The work programme is dedicated to stepwise technical improvement of the fertilizer production process and steps towards EU market replication:
The project starts with WP 2, ”soft industrialisation” in Austria expected to deliver improved production capacities to be able to achieve the defined sales for Year 3 within the project in M36.
Within WP 3 the first draft of the market replication system is developed.
The final outcome of WP 3 is a generic replication system ready to be applied across Europe. For this purpose, within WP3, potential franchise partners will be identified as well as agreements with future franchise partners will be delivered to run these local businesses.
WP 5 Business and exploitation plan is also starting soon after beginning of the project, as the business plan is a necessary requisite for the market replication system.
The mandatory work packages WP 1: management and WP5: dissemination running over the whole project period completes the work programme.
diagram summarising and illustrating the logic of your work programme