Fabrizio Adani: “A lot of energy is needed to make fertilizer” 

A large part of the world’s agriculture is dependent on fertiliser. The problem is that the linear use of natural resources exceeds the limits of our planet. There are alternatives such as using anaerobic digestion to make renewable fertiliser from organic waste. The Italian government has recently embraced this new scientific discovery and incorporated it within legislation.

Fabrizio Adani praised the impact that fertiliser has had and continues to have on the agricultural sector. But the price is high: “Fertiliser leads to environmental problems such as the nitrogen excretions in the Netherlands. Phosphorus – another natural substance in fertiliser – is only produced in a few countries and is becoming ever scarcer. Moreover, making fertiliser consumes a great deal of energy… And that is now far more expensive.”

Anaerobic digestion

A promising alternative can be found in the Po Valley, in Vellezzo Bellini, 30 kilometres south of Milan. Here, anaerobic digestion is used to extract minerals from organic waste that can replace the chemical substances required in fertiliser. This helps break the traditional vicious circle where waste flows are returned to the land. This renewable fertiliser works just as well as the linear variant according to a study by the University of Milan. And the environmental gains are impressive, not least because the biogas used during the digestion process is sufficient for the total energy needs. The Italian parliament has now introduced a law making it compulsory to replace synthetic fertiliser with organic alternatives.