Closing loops with Nutri2Cycle for a truly circular economy

Published on
December 3, 2018

During the next four years, 19 organisations from 12 EU countries, amongst them Wageningen Environmental Research, will work together to provide an essential contribution to circular economy by closing nutrient loops in the framework of the Nutri2Cycle project. Tackling the existing nutrient flow gaps in Europe will help decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduce soil degradation and improve EU independence for energy and nutrients.

Improved systems for sustainable farm production

Nutri2Cycle will provide important developments for the sustainable and efficient management of our natural resources. European agriculture is still characterized by a high overall contribution to GHG emissions and inefficient recovery of carbon and re-use of major plant nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). The Nutri2Cycle project will assess the current Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Carbon (C) flows looking into existing management techniques in different farms across Europe and analysing their related environmental problems.  

“The recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus in farms can be significantly improved by creating better synergies between animal breeding and crop production,” says Jan Peter Lesschen of Wageningen Environmental Research. “These improvements will facilitate the return of carbon to soil and reduce GHG emissions, which could be combined with the production of energy for self-consumption on-farm.”

The Nutri2Cycle project will target the whole value chain from farmers to end-users. The results obtained in the targeted farms will be spread at regional, national and European level throughout a comprehensive network of regional operational groups, National Task Forces and European stakeholders. Jan Peter Lesschen: “During the first stage of our project we will re-design, test and implement more mature and sustainable farm business models for nutrient recovery and recycling. In a final stage, we will assess how the products obtained through the identified business models can aim for labelling and reach end-users.”

In addition to the input for the agro-business sector, Nutri2Cycle will also align itself with relevant EU environmental policy positions to provide scientific support on effective regulatory frameworks to reduce emissions and increase self-reliance of Europe for food, energy and nutrients in the next century.  

A comprehensive network of nutrient recycling experts

The project brings together leading experts in the field of nutrient cycling actively involved in previous national and European projects, as well as in the EIP-Focus Group on Nutrient Recycling coordinated by the European Commission. The project consortium is composed of 19 partners from 12 EU countries, including research institutes and universities, farmer groups, agro-business experts and EU NGO’s promoting circular economy.