Stakeholder perceptions of manure treatment technologies in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain

Hou, Y.; Velthof, G.L.; Case, S.D.C.; Oelofse, M.; Grignani, C.; Balsari, P.; Zavattaro, L.; Gioelli, F.; Bernal, M.P.; Fangueiro, D.; Trindade, H.; Jensen, L.S.; Oenema, O.


Manure treatment technologies have been developed in Europe to better use animal manures and to reduce their environmental impact, but the adoption of these technologies in practice is regionally diverse and still limited. Also, little is known about the opinions of stakeholders towards manure treatment. This study aimed to identify stakeholder perceptions of (1) which factors can facilitate and hinder the implementation in practice, (2) which technologies have the most potential for successful adoption, and (3) how farm characteristics and scale of treatment operations affect priorities for technology adoption. This analysis used data from a survey of various stakeholders engaged in manure treatment in four European countries (Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) that have large areas of high animal density, but diverse socio-economic, political and environmental conditions. Pressure from governmental regulations was perceived as a key factor that stimulated manure treatment in all four countries (70% of respondents). Processing manure to produce bioenergy was considered important in Denmark and Italy, but less important in Spain and the Netherlands. The major barriers to technology adoption were related to economic factors -lack of investment capital (60% of respondents), high processing cost (52%) and a long payback period (45%), while there was relatively little concern regarding transport and noise burden and health risks. Slurry separation and anaerobic digestion were perceived to have the greatest potential for a common adoption. Other preferred technologies were more country-specific (e.g. acidification in Denmark, composting in Spain, and drying and reverse osmosis in Netherlands). Manure treatment was considered to be less applicable at small livestock farms. Separation, composting and acidification were perceived to be more applicable at farm scale, while drying, anaerobic digestion, reverse osmosis at large, industrial scales. Our results imply that manure treatment will remain a regional activity. Policy measures and outreach strategies to alleviate the main barriers to the adoption of manure treatment are suggested.