LIFE-ARIMEDA - Ammonia emission reduction in Mediterranean agriculture with innovative slurry fertigation techniques

LIFE16 ENV/ES/000400

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Contact details:

Contact person: Dolores Quilez
Tel: 34976716358
Email: dquilez@aragon.es

Project description:


Some 94% of European ammonia (NH3) emissions stem from agriculture. Scientific studies have estimated that spreading manure accounts for 24-29% of those agricultural emissions, or some 790 kilotonnes per year.

According to the European Environment Agency, Spain was one of six EU Member States that, in 2014, exceeded the ammonia ceiling set out in the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive. The country had the largest increase in ammonia emissions in Europe between 1990 and 2011. One of the main reasons for this is an increasing number of pig and poultry facilities that do not implement measures to limit emissions.


The goal of the LIFE-ARIMEDA project is to demonstrate reductions in ammonia emissions through fertigation techniques using raw and digested pig slurry. Fertigation is the injection of fertilisers or other water-soluble products into irrigation systems. The innovative aspect of the project is its combination of various existing low-emission measures in specific fertigation systems based on pivot and drip irrigation. The project will evaluate different techniques to determine the most cost-effective fertigation schemes, using diluted liquid fractions of pig slurry and digestate that permit scheduled fertiliser applications according to crop demand.

Large-scale field trials will enable the project to demonstrate environmental benefits, replicability potential, and make a technical and economic comparison with splash plate application. This is usually used as baseline for assessing emission reduction efficiencies from slurry applications performed with other techniques. Specifically, the project will treat 11 661 m3 of pig slurry in Spain and 4 043 m3 of digestate in Italy and test these liquids in optimised fertigation techniques on 141 ha.

The project will:

  • Increase nitrogen use efficiency using precision fertigation schemes, managed and based on an optimised nutrient recycling process;
  • Assess the technical and economic feasibility of these techniques in comparison with the reference system;
  • Assess the beneficial effect for water, air and soil protection avoiding any potential pollution swapping;
  • Assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of synthetic fertiliser replacement; and
  • Develop and assess pig slurry and digestate separation prototypes that could improve the performance and value of fertigation techniques.

LIFE-ARIMEDA will directly implement the Water Framework Directive by improving the quality of water bodies. Outcomes will also assist in the implementation of the Industrial Emissions Directive, and extend the scope of the existing BREF on Intensive Rearing of Poultry and Pigs by providing information on low-emission pig slurry and digestate spreading techniques. The project will also help develop new European legislation, especially the new Regulation on organic fertilisers resulting from the Circular Economy Action Plan.

Expected results:

  • A 90% reduction in ammonia emissions in subsurface drip systems and a 50% reduction in emissions in center pivot systems, combining four low-emission manure spreading measures: rapid incorporation techniques, solid/liquid separation, dilution in irrigation systems and a timing management system (17.245 kg N);
  • A 34% reduction in particulate matter due to the ammonia emission reductions achieved with the fertigation techniques;
  • An 85% increase in nitrogen use efficiency, by means of timing management systems that are adapted to crop requirements and designed to minimise losses. This will reduce potential eutrophication and nitrate leaching risk related to nitrogen;
  • Replacement of 27 636 kg of nitrogen from synthetic fertilisers based on the fertilising units provided with the liquid fraction of slurry and digestate, which has an estimated production impact on climate change of 169 tCO2 eq/year. The benefits will be intensified because fertigation techniques facilitate topdressing with slurry liquid fractions and split dressings according to the timing of crop needs;
  • A guide to Good Fertigation Practices to help farmers to carry out agricultural fertigation techniques consistently; and
  • Increased stakeholder capacity to implement these techniques on other farms with similar characteristics through the creation of a dynamic platform able to transfer good practices and the results of the project.

  • Results


    Environmental issues addressed:


    Industry-Production - Agriculture - Forestry
    Waste - Agricultural waste


    fertiliser‚  Agriculture‚  agricultural waste‚  irrigation

    Target EU Legislation

    • Water
    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
    • Waste
    • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
    • Industry and Product Policy
    • Directive 2010/75 - Industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (24.11.201 ...

    Natura 2000 sites

    Not applicable



    Coordinator Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón
    Type of organisation Research institution
    Description The Agrifood Research and Technology Centre of Aragon (CITA) is a public body of the Government of Aragon committed to research, development and technology transfer in the field of agriculture. CITA aims to intensify innovation policies and technological development in all aspects of the agro-food sector.
    Partners Agriter Servizi Srl, Italy Riegos Iberia Regaber, S.A., Spain Associazione Regionale Allevatori della Lombardia, Italy UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO, Italy ACQUAFERT S.R.L., Italy Asociación de Defensa Sanitaria Nº 2 Comarcal Porcino, Spain Mecàniques Segalés, S.L., Spain


    Project reference LIFE16 ENV/ES/000400
    Duration 01-SEP-2017 to 30-JUN -2021
    Total budget 2,608,324.00 €
    EU contribution 1,522,293.00 €
    Project location Aragón(España)


    Read more:

    Newsletter "Newsletter n. 1 Abril 2018: LIFE ARIMEDA Los prim ...
    Poster "Riduzione delle emissioni ammoniacali nella agric ...
    Poster "Riduzione delle emissioni ammoniacali nella agric ...
    Poster "Riduzione delle emissioni ammoniacali nella agric ...
    Poster "Riduzione delle emissioni ammoniacali nella agric ...
    Poster "Riduzione delle emissioni ammoniacali nella agric ...
    Poster "Riduzione delle emissioni ammoniacali nella agric ...
    Poster "LIFE ARIMEDA LIFE16/ENV/ES/000400 Reducción de la ...
    Project web site Project's website
    Project web site - 2 Project's Twitter page


    Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version