The first ever ManuREsource conference was held in Brugge, Belgium on December 4-6, 2013. At least 210 delegates from 25 countries gathered to the historical Provincial Court with 75% of them from research and industry and the rest from policy making and NGOs.
The keynote presentations presented examples of the challenges with manure management and the importance of Nitrates Directive in steering manure management. All countries presented had the problem of regional surplus manure, but the solutions differed. In the Belgian Flanders and the Netherlands much of the manure processing was nitrogen removal (nitrification-denitrification to gaseous nitrogen), manure combustion (e.g. 1/3 of Dutch poultry manure) or export of manure into other regions with great cost due to the heavy nutrient surplus. In most other countries, the surplus was less immense and the need to process manure into transportable products to spread the nutrients more evenly within the country and manure use on arable farms was more of the challenge to realise. An important issue all-round is also to decrease feed import, increase local feed production and thus improve regional nutrient balance.
The message from EU Commision was that the enactment of the Nitrates Directive calls for solutions on manure processing, integrated with preventive measures also in the other steps of the manure management chain. Scientific data from feeding and excretion to application of manure and manure-based fertiliser products is required to implement the Directive. Still, the research was urged to move forward without policy interference.
The solutions proposed in ManuREsource were tightly in line with Baltic Manure recommendations, including:
- less import of animal feed to improve regional nutrient balances
- manure standards to be created to ensure synchronised manure quality data
- manure processing to be developed
- business and market around manure utilisation to be supported
- the entire manure chain to be considered in all solutions
With respect to the Baltic Sea Region, the time to act is now. The intensifying animal production must not result in such surplus areas that nutrient removal and thus loss from the nutrient cycle is the only solution to meet the requirements from the legislation. Policy makers, researchers, farmers and businesses need to work together and find different solutions for different cases.