The philosophy of the farm has been inspired by the concept of circular economy. All the different activities are interconnected, the output of certain ones become the inputs of others. The aim of this internal organization is to maximize efficiency and lower the environmental impact making the farm sustainable.
The most important sustainable practices are as follows.
Biogas renewable energy production
The farm has a renewable energy Biogas plant on site which can produce up to 400kw of electric energy per hour. The electricity produced is used to power the farm and cheese factory which absorb up to a maximum of 20% of the daily production, the excess energy is sold to the national grid.
A biogas plant is a facility where organic materials are degraded by several types of microorganisms in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic digestion) and turned into biogas. Biogas mainly contains methane gas which is used to fire a turbine engine that produces electricity and heat.
The organic materials used in this case are manure, dedicated crops, whey from the cheese factory and other agricultural waste product as the by-product of olive oil production.At the end of the digestion process, the by-product of biogas production is called digestate. Digestate is an organic fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
All the digestate produced is used to fertilize the farmland used to produce fodder and silage increasing the fertility of the soil and reducing the need for chemical fertilizer.
No tillage farming / Sod-seeding
No tillage farming is a technique employed in what is known as “conservative agriculture” and consists in sowing crops without disturbing the soil through tillage.
No tillage presents environmental and economic benefits. It greatly reduces the operations farmers perform on the land, reducing work time and fuel consumption.
By avoiding to disturb the structure of the soil, sod seeding eliminates soil erosion, improves the filtration of and conservation of water, increases the organic matter content and the biodiversity within the soil itself.
The yields obtained with no tillage farming are slightly lower than conventional farming, but the economic and environmental costs are way lower so the net result is positive on economic and environmental grounds.
- reduces the direct energy consumption (fuels and soil improvers) and indirect consumption (consumption of machines and tools) and, with them, the CO2 emissions deriving from agricultural practices;
- promotes the accumulation of organic matter in soils, improving the state of chemical and physical fertility and limiting the risks of landslides and surface landslides;
- reduces the surface erosion of the soil (water and wind) by up to 90%, thanks to the mulching effect of crop residues and cover crops;
- allows repopulation of the microflora and telluric microfauna;
makes it possible to use water resources more efficiently, reducing soil evaporation by up to 70%;
- it contributes to improving the agricultural carbon footprint, both because it reduces energy consumption (emissions) and because it favors the accumulation of carbon in the soils (sink effect).
- it allows to manage the fertility of the soil more rationally and offers, in a medium-term perspective, the possibility of modulating the use of mineral fertilizers.http://www.aipas.eu/index.php?mod=05_Semina_su_Sodo
Drip feed irrigation
During the spring and summer months, rainfall in maremma is scarce, this makes irrigation necessary to grow summer crops like corn which form the basis for the feeding of the buffaloes.
La maremmana farm uses drip irrigation for its summer crops.
Drip irrigation is a technique with which water is dripped slowly to the roots of the plants from a system of tubes placed on the surface of the field. This form of irrigation greatly reduces the quantity of water used and allows to lower the cost for the farm and lower the use of water thus benefitting the community and the environment.