Combined Regenerative Organic Food Production

Technology demonstration

The agriculture of the future varies between the much needed improvement in sustainability and the equally important increase in productivity. Future agricultural systems must therefore meet several conditions.

These should

  • find a balance between intensive cultivation with high yield per unit area for effective food production and extensive land use for the conservation of natural resources,
  • put a stop to the consumption of finite resources for fertilisation,
  • and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and environmental toxins.

The idea of sustainable and low-emission crop cultivation using high-yield cultivation systems is quite similar to the concept of bioregenerative life support systems in space. In both cases, waste is considered to be a valuable raw material and is put to further use.

The C.R.O.P.® project combines knowledge from aerospace and the agricultural sciences to develop an agricultural system that optimises existing material flows and uses them more sustainably.

Livestock generate large quantities of manure, which is spread on a farm’s own land or used as fertiliser. Slurry spreading is a well-known source of pollution and therefore regulated by law. C.R.O.P.® aims to reduce emissions through the use of advanced microbial filter technology. The project includes a cascade in which the manure is first used as an energy source in a biogas plant. In the second step, the liquid fraction is separated from the digestate and further processed in an aerobic biofilter unit (C.R.O.P.® flter). This process creates a nutrient rich solution that, after sterilisation and concentration, is transformed into a high-quality fertiliser.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Jens Hauslage · E-Mail: jens.hauslage@dlr.de  · DLR.de/en