Fruit tree grubbing waste a potentially significant resource for the bioeconomy

On 19 October, the municipality of Sudanell, in the important fruit-growing region of Segrià in Lleida, hosted a conference that addressed changing the management of fruit tree grubbing waste to enable it to be availed of in the bioeconomy.

Every year, up to 60,000 tonnes of waste wood from stone fruit trees are burnt in the open air in the fruit-growing areas of Lleida, with the consequent emission of pollutants into the atmosphere. 

According to AgroBioHeat estimates, the grubbing of fruit trees, olive trees and vineyards generates more than 2.5 million tonnes of wood waste per annum in Spain, which is eliminated by open-air burning. This agro-biomass has an energy content equivalent to 8 million barrels of oil, which would have a value of 400 million euros and could heat 3 million homes in Spain.

Daniel García, head of Innovation at AVEBIOM, points out that the AgroBioHeat Agrobiomass Observatory has documented several exemplary cases of the use of this waste for energy in industry, such as the ENCE and NUFRI energy plants. However, he highlights the fact that, “speaking of value chain proximity and more fractioned volumes of use, grubbing waste is hardly availed of, except to obtain firewood”.

He adds that “facilitating the use of grubbing waste on a local scale requires the implementation of a new agronomic practice that is advantageous for farmers and allows biomass to be obtained with a format, quality and price suitable for creating new uses. This is what is being achieved in Sudanell”.

Sudanell is the headquarters of a pilot project being undertaken by a local farmer, along with with two companies – Serrat Trituradoras and ISVED Bioenergía. The main goals are to define a business model capable of transforming grubbing waste management into an opportunity for the bioeconomy, to improve agricultural practices and to achieve the decarbonisation of the rural economy through local initiatives.