The extraction of bioactive substances and nutrients from olive mill wastes to produce biostimulants and biofertilizers, the valorisation of the lignocellulosic fraction to obtain biopolymers, and the recovery of bioenergy from residual biomass, are identified as new agroecological farming solutions to enhance the agroecosystem resilience under a circular economy perspective 


The development and application of innovative farming systems will ensure productivity, stability, resistance and resilience, avoiding disturbances on the long-term


Identification of high value ingredients in olive mill wastes and extraction for biostimulants and biofertilizers


Valorisation of the residual biomass after extraction of high-value bioproducts for biogas production


Yield stability and quality in comparison to standard farming systems under challenging environmental conditions

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4BIOLIVE approach and objectives

To this end, some measurable indicators will be used: nutrients recovery, increased resistance of plants to stress and soil fertility. Laboratory, greenhouse and field-scale responses to the adoption of these innovative practices will allow for monitoring their effects in terms of the environmental, but also economic and social sustainability. Hence, a multidisciplinary approach promoting the interaction of partners with different expertise will be followed. The final goal is to develop a new farming system based on the valorisation of olive-oil mill wastes.

The specific objectives (O1-O4) are:

O1: Identification of high value ingredients in olive mill wastes and extraction for biostimulants and biofertilizers.

Two types of olive processing (two- and three-phase systems), which differ in the amount and chemical composition of their respective residues, will be considered. Olive mill wastewater (OMWW), olive mill solid wastes (OMSW) and pomaces (POM), selected as the main residues of olive-oil chain production, will be characterized to optimize their further reuse. High-value compounds will be identified and extracted, taking into account their physico-chemical properties. In particular, specific classes of secondary metabolites acting as biostimulants, namely substances capable of promoting plant growth, biomass production and resistance to stress, will be obtained from olive mill wastewater, olive mill solid wastes and pomace, and characterized. The same extracts will be further processed to obtain biofertilizers, which are materials capable of improving soil fertility.

O2: Use of lignocellulosic fraction as biostimulant and biofertilizer.

Water soluble Lignin (WSL) obtained from olive mill solid wastes and pomaces will be processed to obtain a bioactive substance with humic-like effects for stimulating plant development and resistance to stress. Solid lignin will be purified, and lignin nanoparticles (LN) will be prepared and used as carriers for bioactive compounds (LN-PC) obtained in O1 to realize an efficient molecular vehicle to improve plant absorption. Lignin will also be used to produce biopolymeric compounds (BPC) with enhanced controlled-release capacities, to allocate bioactive compounds and nutrients, with the goal of obtaining slow-release materials to be used as biofertilizers and eventually as biostimulants.

O3: Valorisation of residual biomass for biogas and soil organic fertilizer production.

The residual biomass after the extraction of high-value bioproducts (O1 and O2) will be characterized and investigated as potential feedstock for anaerobic digestion and co-digestion, in order to produce biogas. Renewable bioenergy will be recovered from the residues generated in the previous processes. In addition, the anaerobic digestion effluent (digestate) will be analysed to evaluate the potential benefits of its agricultural reuse as organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.

O4: Evaluation of social, economic and environmental impacts in the Mediterranean area.

Potential socioeconomic and environmental impacts of the innovative bioproducts obtained will be evaluated by developing a methodology for the assessment of acceptability, feasibility and accessibility of the developed processes and bioproducts in comparison with current strategies and methods. The sustainability of all procedures and products will be assessed by using an LCA/LCC approach to study the environmental and economic performance and address technical work towards more environmentally-friendly solutions. The objective is to efficiently treat waste residues to obtain biofertilizers, biostimulants, biopolymers and bioenergy, with reduced environmental impacts. The social implications of the new bio-products and technologies will also be evaluated by using the social LCA (S-LCA) approach, i.e. a life cycle study in which social indicators are considered. Finally, the results of LCA, S-LCA and LCC will be analysed together to assess the global sustainability of the process. A multicriteria analysis (MCA) with all sustainability indicators to obtain a final value will be also taken into account.

List of products to be valorized

Target bioproduct Feedstock/original material Industrial application
Bioactive compounds Olive mill wastes Biostimulant and biofertilizers
Biobased lignin nanoparticles (LN) Olive mill solid wastes (OMSW) and pomaces (POM) Carrier for bioactive compounds
BPC (biopolymeric compounds) Biobased polymers and lignin Slow-releasing materials to allocate bioactive compounds and nutrients as biofertilizer and biostimulant
Biogas Residual biomass after high value bioproducts extraction Production of bioenergy, upgrade to biomethane
This project is part of the PRIMA programme supported by the European Union Any dissemination of results must indicate that it reflects only the author's view and that the PRIMA Foundation is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains