The NETFIB project (Valorisation of nettle fiber grown on marginal lands in an agro-forestry system) coordinated by the Chrono-Environment Laboratory of Bourgogne Franche-Comté aims to develop the production of nettle in agro-forestry system on marginalised land, to feed a sector in plain expansion, without accentuating the pressure on agricultural land.
The implementation of field trials will be done on 4 industrial sites, made available by the industrial partner INOVYN in France (St Symphorien sur Saone), Belgium (Jemeppe), Italy (Tavazzano) and Germany (Rheinberg). The productivity of nettle in agro-forestry system will be studied by the French (LCE & LIEC), Italian (UCSC) and Austrian (BOKU) partners. The quality and mechanical properties of the fibers produced will be studied by the French (FEMTO-ST) and German (ATB & HSB) partners. Finally, the study of the economic and social impacts, as well as the potential impacts on the environment will be coordinated by the English partner (R3 Environment).
NETFIB is therefore decidedly multi-disciplinary, combining material, environmental and human sciences.
NETFIB’s overall aim is to develop the capacity for farmers and other land managers to recover nettle as a fibre crop from marginal land, which would otherwise remain under-used.
We have started to test the hypothesis that nettle production under short rotation coppice can reliably produce harvestable nettle biomass. However due to the COVID crisis only poplar have been planted in 2020 at the experimental French, German and Italian sites.
We have started to test the hypothesis that the yield of nettle biomass in agro-forestry systems on marginal land can be enhanced by manipulations of soil and microbes. On-going experiments demonstrated the positive effect of organic amendments such as digestates. We produced a collection of nettle associated microorganisms from field sites.
To test the quality of nettle fibers, we developed mechanical extraction techniques for decortication and separation in lab-scale. We further develop specific tests to characterise the mechanical properties of single fibres and fibre bundles of nettles for the NETFIB project.
Concerning the sustainability assessment of the overall value chain, the nettle management option was found to be superior across most aspects of environmental and economic aspects of sustainability, and in overall terms for these two elements of sustainable development.
*At the time of the proposal. Please consider this data as an accurate estimate; it may vary during the project’s lifespan.
Total costs include in kind contribution by grant holders and can therefore be higher than the total requested funding.