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Re-Defining Confined Livestock Farming: Making Carbon Work for Us Bruce T. Bowman Expert Committee on Manure Management Canadian Agri-Food Research Council Presented at: CARC Annual Meeting Ottawa, Ontario April 21, 2005. Presentation Objective

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Re-Defining Confined Livestock Farming:Making Carbon Work for UsBruce T. BowmanExpert Committee on Manure ManagementCanadian Agri-Food Research CouncilPresented at:CARC Annual MeetingOttawa, OntarioApril 21, 2005


Presentation Objective

To demonstrate the central role of manure processing & farm bio-energy systems for revitalizing rural economies

- GHG’s

- Odours- Pathogens

- Deadstock




- Conservation

- Recycling

- Nutrient availability

A.D.Manure Processing


Economic Benefits

Rural Society Benefits

Farm Bio-Energy

priority issues for manure management
Priority Issuesfor Manure Management

Three priority issues to manage:

  • Nutrients
  • Odours
  • Pathogens

............................. but also…….

  • Water volumes
  • Carbon = Energy  $$$
conserving nutrients gaseous nitrogen losses from manure
Conserving Nutrients:Gaseous Nitrogen losses from Manure

In this section I will be developing linkages between nutrient conservation/recycling and manure processing.

  • Two major loss pathways:
    • As volatile ammonia (NH3)- Adjust pH to near 7.0 to minimize ammonia losses- Rapid losses from freshly-exposed manure
    • As nitrous oxide (N2O) - Processed manure  less N2O emissions following land application – 50% less C (energy) for microbes)
trends in the fertilizer industry post wwii 1945
Trends in the Fertilizer Industry-- Post WWII (1945) --
  • Cheap & plentiful mineral fertilizers helped spur intensification and specialization in production agriculture after 1945.
    • Cereal production (cash-cropping) is often separate from livestock production, relying only on mineral fertilizers.(Mixed farming systems tend to be more sustainable).
    • Intensification has created some regional nutrient surpluses(Quebec, N. Carolina, Chesapeake Bay area, Lower Fraser, BC).
    • Consequence:Nutrients in livestock manures (originating from imported feeds)not recycled back to source for next cash-crop production cycle.





Cereal Production

Nutrients O.M.



Local Farm



Recycling Nutrients & Organic Matter

Nutrient inputs





Nutrients & O.M. NOT recycled

Regional nutrient excesses

reasons to recycle livestock nutrients
Reasons to Recycle Livestock Nutrients
  • Many confined livestock operations import more nutrients than they export, resulting in localized nutrient accumulations.(US studies - NE, WA, PA) … not sustainable in long term.
  • Can’t continue increasing N loadings in environment & maintain current nitrate water quality standards.
    • Human activities doubled global N fixation rate in 20th century.(Barton & Atwater, U.B.C., 2002)
  • In many countries, P is considered a non-renewable resource – finite supply, some sources have high heavy metal contents (e.g. Cd in phosphate from Idaho).
whole farm nutrient balances budgets
Whole Farm Nutrient Balances(Budgets)
  • Balancing Nutrient INPUTS & OUTPUTSat farm-scale or at small watershed-scale.– Next stage in Nutrient Management Planning & Source Water Protection.
  • As more precise nutrient management planning is implemented, many farmers will discover nutrient surpluses somewhere within their land base.
  • Recent studies in U.S.A. show that majority of farms studied have nutrient surpluses,esp. Nitrogen. (INPUT/OUTPUT > 1.5)(Koelsch & Lesoing, 1999; Cogger, 1999)
managing on farm nutrient surpluses
Managing On-Farm Nutrient Surpluses
  • Three Options:
    • Reduce nutrient inputsto balance nutrient exports from the land base(e.g. improved feeding strategies – nutrient use efficiency e.g. phytase).
    • Increase land basefor applying manure nutrients (buy, rent more land or contract for exporting excess manure;Exporting liquid manure nutrients < 15 km radius (economics).
    • Export surplus nutrientsfrom the farm in the form of value-added products(new revenue source - organic fertilizers/amendments).
exporting surplus livestock nutrients
Exporting Surplus Livestock Nutrients
  • The need to export surplus nutrients will increase with further intensification of livestock operations.
  • Conditions for exporting manure nutrients:
    • Odour-free
    • Pathogen-free
    • Dewatered (dried) for transportation

Manure processing can address these issues.

what is manure processing
What is Manure Processing?
  • …. “Treating the entire manure volume” …. to reduce odours & pathogens.Two best technologies:
    • Anaerobic digestion – high cost, greater revenue
    • Composting– low-cost, limited revenue
  • Manure processing can provide the farmer withincreased flexibility for managing surplus nutrients, by remediating key environmental problems.
why digest manure potential benefits

Reduce odours & pathogens- flexibility to export surplus nutrients

Conserve nutrients (N)- reduce mineral fertilizer use

Reduce gaseous emissions- GHGs, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide


Renewable energy generation- energy independence

Export surplus Livestock nutrients

Emission reduction trading credits

Tipping fees – food-grade wastes - 20 – 25% energy boost

Why Digest Manure?Potential Benefits


  • Reduce siting / zoning problemsRegain public support
  • Opportunity for new rural partnerships
balancing issues in a sustainable farming operation

Yield / Productivity

Environmental Issues

Societal Concerns

Balancing Issuesin a Sustainable Farming Operation
  • 1. Yield/Productivity (economics)2. Environmental Issues
  • Both are science-based


Since 1970s  2-D

  • 3.Societal Concerns
  • Perception-based, emotional
  • Can over-ride other 2 factors.
  • Opposition difficult to reverse once initiated

Since 1990s  3-D

anaerobic digestion a few facts
Anaerobic DigestionA Few Facts
  • Mimicking fermentation in a ruminant stomach.(most digesters are mesophylic ~ 37°C – body temp.)
  • Kills weed seeds – reduces herbicide use.
  • pH often increases about 0.5 unit during digestion.
  • Closed system– no nutrient or gaseous losses (e.g. N) - closer N:P ratio than with raw manure – better for crops
  • About 50% of carbon  biogas(CH4 + CO2, 65:35, tr. H2S); - (nutrients in more plant available, predictable form) (~ 25% C blown off conventional slurries by bacterial decomp.)
anaerobic digestion more facts
Anaerobic Digestion…….. More Facts
  • Certain antibiotics can HALT digestion processes
  • Solids range: up to ~ 13%(easily pumpable)
  • Hydraulic Retention Time:(processing time):- 20–35 days @ 37°C
  • Odour Reduction:~ 90% or more
  • Pathogens Reduced to:~ 1/1000 – 1/10,000 (mesophylic);- Eliminate pathogens by pasteurizing (1hr @ 70°C)
managing dead stock a waste nutrient issue
Managing Dead StockA Waste + Nutrient Issue
  • A waste issue that now costs the farmer to manage – end products have lost their value since BSE crisis – can’t recycle animal protein through feed systeme.g. bonemeal has lost much of its former value
  • Current disposal methods have limitations
    • Burial – limited capacity, point source pollution potential
    • Incineration – N and C lost, minerals?; emission issues renewable energy recovery possible
    • Composting – cost recovery for composted solids
managing dead stock a waste nutrient issue17
Managing Dead StockA Waste + Nutrient Issue
  • Anaerobic Digestion – best solution for deadstock and for animal rendering – 2 valuable end products
    • Renewable energy recovery(heat, electricity)
    • Organic solids end product (fertilizer, amendment)
  • Conserves N, P & some C for recycling back to land
  • Minimizes odour problems; eliminates pathogens
  • Pre-Treat = shredder + Pressure/Temperature- treated waste virtually all digestible - possible elimination of BSE prions
barriers to adoption of anaerobic digestion technology
Barriers to Adoption ofAnaerobic Digestion Technology
  • Investment, Incentive & Payback Issues
  • Managing Regulatory Issues
  • Developing Reliability, Trust & Expertise
  • Managing Complexity
overcoming barriers to adoption of anaerobic digestion technology
Overcoming Barriersto Adoption of Anaerobic Digestion Technology
  • Investment, Incentive & Payback Issues
    • $300K - $5M, depending on scale of operation– Plant Life = 20 – 30 yr before reconditioning – Payback = <10 yr (electricity, solids sales, emission credits)– Breakeven – 110 cow dairy; 1200 hog; 25,000 poultry
    • Policy Issues– Need consistent policies & incentives across 3 levels of government- Environ. Loan Guarantees (manage risk) - Tax Incentives for green electricity
    • Feasibility Assessment - How does the farmer put a realistic value on odour & pathogen-free manure products?– changes from societal opposition to opportunities for new partnerships.
overcoming barriers to adoption of anaerobic digestion technology21
Overcoming Barriersto Adoption of Anaerobic Digestion Technology
  • Establishing Revenue Streams
    • Electricity Purchase Agreements– Net Metering, Dual Metering – Peak Demand Generation– Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan - leading provinces– may be sufficient to be energy independent; delivered power ~ 2 x generating costs (ON = 12 - 15¢/kwh)
  • Sale of Processed Solids/ Org. Fertilizers– excess nutrients exported – promotes nutrient re-use
  • Emission Trading System currently developing- sell credits for reducing emissions- current value of e-CO2 in Europe ~ $10/tonne
  • Tipping Fees for Receiving Food-Grade Wastes– boost biogas output (20 – 30%)  increases revenue
overcoming barriers to adoption of anaerobic digestion technology22
Overcoming Barriersto Adoption of Anaerobic Digestion Technology
  • Managing Regulatory Issues
    • Electrical generation– interconnects / net meteringPower Utilities starting to change policies for small renewable energy generators (up to 500 kw)
    • Off-farm biomass inputs(boost biogas production)can result in C. of A.s – regulations being changed to allow <20% food-grade wastes
    • Managing emissions / dischargesBiogas flare, fugitive GHGs, liquid discharges
    • Fertilizer/amendment products - quality assurance, certification; labeling requirements
overcoming barriers to adoption of anaerobic digestion technology23
Overcoming Barriersto Adoption of Anaerobic Digestion Technology
  • Developing Reliability, Trust & Expertise
    • Small installed digester base in Canada(12 – 18 in advanced design or already built)
    • Limited knowledgeable Canadian design/build firms- limited track record
    • Demonstration Program – AAFC/NRCAN - 3 yr - Energy Co-generation from Agricultural/Municipal Wastes (ECoAMu)4 digesters (AB – Beef; SK – Hogs; ON – Beef; QC - Hogs)

ECoAMu Program On ManureNet

overcoming barriers to adoption of anaerobic digestion technology24
Overcoming Barriersto Adoption of Anaerobic Digestion Technology
  • Managing Complexity
    • A.D. adds yet another new technology to be managed by farmer– Time; Skill-sets
    • Service agreements
      • Co-Generation – Power Utility – electricity export
      • Remote monitoring & process control in real-time – practical technology now available

- 15% feed costs

Revenue #2









Revenue #1





Organic Fertilizer


Integrated Livestock Farming System

Closed Loop Single Farm Energy Centre

Nutrient inputs

<20% Off-Farm

Food-Grade Wastes








Bio-ethanol plant


(Veg., Flowers)

Fish Farm

Non-Ag Uses

Home gardens



Local Farm

Revenue #3




Resource Centre



Clean Water





A Centralized Co-op Rural Energy System

Potential Components







Food GradeOrganics




(Veg., Flowers)

Fish Farm


Bio-ethanol plant

Wet Distillers Grain - 15% savings

challenges facing confined livestock operations
Challenges Facing Confined Livestock Operations
  • Increasing price volatility(The China factor)
  • Less reliable supplies(Declining fossil reserves)
  • Will also increase N fertilizer costs


Environment / Health


  • Increasing regulations – nutrients, pathogens
  • Municipal waste issues (biosolids)
  • Rendering / deadstock – limited uses/value
  • GHG emission reductions – Kyoto protocol
  • Increasing livestock intensities – odour
  • Continuing vulnerability of farm incomes
  • Increasing costs of compliance
re defining confined livestock farming
Re-DefiningConfined Livestock Farming
  • Future livestock operations will be structured around bio-energy  energy independence using co-generation technologies.
    • Facilitates conservation and recycling of resources(nutrients, carbon = $$$)
    • Income stabilization through diversification  (new revenue streams independent from commodity prices!)- Green Electricity - Processed manure solids- Emission Trading Credits - Co-located integrated industries- Tipping fees for food-quality wastes (energy boost)
re defining confined livestock farming29
Re-Defining Confined Livestock Farming
  • Substantially reduces existing environmental issues– reduced odours, pathogens  diminished societal concerns– greater flexibility for applying/selling processed manure
  • Strengthens rural economy utilizing more local inputs (employment, resource inputs – biomass crops)- Municipality can be a partner (wastes, buy energy)- Farmer co-ops take increased control of rural businesses ADD value to products BEFORE leaving farm gate- Reduced transportation costs for manufacturing (bio-based)
farm bio energy centres as integrators facilitators
Farm Bio-Energy CentresAs Integrators & Facilitators


Manure solids



Tipping fees

GHG reductions









export &











Clean water


Farm Bio-Energy

A.D. Processing



Rural Revitalization


Organic wastes

Co-located industries

Local biomass inputs

in summary
In Summary
  • A.D. manure processing is the key to:
    • Remediating environmental problems(odours, pathogens)
    • Improving community relations
    • Providing flexibility for managing surplus nutrients
    • Generating bio-energy(thermal, electrical) energy independence & rural business opportunities
  • Economics are rapidly improving, but policies, incentives & regulations need to be coordinated across 3 levels of gov’t to facilitate adoption of this technology.
  • Efforts to increase technical support and assistance are required to foster adoption of the technology.
resource information on
Resource Information on

  • 6,000 external web links
  • Several hundred digital technical/research reports
  • Manure Treatment
  • Digester Compendium
  • Nutrient Recovery
  • Ammonia Emissions
  • Nutrient Management
  • Environmental Issues
  • GHG Emissions
  • Odour Management
  • Land Application
  • Storage & Handling
  • Housing / Feedlots
  • Feeding Strategies
  • Codes, Acts, Regulations
  • Health & Safety
  • Links
  • Digital Library
  • Expertise
  • Environmental Archive (>165 digital reports)
micro chp c ombined h eating and p ower distributed power generation
Micro CHP(Combined Heating and Power)Distributed Power Generation

Electricity + Heat generated at each residence

Small engine + generator  replace furnace & water heater

85 % efficiency


micro chp c ombined h eating and p ower advantages
Micro CHP(Combined Heating and Power)Advantages
  • More efficient use of resources (15% vs 60% loss) (39 vs 85 % efficiency)
  • Micro CHP units run on natural gas or biogas
  • Excess electricity exported to grid (10 kw units - $$)
  • Blackout & Terrorist proof (totally distributed generation)
  • Significant GHG reductions
  • Almost eliminate line losses (electricity used on-site)
  • In Ontario – 2 million homes would produce 10,000 Mw – equivalent to several nuclear power plants
  • No environmental assessments required – minor impacts
  • Several thousand units being tested in Europe & Japan; USA senate holding hearings on technology potential