Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Creating Sustainability Model for Swine Production; Research Will Increase Productivity, Decrease Costs of Production

29.09.2011
A new tool created by University of Arkansas researchers and their colleagues will help hog farmers increase productivity, decrease costs of production and minimize the environmental impact of swine production in the United States.

With a total of $5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the multi-disciplinary team, which includes researchers at Purdue University and Virginia Tech, is developing an integrated management tool for swine production based on a comprehensive analysis of the many processes that comprise swine production – from crops used for feed to various methods of managing waste.

“A primary purpose of this work is to evaluate and mitigate the environmental footprint of swine-production facilities,” said Greg Thoma, professor of chemical engineering. “What action can we take to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from these facilities without making processes more expensive for the farmer? So we want to understand this impact and then come up with something that will enable farmers to make informed decisions about changes to production, such as breeding, feeding, waste-management and other practices. To do this, we must understand the entire system – or full life cycle – of swine production in this country.”

In line with global efforts to make agricultural processes more sustainable and to address climate change, the overall goal of the project is to experimentally evaluate and develop technologies that mitigate greenhouse gas-emissions. These technologies will support the development of an accurate and robust life-cycle analysis that will serve as a model to demonstrate the environmental impact of various changes to production. For example, in a project spearheaded by Charles Maxwell, professor of animal science, the model will show how manipulating the diet of hogs will affect the amount and type of crops grown to feed the animals, as well as carbon emitted from the animals through burping and flatulence.

The model is flexible and allows for geographic customization. It will consider factors including weather patterns and annual rainfall, which affect decisions related to heating and cooling and the amount of manure that can be applied to land without affecting water quality.

An equally important goal is to make swine production cheaper and more efficient, so the project also will include a life-cycle cost analysis. Directed by Jennie Popp, professor of agricultural economics, this analysis will measure the economic impact of process changes. To use the example above, the amount or type of crops grown to feed animals may increase or reduce the hog farmer’s feed costs, not to mention the impact to the soybean or grain farmer, who, as Thoma emphasized, is a critical part of the life cycle of swine production. The cost-analysis model will demonstrate the effect of changes made to the system.

“The beauty of these models is that the algorithms behind them will show what will happen, both environmentally and economically, if a farmer decides to change the diet of his hogs – to substitute amino acids for vegetable proteins, for example,” Thoma said. “What impact will this have on emissions? Will it increase production? The models will provide these answers.”

The work includes an innovative project in which researchers – Marty Matlock and Tom Costello, professor and associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, respectively – remove nitrogen and phosphorus from pig manure and then use these nutrients to grow algae as feedstock that can be converted into biofuel. Matlock will also manage research experiences for undergraduates to investigate how livestock production fits into the larger perspective of agricultural sustainability.

Each state – Arkansas, Indiana and Virginia – will have an extension component to communicate findings and benefits of the model and help producers apply the knowledge to make their operations more efficient and sustainable. Karl VanDevender, professor and extension engineer for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, leads coordination of extension education efforts. To learn more about what the UA Division of Agriculture will do to share the model with Arkansas producers, go to www.extension.org.

“Unlike most natural resources, agriculture is renewable,” Thoma said. “But current practices do not allow us to manage it as such. This is what we’re trying to accomplish, a system that is efficient, more productive and yet cheaper to produce, and less damaging to land, water and air.”

Funded over five years from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the project includes researchers from the University of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Purdue University, Virginia Tech and the private sector. As principal investigator, Thoma directs the overall project and also leads an interdisciplinary team at the University of Arkansas, which will receive approximately half of the total funding. The UA Division of Agriculture will receive $608,000, and the remainder will go to partner institutions.

CONTACTS:
Greg Thoma, professor, chemical engineering
College of Engineering
479-575-7374, gthoma@uark.edu
Marty Matlock, professor, biological and agricultural engineering
College of Engineering
479-575-2849, mmatlock@uark.edu
Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

Matt McGowan | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Light green plants save nitrogen without sacrificing photosynthetic efficiency
21.11.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Filling intercropping info gap
16.11.2017 | American Society of Agronomy

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>