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 New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

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: Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses

Spectrally narrow x-ray pulses may be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means. This sounds surprisingly, but a team of theoretical and experimental physicists developed and realized such a method. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the x-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the x-ray pulse to the desired spectral region.

A team of theoretical physicists from the MPI for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg has developed a novel method to intensify the spectrally broad x-ray...

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New 3-D imaging reveals how human cell nucleus organizes DNA and chromatin of its genome

28.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heavy metals in water meet their match

28.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Oestrogen regulates pathological changes of bones via bone lining cells

28.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>