Can pigs spend more time outdoors if they pee and poop in a special toilet? Are we able to develop a super-smart manure robot capable of reducing methane emissions from manure by tens of percentages? The ministry of LNV (Dutch acronym for the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality) has made millions of euros available for research on these types of innovative barn systems. Wageningen University & Research is involved in 19 of the 22 allocated subsidies with a joint value of 14.5 million euros.
‘This shows that there is a pressing need for concrete solutions to reduce emissions in livestock farming and to make the sector more sustainable’, says Ingeborg de Wolf, head of the Livestock & Environment department at Wageningen Livestock Research. ‘With our partners, we work on innovative and sustainable solutions for the livestock sector.’
The projects span almost the full range of livestock farming activities: dairy and meat cattle, dairy goat farming, and pig farming each have unique challenges in reducing emissions. The research is thus conducted in all sub-sectors.
Pgs outdoors more frequently
One of the larger research projects is the intelligent pig toilet within the Pigster concept. The smart device stimulates pigs to urinate and defecate separately, which allows the urine and manure to be separated right at the source. This results in significantly lower emissions.
The intelligent pig toilet makes it possible to keep the pig styes and outdoor barns cleaner, as they no longer urinate and defecate there. Thus the pig farmers are able to allow their pigs more time outdoors, which offers a solution for animal and environment-friendly accommodation systems such as Pigster.
Significant methane and ammonia reductions
Duurzaam Den Eelder (Sustainable Den Eelder) is another large project. This innovative barn system reduces ammonia emissions from manure by over 60% and methane emissions by over 95%. The methane is applied towards green energy, significantly cutting back the CO2 footprint of Den Eelder. Central to this concept is the development of a manure collecting robot, which will collect large amounts of data in addition to manure. The hypothesis is that this robot will keep barn floors cleaner than the conventional slurry scraper systems. This increases the efficacy of urease inhibitors and thus improves the ammonia reduction yield.