Pigs - A most environmentally friendly industry?

UK - A vision of the pig industry as an environmental saviour was presented to NPA on Friday. Martin Barker, managing director of Midland Pigs, explained that even if every livestock farm in the country were closed, landfill and nitrates problems would not go away.
calendar icon 17 September 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

National Pig Association

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & Whitehall, and with processors, supermarkets & caterers - fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

  • Humans on our over-populated island would continue to convert food into nitrates, whether the food was produced locally or imported from Brazil.

  • Arable farmers would import more nitrogen to make up for the loss of locally-produced manures.

  • And the waste from food processors and retailers would continue to be transported to unsustainable landfill sites.
The solution, he said, was for government to promote biodigesters on modern greenfield-site pig farms. These would take the retailer and processor waste that would otherwise go into landfill.

They would also contribute green energy to the national grid, reduce energy costs on pig farms, and produce an odourless fertiliser to help reduce the country’s reliance on imported fertiliser and food.

There was emerging evidence that biodigester plants on pig farms could pay for themselves in under four years. But setting up a greenfield-site pig unit with biodigester was a huge investment, said Martin Barker.

He proposed a lobbying campaign to persuade government to help with planning concessions for biodigester projects on pig farm and to provide grand aid. And he suggesting NPA and BPEX should consider ways they could encourage and support new projects.

He pointed out that farmers did not have to go into new projects alone. Biodigester plant ownership and operation could be shared – perhaps even with an energy company.

And perhaps feed compounders could be involved in running mills on new units. These would be powered by energy from the biodigester and make diets for the farm, from cereals and pulses grown with liquor from the biodigester.

NPA and BPEX chairman Stewart Houston and BPEX research director Mark Wilson are to consider the proposals.

The pig industry has long had much greener credentials than it is given credit for. Every day it takes large quantities of human-food-quality co-products from food processors and converts them into fresh pork, thereby contributing to the national balance of payments and reducing the amount of ‘waste’ that would otherwise be tankered into landfill.

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