Harper Adams Pioneers Bioreduction of Pig Carcases

UK - Researchers at Harper Adams University College are hoping to develop a new method of on-farm storage and bioreduction that can be used in the disposal of fallen pig carcases.
calendar icon 10 November 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

By using anaerobic digestion they hope to develop a less expensive method that allows farmers to bioreduce their fallen livestock on-farm and dispose of it at a later date.

Marie Kirby, postgraduate Research student, said, "Anaerobic digestion is quite a simple process involving the transformation of organic material into biogas, by a mixed bacterial culture without the presence of oxygen.

"This biogas contains methane and if this is of a sufficient quantity — above 60 per cent — it can be used to produce heat or electricity.

"Here, with the help of some digestate, we are using 12 ten-litre custom-built anaerobic digestion vessels to digest various diets including sugar beet pulp and meat. We're also feeding these vessels at different levels and at two temperatures to determine the ultimate operating conditions required for the effective fermentation of meat."

Experiments are being conducted to determine the suitability of anaerobic digestion, by monitoring the degradation of carcass material, quantity and quality of biogas, fermentation products and the level of pathogen destruction.

Samples are taken from a variety of ports on the vessels, an internal blade system stirs each vessel and a collection pipe allows the biogas to be monitored.

"This research began more than two years ago and prior to this we surveyed livestock farmers to find out what their current methods of disposal are and how they would like to progress. Anaerobic digestion was one of methods that they would like to use on-farm.

"If we gain enough supporting evidence then we can address the European Union and convince them to consider anaerobic digestion as method for on-farm storage for livestock carcases, because at the moment it is illegal to use it for fallen livestock, although Harper Adams has a special licence for this.

"At the moment the project is sponsored by BPEX and Harper Adams and hopefully it can continue with an on-farm pilot to see if it really is an effective method for pig farmers."

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