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Pork Production: Alternative Technologies
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Best Management Practices
Environmental Impacts
Building an EMS
Alternative Technologies
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center - Annual Report
This report is the eighth in a series of Annual Reports describing annual activities associated wit...

Development of Environmentally Superior Technologies
Phase 2 Report for Technology Determinations per Agreements Between the Attorney General of North Ca...

Evaluation of Environmentally Superior Technology: Final Report
Swine Waste Treatment System for Elimination of Lagoons, Reduced Environmental Impact, and Improved ...

Solid Separation/Constructed Wetland System for Swine Wastewater Treatment
A report on the construction of wetlands as a waste management system for swine production.

Swine Waste-Management Alternatives

The objective of an animal waste-management system for confined livestock operations is to collect, store, treat, and use the manure efficiently in a manner that prevents contamination of water, soil, and air. Traditional systems for managing runoff and manure generated from confined-animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have utilized earthen storage basins functioning as runoff-control structures, manure storage basins, or anaerobic lagoons. These treatment or storage structures have made important contributions to cost-effective pollution control from livestock operations. However, traditional EPA/state regulatory approaches (i.e., non-discharge) have encouraged producers to use lagoons, earthen storage basins, and land-application systems in lieu of other treatment options that allow discharge to public water sources. This management style assumes that increased environmental stress from the growing size of the CAFOs can be addressed by expanding the storage size (lagoons, storage basins, runoff collection systems) and disposal (land application, evaporation) systems. Many of these systems may not provide the amount of environmental protection necessary to minimize groundwater impacts and reduce odor, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and other emissions.

Many CAFOs may realize environmental and economic benefits from adoption of alternative treatment technologies that may be more practical than acquiring additional land or excavating and managing larger lagoons. Swine waste management alternatives have resulted in a significant amount of research and demonstration projects from governmental and private organizations. Refer to the Iowa State University CAFO Fact Sheet, "Alternative Treatment Systems: Voluntary Alternative Performance Standards" at for a detailed discussion of this animal waste management approach. This guidance provides an overview of several options to consider in whole or partially to improve animal waste management for pork producers.

Swine Waste Management Alternatives:

Methane Recovery:

Methane recovery is often considered a reliable source for renewable energy as well as a means for handling manure solids and controlling odors on livestock farms. The feasibility of using such technology on Nebraska's livestock operations and the economic implications of doing so are addressed in the article located at


Six case studies are also presented in the following

document located at Examples of ambient-temperature, covered-lagoon digesters; heated mixed-tank digesters; and heated mixed lagoons are provided. Biogas recovery and its use in engine generators and boilers is also presented, including costs required for digester installation and operation.

Refer to EPA's site at to learn more about this greenhouse gas, its sources, and voluntary reduction programs.

Thermochemical Conversion of Swine Manure:

The Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research is researching options for an environmentally and economically sound technology to manage swine manure efficiently. The technology is the thermochemical conversion process of swine manure to a fuel product. Refer to for a detailed explanation of this effort.

Constructed Wetlands:

Constructed wetlands have received a large amount of attention as a component of a wastewater treatment system partly because of the potential to reduce the amount of land needed for spray-field application. However, questions exist about the long-term efficiency of constructed wetlands for swine waste treatment.





For more information, refer to'constructed%20wetlands%20swine%20waste'.



Hog Mortality Composting:

Traditional mortality disposal methods for pork-production facilities included burial, on-farm incineration, and transport to rendering plants. Originally, mortality composting was developed as a means of dead-bird disposal on poultry farms. More recently, composting has become an accepted method of dead-swine disposal in some states across the country. For pork producers who are willing to learn effective composting principles and who can provide adequate management, composting is an effective method of dead-swine disposal that is safe, biosecure, and environmentally sound.


Refer to, and for information on composting swine mortalities.

Manure Composting:

Composting is a natural aerobic process that stabilizes a variety of organic matter. It is one of the major recycling processes by which materials return to the soil in the form of nutrients available for future use. More recently, engineering practices have made it possible to convert poultry and animal waste into compost. To learn more, please refer to for information on this biosolids management option.


Vermicomposting is a process where earthworms and microorganisms convert organic matter into nutrient-rich hummus called vermicompost. The resulting vermicompost can be used as a soil amendment similar to conventional compost. Removing solids from a waste stream before they reach a lagoon for vermicomposting or composting reduces the lagoon loading and the potential for ammonia volatilization and odor. It also reduces the amount of land needed to apply the lagoon liquid. For guidance on converting manure to a marketable product via composting, refer to

North Carolina Agreement to Research Waste Management Alternatives:

In 2000, North Carolina's attorney general entered into agreements with Smithfield Foods and its subsidiaries and Premium Standard Farms under which the two companies consented to fund development of environmentally superior waste management technologies for use on the companies' North Carolina swine farms.

Environmental impacts related to current swine waste management systems were the driving force behind this research for alternative technologies. To be a successful alternative for the state's swine producers, the technology must be determined environmentally superior to current systems by an advisory panel and be economically feasible for pork producers.

A variety of alternatives for managing animal waste generated by pork production are discussed below. Those identified in the N.C. attorney general's agreement and others may provide a viable option for reducing environmental impacts from swine-farming operations. To read the report in its entirety, please refer to

Phase 1 Technologies:

Phase 2 Technologies:

Environmental Superior Waste Management (Phase 1 findings):

Two waste management technologies may be alternatives for the swine industry according to Dr. Mike Williams, a N.C. State University professor. These technologies have cleared a major hurdle toward being declared by the advisory panel as "environmentally superior" to the method now used by most North Carolina hog farms to treat waste. Refer to for more information.

Environmental Superior Waste Management (Phase 2 findings):

Researchers have cited three additional alternatives to dispose of hog waste compared with the current pit-and-spray system, according to Dr. Williams, who is leading this project. Two of the technologies involve burning the solids and using the ash as fertilizer, and the third is a solid composting method. To read the entire article, refer to

Environmental Superior Waste Management (Phase 3 findings):

To read the final report presented by Dr. Mike Williams, please refer to


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Hub Last Updated: 3/18/2009