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Testing begins in project to reduce pig farming's ammonia emissions

21st Aug 2023 / By Alistair Driver

Testing has begun as part of a major project that is aiming to reduce the environmental impact of ammonia emissions from livestock. 

PigProGrAm 1Ammonia-harvesting technology has been put in place at the pig farm running the trials under the PigProGrAm scheme, which is backed by £600,000 of government money. The proect has brought farming and engineering expertise together to demonstrate a farm-focused solution for the harvesting of green ammonia from pig waste that could also lead to the creation of hydrogen, a valuable tool in the fight against climate change.

The research project team consists of a consortium of industry leaders – AHDB, Beta Technology, the University of Leeds, Duynie Feed, a commercial pig unit in North Yorkshire and the newest partner, Membracon, which specialise in water treatment, clean water recycling and effluent solutions.

After installing the equipment in July, Aman Sohl from Membracon said: “Our innovative Downflow Gas Contactor (DGC) is a patented, multiple award-winning technology that excels in a wide variety of gas separations applications, such as industrial carbon capture, as well as biogas enhancements.

“The DGC will be used on this ambitious project to help generate a route for the livestock sector to become truly sustainable; considering the true practices of a circular economy, while retaining a sound financial profile to continuing operations.”

Harvesting ammonia from pig waste means that ammonia emissions will be lower. In addition, the byproduct from the process creates a resource that can be used in several ways, such as producing a high-quality fertiliser as well as potentially generating hydrogen.

Zanita Markham, projects and engagement relationship Mmanager at AHDB, said: “We hope that the PigProGrAm project will be the first stage of a larger demonstration of the potential of this innovative approach to harvesting green ammonia from livestock and will contribute to the UK meeting its net-zero emission target.

“The project is a step forwards in helping reduce the environmental impact of pig farms which not only enables us to keep meeting environmental targets but could have a significant positive impact on the public perception of pig farming.”

Agriculture is a major source of ammonia emissions, which can impact negatively on biodiversity through nitrogen accumulation on land and acidification of water courses. This proect is looking at multiple areas of pig production, including feed, to help create a more sustainable livestock industry in the UK.

The PigProGrAm – Developing a Circular Economy for UK Pig Production Through Green Ammonia Harvesting – project has received funding from the Government’s Farming Innovation Programme which supports ambitious projects to transform productivity and enhance environmental sustainability in England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors, whilst driving the sectors towards net zero. The funding is delivered by Defra in partnership with UK Research & Innovation (UKRI).