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LIFE MEGA: Smart computing system to monitor and abate the indoor concentrations of NH3, CH4 and PM in pig farms

Starting date: 15/07/2019 End date: 14/07/2023
Programme: Integral management of organic waste

Financing entities:

The European swine production system is mostly intensive and has significant impacts on water, air and soil pollution. Most animals are bred in large scale pig sheds, and while pig feed is given in line with safety and fat quality standards, too little attention is paid to environmental aspects. This means that the air inside pig sheds contains high levels of ammonia (NH3), methane (CH4), particulate matter (PM) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The agricultural sector accounts for around 95% of NH3 emissions in the EU, and is the greatest source of PM2.5, with levels of at least 40% in many countries. Meanwhile, the livestock sector generates 35% of human-related CH4. Large numbers of pigs reared on big farms with high quantities of feed all contribute to the deterioration of air quality inside pig sheds. This poses a risk to the health of both animals and workers, and the poor air quality affects the surroundings in both rural and urban areas.

Objectives

The overall objective of the project Life-MEGA is to develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of an online tool to continuously monitor and maintain concentrations of NH3, CH4, PM and VOCs in pig sheds below a threshold value. Two different technologies will be tested in pilot pig sheds in Italy and Spain:

  1. A wet scrubber prototype to improving the indoor air quality and animal welfare, and
  2. A dry scrubber prototype, currently used in other industrial sectors, to clean pig sheds.

Specific objectives include:

  • help implement the UNECE Code of Good Practice for reducing emissions from agriculture by promotinglow-emission animal housing systems;
  • bring robust data to help expand the scope of the existing Best available techniques reference document (BREF) on intensive poultry and pig rearing;
  • replicate the proposed solutions in other European farms; use a life cycle approach (LCA) to evaluate the environmental impact of the whole swine production system to in order to avoid any pollution swapping and understand the environmental advantages and disadvantages of the proposed solutions.

Expected results:

    • 70% reduction in NH3 emission within the pig sheds by using the wet scrubber and at least 80% reduction in PM;
    • reduction of VOCs concentration within the pig sheds and the surrounding environment; and
    • reduced secondary PM formation, with the greatest effects during winter of up to 25%, thanks to reduced NH3 emissions.