Show side menu

The Life MEGA project begins, objective: to reduce pollution on pig farms

· High levels of contamination from intensive pig farms pose a risk to animal and worker health, and affect surrounding populations

· Ammonia emissions are expected to be reduced by 70% and suspended particles by at least 80%.

Most European pig production is intensive, with a high density of animals in large stables. This results in high levels of pollution in the form of ammonia, methane and other volatile compounds, which pose a health risk to both animals and workers, and poor air quality also affects the surrounding populations.

This problem will be addressed by the European project LIFE MEGA, which aims to develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of an online tool for continuously monitoring and supervising the concentrations of ammonia, methane, suspended particles and volatile organic compounds in pig stalls, in order to keep them below a specified value.

Two different technologies will be tested in pilot farms for pigs in Italy and Spain: a prototype of a wet scrubber to improve indoor air quality and animal welfare; and a prototype of a dry scrubber, currently used in other industrial sectors, to clean pig stalls.

A 70% reduction in ammonia emissions on pig decks is expected to be achieved through the use of the wet scrubber and a reduction of at least 80% in suspended particles; the concentration of volatile organic compounds in the pig houses and the surrounding environment is also expected to decrease, as well as the secondary formation of suspended particles, with a greater effect during the winter, with a reduction of up to 25% thanks to the reduction of ammonia emissions.

This is a key job that works towards better sustainability of the agricultural and livestock sector. A sector that accounts for around 95% of ammonia emissions in the European Union and is the largest source of PM2.5 (suspended particles of less than 2 microns), with levels of at least 40% in many countries. In addition, the livestock sector generates 35% of the methane produced by human activities.

IRTA participates as a partner in this project with the researchers August Bonmatí (from the Integral Management of Organic Waste program) and Emma Fàbrega (from the Animal Welfare program). On 29 November, the kick-off meeting of the project took place in Milan. The project will last 3 years, until 30 September 2022.

LIFE MEGA (Smart computing system to monitor and abate the indoor Concentrations of NH3, CH4 and PM in pig farms) is coordinated by the University of Milan and also involves the Italian companies Nuvap and Rota Guido.