From waste to health: Livestock manure in rural China turned into good use

Updated 2017-12-28 13:30:18 CGTN
For the world's most populous nation, tackling pollution in rural areas, especially pollution from agricultural sources, will be a top priority in the coming years. /CGTN Photo

For the world's most populous nation, tackling pollution in rural areas, especially pollution from agricultural sources, will be a top priority in the coming years. /CGTN Photo

China will review this week the country's rural and agricultural work in 2017 and map out plans for the coming year.

Increasing efficiency through technological upgrades will make the sector more sustainable. But authorities are now also looking to make use of parts of the business that used to be reserved for disposal.

Anyone who has ever gone near a hog farm will tell you the smell is terrible. The smell comes from hog manure, which is stored in underground pits. When Spring plowing comes, the hog manure will be sprayed on farmlands as fertilizer without any processing or treatment.

Now, a hog farm in northeast China's Liaoning Province is taking a different approach.

"We are making good use of waste. The feces run through a drainage ditch, and we then collect it and use it as organic fertilizer, which significantly contributes to the fertility of the soil," the farm's manager Zhang Xichun told CGTN.

Livestock waste is a major source of noxious gases and harmful pathogens. China's livestock produces about 3.8 billion tonnes of manure each year, more or less the amount of coal consumed nationwide. But nearly 40 percent of this waste stays untreated and poses a long-lasting challenge to the environment.

Wang Dongning raises chickens, and he recently invested in a livestock waste collecting system. He believes it's money well spent.

Wang told CGTN that the system is costly, but if the waste can be treated immediately, the chance that the chickens get sick is low. In the long run, his profit margins will go up.

During this year's central rural work conference, officials will discuss issues such as modernization, and the competitiveness of farm products. For many, food safety is one of the top concerns. The concern now is making sure more of the country's farm waste is treated properly, which will lead to safer food.

Back to the hog farm, manager Zhang thinks livestock farms have to reach a certain size or scale in order to make the utilization of waste feasible. And problems exist in smaller farms that don't have the funds to realize the method, or the size of the farm is simply too small and the amount of waste not worth spending money on.

Livestock waste can be recycled by many modern ways, and for the world's most populous nation, tackling pollution in rural areas, especially pollution from agricultural sources, will be a top priority in the coming years.

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