Sometimes the only way to find a solution is to get a little dirty, and as conveyor belts are called for in unexpected places, we will in today’s blog explore a pigsty which is no exception.
There is no doubt, being a pig comes with its own challenges. No fainthearted creature can hope to maintain the hygiene of a muddy home with all its unwanted fumes and fragrances. Perhaps more concerned with cleanliness than one might think, pigs are quite particular in their bathroom practices, always depositing their waste at a distance from where they lie down. Even piglets, only hours after birth, will leave their nest to go find a more appropriate puddle for their toilet.
Although despite the pigs’ best intentions, pork farmers must still face the foul odors and unsavory climate created by their swine. With nearly two billion pigs inhabiting the world, this is no small problem. The pork industry is looking to find ways to improve production through innovative housing, and that is where Habasit comes in. The company is equipped with belts that aren’t afraid of doing a dirty job – even when it means rolling through the muck and the mire.
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StarPlusstal is a new integral, sustainable pigsty which allows more room for the natural behavior of the animals while also extracting valuable minerals from waste product and conserving energy. Through ventilation and the use of Habasit conveyor belts, an optimum climate is created so that the ammonia in the atmosphere is reduced by 70%.
Ammonia is produced when urine and manure are mixed. “We want to prevent this and therefore we try to separate the urine and manure as quickly as possible. For this purpose, we thought of a transport system for collecting the waste that runs below the slatted floor on which the pigs are walking. The manure belt has the shape of a kind of ‘chute’ and the slightly sloped angle makes the urine automatically run into a catch basin. Urine can be perfectly reused since it contains nitrogen which is good for the grassland.”
The belt system transports the manure to a mini-digester. “Pure, solid manure can be transported very well when there is no longer any urine present. It contains 40% more gas than the old manure containing urine. This means that more gas is available for the manure digester and more energy can be generated.”
One of the cooperating partners in the project is Wopereis Staalbouw from Doetinchem, who, among other things, designs and builds sheds for the agricultural sector. “Pigs get more space in the StarPlusstal, both inside and outside,” explains Hans Hutten, the manager of Wopereis Staalbouw. “The entire shed is naturally ventilated and prevents harmful emissions, such as ammonia. In short, no ammonia and no energy wasting extractor system is needed.”
The right belt for breathing easy
Finding the right belt turned out to be quite a difficult job, according to Hutten. “Such a belt must be resistant to extreme adverse influences, such as manure and urine. However, the price had to be reasonable, as the margins in the pig industry are low.” Wopereis contacted Habasit and a close collaboration ensued. “Together we thought about solutions and eventually one of our existing belts appeared to perfectly meet the requirements of Wopereis,” says Habasit’s Account Manager. “An extra advantage was that we did not have to make large investments in extra product development. Instead we were able to invest in assisting Wopereis with the testing of the first sheds.”
By working together in this way, Habasit and Wopereis demonstrated that they are not afraid of innovative thinking. Hutten emphasizes, “Obviously, this manure solution can work very well in other sheds, such as for chickens. We have also created a calf shed with the same belts. The Habasit product has clearly added value to our livestock housing building department.”
Farmers aren’t the only ones who are happy about this collaboration. One can imagine that pigs are breathing a little easier (and oinking a little louder) with all that fresh air in their pigsty.