Innovative Technologies for Managing Manure (Part 2): A National Challenge to find affordable ways to recover nutrients from manure

Animal Manure Management March 20, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Purpose of the Panel:

What if there was a technology that could capture all the phosphorus in livestock manure and turn it into lightweight fertilizer? What if farmers could not only afford this technology, but they would buy it because they could then sell the fertilizer? What if you came up with an idea for such a technology that could then get piloted at one of the largest farms in the country?

Nutrient pollution is considered one of America’s most widespread and challenging environmental issues, costing at least $2.2 billion each year in freshwater systems alone. We know that livestock and poultry operations take on considerable challenges and costs to manage over a billion tons of nutrient-laden manure in the U.S. each year. However, this challenge also presents a tremendous opportunity—the nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) contained in animal manure are valuable as fertilizer, and the environmental benefits could be substantial if we developed more efficient and economical ways for producers to manage and transport nutrients to where they are needed most. Producers would be incentivized to adopt such technologies if they could improve their bottom lines by converting manure into fertilizers that are more usable and lightweight, and therefore marketable.

Innovators are developing technologies that can recover significant percentages of N and P from animal manure for beneficial uses, but these technologies currently face some challenges. Few producers are using them because they are generally expensive, and the markets for the co-products they yield are immature or non-existent. More research and development is needed on technical and economic aspects so the technologies can generate the specific products that the market is calling for.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is partnering with animal agriculture stakeholders to challenge innovators to develop affordable technologies that can help manage manure and produce valuable, environmentally beneficial products. We’d like you to be part of this effort.

What will the audience take away from this presentation?

EPA is developing a national innovation challenge for Manure Nutrient Recovery Technologies. National competitions provide exciting platforms for the government to find solutions by tapping into the ingenuity and creativity of crowds. This session will build upon the previous panel, Innovative Technologies for Managing Manure (Part 1): The importance of markets for co-products and innovations for farms of all sizes, which highlighted challenges and opportunities associated with nutrient recovery technologies. Here we will continue the discussion by brainstorming approaches for hosting a national innovation challenge to find more affordable, effective technologies to manage nutrients in animal manure and convert them into marketable products. How would you shape a competition to inspire transformative innovation? This discussion will welcome the expertise and perspectives of the whole room on ways to develop a meaningful and impactful challenge.

Who is presenting?

This session will be moderated by Hema Subramanian (Environmental Protection Specialist) and Joseph Ziobro (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Research Participant) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water in Washington D.C. Hema and Joseph are part of the Rural Branch in the Water Permits Division of EPA's Office of Wastewater Management. Their team is responsible for implementation and oversight of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and also engages in voluntary initiatives with the animal agriculture industry to promote technologies and best management practices for managing nutrients in manure. Many of the panelists from the previous session, Innovative Technologies for Managing Manure (Part 1): The importance of markets for co-products and innovations for farms of all sizes, will continue to participate and offer their perspectives in this brainstorming session.

Hema Subramanian

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Hema Subramanian is an Environmental Protection Specialist in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Water Headquarters in Washington, DC. Hema has been a member of the Rural Branch in the Water Permits Division of the Office of Wastewater Management since 2010, and works primarily on issues related to animal feeding operations, on both regulatory National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting implementation and non-regulatory voluntary initiatives. Prior to joining EPA, Hema gained ten years experience working on environmental, agricultural, and health issues at a variety of nonprofit organizations and pesticides data analysis for EPA as a contractor. Hema received a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Psychology from Pitzer College in 1999 and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Management with University of Maryland University College.

Joseph Ziobro

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Joseph is a Research Participant at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) research program at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Office of Wastewater Management. He supports the implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program for concentrated animal feeding operations. Joseph also supports collaborative initiatives with the animal agriculture industry that protect and restore water quality. In 2013, Joseph earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), with a focus on coupled human and natural systems.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.