Pig Farming

A sow and piglets at an intensive pig farm

 

Eco Innovation has identified issues in the pig sector and is exploring the feasibility of organising structured research on those issues. More information, links and publications will be available soon. The two research issues identified are:

 

 

1) Animal Waste

This potential research topic addresses the difficulties faced by farmers (specifically in Brittany, France) with regard to implementing the European Union Nitrates Directive. In this region, pig farmers face an absolute threshold limit in the amount of pig slurry they are permitted to use as fertiliser for their crops. Therefore, many pig farmers face the paradox of being forced to destroy slurry exceeding this threshold volume, when in fact they require even more fertiliser than they are producing. This constitutes a destruction of resources, and leads to farmers investing money to contruct plants for slurry destruction as well as spending large amounts on expensive synthetic nitrogen fertilisers.

Eco Innovation is investigating (with the assistance of intern Caroline Le Maréchal) possible regulatory solutions to this paradoxical problem, including revisions to the Nitrate Directive as implemented in Brittany. Further information will be available soon.

2) Stress Control

A second potential research strand is comparing husbandry strategies for curbing stress in pigs and improving animal health. Traditional practices addressed the problem of disease in pigs by giving animals preventative doses of antibiotics. However, as these antibiotics have recently been banned, new methods of improving pig health are needed. Eco Innovation aims to investigate alternatives to antibiotics to improve pig health while rendePiglets at an intensive pig farm ring pig farming more sustainable.

One factor that leads to poor health in pigs is environmental stress, particularly under intensive farming methods. This research topic takes a general approach to stress in pigs, exploring the causes of stress and its role in facilitating disease, as well as possible methods of reducing environmental stresses in order to improve animal health. This preliminary research has involved intern Aurélie Bellier with assistance from Sebastian Stumpf. It mirrors a research strand developped by Frédéric Morand around biostimulation in turf production, where stress control is also at stake.