CANADA: The scoop on poop: innovation cleans up manure's image
Posted: May 31st, 2009 - 2:41pm
Manure has a PR problem. Mention it and everyone gets squeamish because they associate it with contamination and disease.
But it's not manure that's the problem, it's our attitude toward it, says George Lazarovits, a senior research scientist for Agriculture Canada.
``We have to stop calling it waste and treat it like one more important element to recycle. We need to stop sprinkling it on the surface of soil where it can't do much good,'' said Lazarovits. ``Handled differently, manure is a valuable resource for replenishing our soil.''
For the last seven years, Lazarovits has been researching how the fatty acids found in pig manure can stop the spread of Verticillium Wilt, commonly known as potato scab. His findings contradict standard wisdom that manure actually contributes to the disease. But his research has confirmed that when applied to acidic soil with a pH no higher than five, pig manure has the ability to kill human and animal pathogens.
Lazarovits hopes his research will help develop a product for commercial use.
``Pigs eat mostly soy and corn and 60 per cent of the nutrients in their food end up in their poop. Why not recycle that back into the soil rather than treating it as a waste problem?''
Cow manure is also undergoing a transformation in Ontario. For years, the telltale sign you had left the city was the smell of cow manure. But a technology originating in India is turning it into odourless money-maker.
India has about 2.5 million biogas plants supplying 57 per cent of the energy for the country. China has 15 million homes using biogas as their principal source of energy.