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International Programs News & Views Volume 15

May 1999 

Environmental Center for Livestock Waste Management- Taiwan


In the past few decades, three major worldwide trends have emerged in livestock production:

  1. A shift from small to increasingly large-scale operations.
  2. An increase in production density (the average number of head per production unit).
  3. A decrease in the supply of land to treat/utilize waste.  

These trends exist both in Asia and the U.S. and have created enormous environmental pollution concerns in water and land ecosystems.  The present livestock waste treatment systems, however, are not adequate to keep pace in the 21st century in land-short regions of Asia and the United States.  New, innovative, cost-effective livestock waste treatment systems are required to address public and industry concerns and constraints on livestock production.


Under the umbrella of the U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership (U.S.-AEP), a team of U.S. technical experts from five U.S. universities (Purdue, Oregon State, North Carolina State, Iowa State, Illinois Institute of Technology) and the USDA are cooperating with the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (NPUST) in Taiwan to design and establish the “Environmental Center for Livestock Waste Management” (ECLWM).  The equipment for the innovative new system and facility has been contributed by U.S. equipment manufacturers, thus providing an opportunity for U.S. industry, as well as U.S. universities and USDA, to be key players in technology development and transfer.  The Equipment Manufacturer’s Institute (EMI) in Chicago, Illinois has hosted several meetings of the core technical team and provided significant support and coordination in obtaining the equipment donations.

The Center is based at NPUST, which is located in Taiwan’s Southern Pingtung County.  It is owned and operated by NPUST to benefit Asia via the demonstration of innovative 21st century U.S. technologies in livestock waste handling, treatment, and disposal both in Asia and the United States.  It will become a recognized leader in the transfer of realistic environmental protection practices and cost effective solutions for the future of sustainable agriculture.  Although the initial focus of the project will be on swine waste systems, eventual expansion into poultry and cattle waste systems is envisioned in future years.

Partnership Activities

In April 1997, in Taipei, the U.S. core technical team and Taiwan swine waste experts, including representatives from NPUST, met to present scientific papers and engage in technical discussions to engineer innovative swine waste treatment systems which are efficient, cost-effective, and recover nutrients for reuse.  That session was followed by a second international symposium held in Honolulu, Hawaii.  In addition to those who participated in the first symposium, experts from Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand attended to share their perspectives on the growing livestock waste problem, focus on solutions that the Center can bring to their economies, and explore opportunities to host a livestock waste management satellite demonstration system in their respective countries/regions.

On May 25, 1998, in a ceremony held at NPUST, a Memorandum of Understanding with NPUST was signed by representatives of the five universities involved in the project.  Several dignitaries from Taiwan, including Paul M.H. Sun, National Policy Adviser and Shian-Numg Lin, Vice Chairman, Council of Agriculture, attended and made presentations.  Following the ceremony, a working session was held for the core technical team and NPUST faculty to finalize the details of the treatment system.

The Treatment System

The purpose of the ECLWM is to demonstrate new and/or enhanced process technologies to yield secondary products, i.e., energy, feeds, fertilizer, custom composts and bio-solids, and to provide system recycle water or discharge water that meets or surpasses regulatory standards.  This is to be accomplished with process system design and equipment that is economic within given operational-sized and site-specific parameters.

The overall process schematic is based on wastes produced from an equivalent 240 sow farrow to finish unit estimated at 8,000 gallons per day at approximately 2.2% total solids.  In addition, a 500-head grower-finisher building will be added to the pig production training center.   About 25% of the waste flow will be directed through the existing waste treatment system.  Daily storage volume will be incorporated to allow for recycle water and secondary treatment and product recovery.  Dairy, beef and poultry wastes from other sites at the Center will be utilized in later stages, as other process technologies become available.  

Also, off-Center sites may be utilized for specific processes and equipment.  Primary treatment processes involve use of a high-rate fixed film reactor with solids recycle for increased solids retention time in a sequencing mode with a downstream sequential batch reactor (SBR).  The anaerobically digested effluent will be received into a sequential batch reactor for aerobic processing.  The decant liquid will flow to a storage for recycle and other uses.  Activated sludge will be wasted periodically back to the anaerobic system or to secondary product recovery.  Process flow will allow for variable loadings or by-pass of either anaerobic or aerobic systems to a storage tank which will be equipped with a floating prop aerator unit for added recycle water treatment, if needed. Solids composting, processing and utilization to develop value-added products will be added in a second phase.

Future Activities

Construction of the ECLWM is currently underway.  A start up date is anticipated in August 1999.  Plans are being made to hold a third International Symposium at NPUST in September 1999 to demonstrate the initial operation of the system.  It is anticipated that annual symposia will be held to continue dissemination of the information gained by operating the system.  In addition, an introductory training course on the importance of developing effective swine and livestock waste management techniques will be conducted four times during the Center’s first year of operation.  All activities of the Center will be guided by recommendations by an International Advisory Committee (ITC), which will meet on an annual basis.  The ITC will be multilateral in nature, but the majority of its members will come from the U.S. and Taiwan to reflect the two biggest equity holders in the Center.

USDA participation in the development and future operation of the ECLWM will allow refinement of technology that could serve to address many of the issues related to livestock production and associated animal waste management that are currently being raised here. Animal waste issues currently faced by Asian countries are not significantly different than those that are evolving in the U.S.  By working together, associated environmental concerns can be addressed on a global basis -- which is the purpose of the U.S.-AEP. 

Author:  Barry Kintzer (retired), National Environmental Engineer, Conservation Engineering Division, Washington, D.C.

Editor:  Gail C. Roane (retired), International Programs Division