Integrated Framework for the Design of Intensive Cattle and Agricultural Operations Towards Circular Economy.
- Type: Conference Presentation
- Conference Type: AIChE Annual Meeting
- Presentation Date: November 8, 2021
- Duration: 25 minutes
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- PDHs: 0.50
Integrated farming and livestock systems simulate natural energy and nutrient cycles by converting cellulosic ruminant feed into protein and recycling nutrients from livestock manure into the cell structure of crops (Oltjen and Beckett, 1996). Nowadays, these integrated systems refer to small organic farms (extensive livestock) where such integration consists of a grazing activity where manure is deposited naturally (Reddy,2016). To extend this integration to intensive systems of thousands of animals, it is necessary to control and understand how the nutrients are transformed in the digestion process of the animals. The target is to maintain the balance between the nutrients necessary for the crops and those supplied because a small imbalance in nutrients can lead to soil depletion or over-fertility.
In this work, an integrated system comprising intensive livestock and agriculture is compared with traditional systems, from various points of view, economic and environmental. A mathematical optimization framework is developed including models for estimating energy and nutritional requirements of beef cattle, for waste treatment (anaerobic digestion), to recover nutrients, and for the management of crops. This integrated model allows relating the formulation of the diet of the animals with the composition of their feces, the necessary cultivation area (13 different crops are considered), required raw materials (water, chemicals, additional fertilizer, energy, supplements, etc.) as well as carrying out the economic and environmental evaluation of the entire system. Through the application of the model to a representative case study where the complete 6-year life cycle of 1000 calves is studied, a 49% reduction in the environmental impact of the combined agriculture-livestock system has been achieved with an economic benefit 4.7 times larger than the decentralized case, showing that not only integrated systems are economically viable but also that the environmental impact of two of the most polluting economic activities carried out by human beings can be reduced, making a correct formulation of the feed and optimal crop selection. Besides, the nutrients recovered represent 17% of Nitrogen, 5% of Phosphorous, and 26% of Potassium with respect to the necessary nutrients.
The authors acknowledge JCyL for a Ph.D. fellowship. M.L.C.
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