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Swine Cluster 4 (2023-2028)

Activity 5 | Environment

Improving Swine Manure-Digestate Management Practices Towards Carbon
Neutrality With Net Zero Emission Concepts

Project Lead: Rajinikanth Rajagopal, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Status: Ongoing

Why is this project important?


Canadian agriculture contributes approximately 8.1% to Canada’s total GHG emissions. Nationally, swine manure is estimated to emit 1,700 kiloton CO2 equivalent of methane annually, which is more than is produced by cattle or dairy manure in Canada. However, there is great uncertainty in these emission estimates due to the lack of precise Canadian-specific data. Analysis of greenhouse gas (GHG emissions) in the Canadian swine sector found that CH4 emissions from manure were the largest contributor to the overall emissions, followed by emissions from energy use and crop production.


While the management of manure can be very demanding and expensive for swine operations, it can also be viewed as an opportunity for GHG mitigation, as manure storage is an emission source built and managed by swine producers. Moreover, the majority of CH4 emissions from manure occur during a short period of time in the summer, which can potentially be mitigated with targeted intervention. Finally, the methane potential of manure can be harnessed through anaerobic digestion (AD) systems to produce renewable energy that will displace fossil fuels and further reduce the carbon footprint of pork production. AD or anaerobic digestion systems are a process by which organic materials are broken down by micro-organisms.



What will researchers do?


  • Quantify baseline emissions from Canadian commercial swine operations.


  • Determine the efficiency of manure additives at reducing CH4 emissions from swine manure and digestate (i.e., digested material after AD process).


  • Evaluate AD parameters for reducing emissions from digestate and maximizing energy potential from actual swine manures and biomass mixtures.


  • Explore complementary technologies for improving digestate-nutrient management to reduce carbon intensity (CI) (a measure of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases per unit of activity) for biogas production.



What will be the benefit of this research?


Researchers will identify and develop manure management strategies adapted to Canadian swine farms with an aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and net-zero emission targets by 2050. This project will allow the Canadian swine sector to assess the actual baseline emissions and to furnish a scientific assessment of technologies that offer a number of benefits: reduced emissions from manure storage throughout the manure utilization chain through treatment (primarily by AD; digestate storage and spreading), ensured sustainability, and improved resource utilization and recycling.


In tandem with understanding baseline emissions, it is important to evaluate emission mitigation options, and this study will facilitate that process. Manure additives have the potential of reducing manure methane emissions. Additives can be deployed relatively quickly, enabling near-term emission reductions while biodigesters are being built. Furthermore, additives can be a long-term solution at farms where biogas is not feasible (e.g., when it’s too far from a central digester). Similarly, after biodigestion, additives can also be used to further reduce emissions from storage to minimize the carbon intensity of the bioenergy.


Ultimately, researchers hope to impact the adoption of management techniques, which are beneficial to the environment, to help improve social acceptance, and contribute to the growth of the pork sector.



What has been done so far?


In the first year, instrumentation was installed at swine facilities in Manitoba to measure methane emissions and temperature. Real-world emission data is being collected from in-barn and outdoor storages to understand actual baseline emissions and influencing factors. Laboratory analyses are ongoing, and the results will be available at the end of a 20-week study in 2024-25.


Project status: Currently in progress. Results expected in 2028.




  • Andrew VanderZaag, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

  • Bernard Goyette (Co-PI), AAFC (Sherbrooke Research and Development Centre (RDC))

  • Aaron J. Glenn, AAFC (Brandon RDC)

  • Roland Kroebel, AAFC (Lethbridge RDC)

  • Michael Fruci, AAFC (London RDC)

  • Guylaine Talbot, AAFC (Sherbrooke RDC)

  • Candido Pomar, AAFC (Sherbrooke RDC)

  • Isabelle Breune, AAFC (Sherbrooke RDC)

  • Aline Remus, AAFC (Sherbrooke RDC)

  • Julie Brassard, AAFC (St-Hyacinthe RDC)

  • David Pelster, AAFC (Quebec RDC)

  • Shanwei Xu, AAFC (Morden RDC)

  • Stéphane Godbout, Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement (IRDA)

  • Kari Dunfield, University of Guelph

  • Xin Zhao, McGill University

  • Karen Haugen-Kozyra, Viresco Solutions

  • Xiaomei Li, Viresco Solutions

  • Laetitia Cloutier, Centre de Développement du Porc du Québec (CDPQ)


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