Institute of

Agricultural Technology

Environmental Technology – Livestock husbandry

The livestock in Germany represents an important economic factor with an animal population of 12.7 million cattle, 28.1 million pigs, 39.6 million laying hens and more than 60 million broilers. It is the basis for the production of high quality and low-priced foods.

Biological operating trickle bed filter for the cleaning of exhaust air from piggeries
Biological operating trickle bed filter for the cleaning of exhaust air from piggeries (© Thünen-Institut)

But livestock is also connected with considerable environmental impacts which contribute to air pollution (odors, particulate matter, bioaerosols, ammonia) on the one hand, but also to pressures of soils and seas (eutrophication, acidification, changes in biotypes and plant populations) and ground waters as well (nitrate accumulation). Odors appear to be pestering, especially in the near range of animal facilities. Particulate matter and bio aerosols may endanger the human health by affections of the respiratory tract and allergies. Ammonia contributes to over-fertilization of nitrogen limited biotypes (moors, neglected grasslands, forests, Flora-Fauna habitats) and to acidification of seas and soils. In the frame of European conventions for air pollution control Germany has committed to continue reducing the national ammonia emission caused by animal husbandry which contributes 90 % of it. The social acceptance of livestock has decreased in the recent years on a variety of grounds. Besides the named issues the intensive livestock is felt not to be appropriate to species on the one hand and responsible for the spread of multi-resistant microorganisms. The research and development work of the Institute of Agricultural Technology is focused on the wide reduction of the environmental impacts caused by livestock, but taking economic frame conditions into account. Focal points are the measurement of gaseous and particulate emissions, especially bioaerosols, the emission reduction by improving the constructional and technical livestock conditions and the management as well as the development and assessment of emission reduction by exhaust air treatment technologies.