2016 was a fantastic year for Pacific Environment’s involvement in the Agriculture sector. Here is an update of some of our key projects and studies.
We would also like to take this opportunity to say that we look forward to working with you in 2017!
The Pacific Environment Team
Research and consulting for the livestock industry
Pacific Environment staff have been working with the intensive livestock industry for over 15 years performing both research and consulting projects.
Whilst the meat chicken and egg industry has been growing steadily over time, changes in the Australian dollar along with other factors including grain prices and export demand has seen expansions in the feedlot industry, along with proposals for new or expanding piggery operations.
Lower odour emissions in Egg Production
Pacific Environment has performed a number of air quality assessments for layer farms in the last year, including sites in Queensland and New South Wales. Whilst the conventional shed operations were assessed at a number of sites, the most notable change we saw was the movement towards free range layer operations. These typically have smaller sheds, which are dispersed across a property.
With regard to emissions from layer operations, we have collected data at a number of farms and compared this to the research data. What we have found is that whilst the relationship between measured temperature and ventilation rate compares well with the literature, the odour emission rates are sometimes much lower than that in the literature. The reason is unclear, but the test data we have for a number of farms is showing this consistently.
Growth of the Meat and Poultry Industries
2016 saw continual growth in the meat chicken industry across Australian. According to the ACMF, feed conversion improvements has seen a steady growth in meat chicken production in Australia no only in terms of more farms, but that less feed is used per bird to achieve the same final bird weight.
There has been a lot of talk about RSPCA management. This in simple terms has seen the stocking densities in sheds drop by around 20% over time. The lower density combined with improved feed conversion has led to odour emissions (as measured at many farms in Queensland and New South Wales) being lower than historical data.
Project work completed by Pacific Environment includes sites in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales in areas as diverse as Rathdowney, Griffith, and Blanchetown. These included farms ranging from 240,000 birds up to over 1 million birds.
As part of our work, our team also performed assessments on breeder and breeder rearer farms. These farm are part of the overall process, which produces chicken for the meat chicken farms. We also assessed a chicken abattoir in South East Queensland.
Geordie Galvin and Robin Ormerod were both involved in court appeals during 2016 for the agricultural sector, with Robin working on the Strathfield appeal near Tamworth, and Geordie working on a number of appeals within South East Queensland.
New MLA feedlot odour model published
The biggest change seen in recent years with regard to assessment odour emissions from feedlots was the publication of the MLA Feedlot odour emissions model. Robin Ormerod, Geordie Galvin, Dr Peter D’Abreton and Dr Li Fitzmaurice were all involved in the devlepoment of the model.
Unlike fixed buffer methods, which are conservative, the MLA method allows a site to examine the influence of site management changes with a view to minimising the potential for emissions. The key factor is the depth of the manure on the pads, along with the moisture content. This is obviously influenced by rainfall. Therefore, by improving site management with a view to minimising wet manure, emissions are decreased, and the potential for a feedlot to expand is increased.
Assisting in applications for expanding piggeries
With low grain prices, and the demand for pork meat being high, in part due to elevated beef prices, Pacific Environment worked on a number of applications for new or expanding piggeries this year. Sites we assessed included two sites in Southern New South Wales as well as two sites in Southern Queensland.
Unlike many of the older piggeries, new and expanding piggeries tended to cover their primary ponds. This has two benefits, first, the gas from the ponds is used for heating and/or electricity production. And secondly, it reduces odour emissions from the piggery. This means that expanding piggeries can potentially increase pig production by offsetting increased emissions from sheds via covering ponds.
Pacific Environment Limited changes name to EnviroSuite Limited
In December 2016, Pacific Environment Limited announced a re-branding of the public company to a new name, EnviroSuite Limited. The new company name, EnviroSuite (ASX:EVS), is an extension of the organisation’s key product offering; an environmental monitoring and analytical software as a service distributed under the same name.
In light of the name change, all Australasian operations of EnviroSuite Limited will continue to operate under the name ‘Pacific Environment’ with little change to current branding.