We only have to look at the animal welfare movement over the last decade. Can we really say the animals have benefitted? Probably not much as they should have done….and if so where is the hard evidence. ‘Better chicken’ leans towards offering the birds a better life and there is some evidence to indicate this is the case. It also has managed to bring a sense of greater value to chicken, as the consumer pays more. Which is good. However, did anyone bother to assess the environmental impact of such an initiative, estimated at a 25-30% increase in carbon load per year? That’s potentially billions of tons of extra carbon a year if adopted mainstream.
Therefore, when it comes to saving the planet through air scrubbing, how are we going to get the consumer to pay for it and create a business model that would see farmers signing up? For this we need to bring all elements previously discussed together (Partial Air scrubbing, Subsidy, Energy recovery, Green Label premiums). Using Belgium as a good example of how this could play out.
Belgium is now discussing how it will meet its environmental targets for livestock farming by 2030. They have looked at other countries and decided to not follow, but to go down the road of de centralization. To achieve this they have decided on two things:
- Ammonia reduction target for a pig or poultry farm will be 60%, not the traditionally accepted 90%.
- Young farmers (under 40) get 40% subsidy on technologies adopted.
This means for a poultry house of 40,000 chickens.
- Cost of an ‘installed’ air scrubber – 75,000 euros
- 40% subsidy the net cost would be – 45,000 euros
- Running cost per year 5,000 euros
- Total cost over 5 years – 70,000 euros
- Premium payments of 5 cents a bird (known), in a house with an air scrubber. Return – 13,000 euros/house/year.
- Green Fertilizer from ammonium sulphate produced in the wash water would fetch – 2,000 euros a year.
Return on investment – 4.7 years. Investment in Energy recovery would improve the ROI to under 3 years. It is then clear this could be an interesting business model for the farmer and at the same time, not hit the pockets of the consumers.