Modernizing Agriculture
China will accelerate agricultural modernization by adopting scale management and focusing more on the rural population
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Cover Stories Series 2015> Accelerating Agricultural Modernization> Archives
UPDATED: March 3, 2014 NO. 10 MARCH 6, 2014
Green Animal Farming
China strengthens regulation on waste and pollution generated by large-scale livestock and poultry production
By Tang Yuankai

ORGANICALLY PRODUCED: A couple raise chickens with grains at a farm in Neijiang City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, on November 11 (XINHUA)

As people hoarded meat for their Chinese Lunar New Year feasts in late January, livestock and poultry farms in Feixi County, east China's Anhui Province, were very busy. However, what occupied them was not increasing production, but preparing for moving and tackling pollution.

Feixi is home to more than 530 livestock and poultry producers. Traditionally, the Chinese Lunar New Year, which fell on January 31 this year, has been a time for them to relax and happily count the money from the surging meat sales that occur in the days leading up to the holiday.

But this year, they were not in the mood for celebration after the release of the county's zoning plan on large-scale livestock and poultry breeding in November 2013.

According to the plan, Feixi's 1,960-square-km land will be divided into zones where livestock and poultry production are permitted, restricted or banned. The plan says that no farms dealing with livestock and poultry production are allowed near the county's drinking water sources. Even in the zones where such farms are permitted, they will be strictly monitored for their environmental impacts.

Feixi's Environmental Protection Bureau required that existing farms in banned areas be closed and relocated by the end of 2014, while farms in restricted areas should begin to recycle and reuse waste in order to meet environmental standards by the end of this June. It also said that the environmental condition in permitted zones will be monitored, and permitted zones may be redefined as restricted or banned zones in the case of environmental deterioration.

"The plan takes into consideration both the protection of the environment and the long-term development of the animal farming industry," said Mao Hongyou, manager of Feixi County Zhengjia Boar Co. Ltd.

The company's farm occupies an area of about 1 hectare. "The farm has an annual output capacity of more than 20,000 pigs, and produces more than 100 tons of waste daily, including about 100 tons of urine and other waste water," Mao said.

So far, Zhengjia Co. has invested 3 million yuan ($494,000) in pollution control. It is constructing a waste treatment facility that can handle 200 cubic meters of waste daily. The company also makes organic fertilizer from pig manure and sells it to offset the pollution control costs.

Feixi produced the plan in an effort to implement the State Council's Regulations on the Prevention and Control of Pollution Caused by Large-scale Breeding of Livestock and Poultry, which went into force on January 1.

The regulations are said to be the first of its kind in the country to address pollution in rural areas. It bans livestock and poultry production near drinking water sources, scenic spots, core and buffer areas of nature reserves, residential areas and other densely populated areas.

Source of pollution

It is no surprise that China's 1.3 billion people have produced shocking amount of pollutants, yet many people are unaware of the heavy pollution from livestock and poultry production.

According to a technical guideline for pollution prevention and control in livestock and poultry production released by the Beijing Guohuan Tsinghua Environment Engineering Design and Research Institute, the number of pigs, oxen, goats and other animals raised in China is roughly equal to the country's population. Studies show that a pig can produce the same amount of waste water as seven people, and the waste discharged from a large-scale livestock farm is no less than that from a medium-sized industrial plant, the document reveals.

In places such as Feixi, some large-scale animal farms are located near reservoirs and densely populated areas, and they discharge untreated pollutants into ecologically fragile areas, polluting the surrounding water, soil and air as a result.

In many places, agriculture rather than industrial production is the major source of water pollution. Furthermore, overuse of fertilizers and pesticides in livestock and poultry production has become the primary source of agricultural pollution.

In 2010, the discharge of chemical oxygen demand, nitrogen and phosphorus from livestock and poultry accounted for 41.9 percent, 21.7 percent and 37.7 percent of the national total, respectively. They also made up 96 percent, 38 percent and 65 percent of the total discharge from agricultural sources, according to the first national census on pollution released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Bureau of Statistics.

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