Livestock water recycling

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Livestock Water Recycling, Inc., also referred to as LWR, is a privately owned Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta. The environmental company focuses on livestock manure management at dairy and hog CAFO livestock operations.

The company has built and manufactured industrial waste water treatment systems throughout North America since 1991.[1] It conducts all design, production and manufacturing at its office in Calgary, Alberta. Initially the company focused on wastewater remediation of oil and gas sites. In 2004 it identified a new opportunity in the agricultural industry with regards to manure management.

Manure Management[edit]

Manure management is an increasing issue among CAFO livestock operators. Large CAFO operations help sustain the food industry with its production of food sources. The more food produced the more manure that is produced. Manure is often stored and spread onto adjacent farmland since it is rich in nutrients and is a good fertilizer. Since the livestock industry is so important, manure management practices need to be developed to protect the environment – increased government regulations have been put into place.

The amount of manure spread onto farm land affects the concentration of nutrients in the soil, water run-off can transport nutrients such as phosphorus or nitrogen into fresh water streams. High volumes of these nutrients can disrupt the natural ecosystems causing algae blooms, etc.[2]

Other common manure issues include:

  • Strong odors associated with manure storage lagoons and ponds
  • Expensive costs associated with hauling manure
  • Increased flies and other insects at farming operation
  • Operation expansion requires additional land or higher costs for hauling manure

North America has approximately 10 million dairy cows [3] and 76 million hogs.[4] The dairy and hog industries in North America continue to consolidate into larger CAFO operations resulting in an increase in herd size and a decrease in the number of operations. Certain areas of North America are concentrated with dairy and hog operations. For example, California produces the most milk in North America;[5] whereas Iowa is the top hog producer.[4]

The LWR Manure Treatment System[edit]

LWR is best known for its ‘LWR Manure Treatment System’. The system uses mechanical and chemical processes to segregate nutrients from manure in dairy or hog CAFO operations.[6] The system produces dry solids, a liquid nutrient concentrate and clean potable water. Manure is rich in phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, and ammonia. These nutrients can be used as fertilizer to improve crop production.

LWR currently has systems operating in Indiana, New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Research Studies[edit]

The Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI) concluded a crop growth trial in the fall of 2014 with the nutrient fertilizers produced by the LWR Manure Treatment System. This latest research project evaluated the LWR fertilizer through a series of grow-tests in the OCCI greenhouse facility using outputs collected at a dairy site in Michigan. The LWR Manure Treatment System completely segregates and concentrates all of the nutrients found in dairy and hog manure. The process results in clean water, dry solid nutrients, and a concentrated liquid nutrient.

The study that was concluded this fall, confirms that the LWR liquid fertilizer contains adequate amounts of nitrogen and trace minerals suitable for growing plants. The results also confirm that the liquid fertilizer produced through the LWR manure treatment system is free of phosphorus, with lab analysis showing phosphorus levels at 0.0000%. The phosphorus that is removed from the liquid nutrient is captured in the dry solid fertilizer that can be easily transported and applied to phosphorus deficient land.

In the dry solid growth test, it was found that when mixed at 25% with soil, corn had the highest recorded heights of all treatments when compared to commonly used all-purpose plant food. This indicates that under the correct mixing ratio, the LWR dry solid fertilizer supports the growth of corn. The study determined that the nitrogen and potassium in the 50% LWR liquid solution is more easily adsorbed by corn than when compared to a commonly used all-purpose plant food. Corn that was fed the all-purpose fertilizer absorbed 7.958% of input nitrogen and 9.105% of input potassium. When given the 50% LWR liquid solution, percentages of absorption increased to 22.87% and 24.98%, respectively.

An earlier case study completed by the OCCI determined that the LWR System is able to provide the livestock industry with a technology that will assist farmers in creating an environmentally sustainable marketplace. The physical and chemical quality of the recycled water is deemed suitable to livestock water reuse as per CCME standards. The microbial quality of water is also acceptable. The hormone and pesticides in the effluent water was detected after a 100x concentration indicating very negligible amounts.

These research studies have proven that the LWR System effectively reduces the overall volume of manure, allowing for water to be recycled and nutrients to be recovered and concentrated. The system alleviates many common manure management issues. The recycled water is suitable for reuse and the recovered nutrients can be used as fertilizers for growing crops.


In 2015, LWR received the AIR MILES® INNOVATION OF THE YEAR AWARD. President Ross Thurston accepted the award at the 2015 Small Business Achievement Awards Conference in Toronto.

In 2014, LWR President Ross Thurston was awarded with the 3M Environmental Innovation Award for his cutting-edge, environmentally friendly manure management system. The 3M Environmental Innovation Award, established by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and 3M Canada in 2009, celebrates innovative contributions to environmental change that benefit Canada. Ross was presented the award by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada in Ottawa on November 19, 2014.

In 2014, LWR was named as a 2014 Imagine H2O Finalist for offering innovative solutions to today’s looming water challenges, including improving water use, treatment, supply, or discharge in the Food and Agriculture sector. The awards ceremony was held during Imagine H2O’s Entrepreneurship Showcase and World Water Day celebration in San Francisco, CA.

In 2013, LWR was named a 2013 Top Water & Wastewater Project by Water & Wastes Digest. Projects must highlight a water or wastewater project that was in its design or construction phase over the last 18 months. Editorial staff and industry professionals evaluate all nominations to choose winners based on entries being remarkable and innovative. Each year the awards are presented at the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC).

In 2013, LWR was the recipient of the prestigious Deloitte Technology Green 15 Award for developing technology solutions and intellectual property that promotes efficient use of the earth's resources.

In 2013, LWR was selected from over 1,000 entries as winner of the $100,000 TELUS and Globe & Mail Small Business Challenge Contest. The grant was used to acquire new lab equipment to aid LWR's manure testing process and upgrade its lab facilities. The 2013 3rd annual contest invited small and medium-sized business throughout Canada to present their biggest challenge for the opportunity to win the grant. An initial entry, presentation, and online voting contributed to LWR's award.

In 2011, LWR was recognized as a Top 10 Innovative Product in the 2011 Dairy Herd Innovation Awards at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Each entry was judged on its originality within the marketplace, usefulness and value to dairy farmers.[7]

In 2010, LWR was recognized as a Top 10 New Products at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California.[8] The Top-10 new products are a favorite ‘must-see’ among World Ag Expo visitors.[9]

In 2010, LWR was a recipient of the Emerald Award. The Emerald Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements by Albertans committed to protecting, preserving, enhancing and sustaining the environment.[10]

In 2009, LWR won the Dr. F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production at the Banff Pork Seminar in Banff, Alberta. The award honors Canadian pork industry members who have developed original solutions to pork production challenges.[11]


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