Livestock Waste-to-Value Solutions

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Livestock waste-to-value solutions encompass a range of technologies and processes that convert livestock manure into valuable products, such as renewable energy, fertilizers, biomaterials, and animal feed ingredients. These solutions aim to create a closed-loop system where waste is minimized and resources are utilized efficiently, promoting sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint of livestock production.

Impact on climate action

Livestock Waste-to-Value Solutions significantly reduce methane emissions from manure, a potent greenhouse gas. By converting waste into valuable resources like biofuel or fertilizer, it mitigates environmental impact while creating economic opportunities for farmers. This innovation enhances sustainability in agriculture, fostering a crucial step towards climate action.


Waste-to-value solutions for livestock manure leverage a combination of biological, chemical, and engineering principles:

  • Anaerobic Digestion: This biological process breaks down manure in airtight digesters, producing biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide) that can be used as a renewable energy source for electricity generation, heating, or transportation fuel.
  • Biogas Upgrading: Biogas can be upgraded to biomethane, a high-purity methane gas, which can be injected into natural gas grids or used as a transportation fuel, providing a renewable alternative to fossil fuels.
  • Composting: Aerobic decomposition of manure in controlled piles transforms it into a stable, odorless compost that enriches soil fertility and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers.
  • Nutrient Recovery: Technologies are being developed to extract valuable nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, from manure, creating concentrated and customized fertilizers that minimize nutrient runoff and pollution.
  • Biomaterials Production: Manure can be used as a feedstock for producing bio-based materials, such as bioplastics, bio-composites, and construction materials, offering sustainable alternatives to conventional materials.

TRL : Varies (5-9) depending on the specific technology and product.

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Insect Farming on Manure: Black soldier fly larvae can be raised on manure, efficiently converting it into high-protein insect meal that can be used as a sustainable ingredient in animal feed.
  • Manure-Based Biofertilizers: Combining composted manure with beneficial microbes can create biofertilizers that enhance soil health, promote plant growth, and reduce reliance on synthetic fertilizers.
  • Manure-Derived Bioplastics: Research is exploring the use of manure as a feedstock for producing bioplastics, offering a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based plastics.
  • Manure for Construction Materials: Manure can be incorporated into building materials, such as bricks, insulation, and bio-composites, reducing waste and promoting sustainable construction practices.
  • Manure Pyrolysis for Biochar and Bio-Oil: Pyrolysis, a thermochemical process, can convert manure into biochar, a stable carbon-rich material used for soil amendment, and bio-oil, a potential source of renewable energy.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Anaerobic Digestion for Renewable Energy
  • Biogas Upgrading Technologies
  • Nutrient Recovery Techniques
  • Insect Farming on Manure
  • Biofertilizers from Composted Manure
  • Manure-Derived Bioplastics Development
  • Manure Pyrolysis for Biochar Production
  • Circular Economy Solutions for Livestock Waste
  • Renewable Energy Generation from Livestock Waste
  • Sustainable Agriculture Practices with Livestock Waste
  • Innovative Technologies for Manure Management
  • Value-Added Products from Livestock Waste
  • Carbon Sequestration with Manure Biochar
  • Livestock Waste Recycling Innovations

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • AgriProtein:
    • Technology Focus: AgriProtein specializes in converting organic waste, particularly livestock waste, into valuable products like animal feed and organic fertilizers using insect-based bioconversion technology.
    • Uniqueness: They stand out for their innovative approach of using black soldier fly larvae to efficiently convert organic waste into high-quality protein and other valuable by-products, thereby addressing both waste management and protein shortage challenges.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions cater to industries involved in livestock farming, aquaculture, and agriculture, offering sustainable alternatives to conventional feed and fertilizers.
  • BioFiltro:
    • Technology Focus: BioFiltro focuses on bioremediation solutions for organic waste treatment, including livestock waste. They utilize naturally occurring microbes in their filtration systems to break down organic matter and remove contaminants, producing high-quality treated water.
    • Uniqueness: Their unique filtration technology relies on biological processes rather than chemicals or energy-intensive methods, offering a sustainable and cost-effective solution for treating organic waste while preserving water resources.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions are applicable to various industries generating organic waste, including livestock farms, food processing plants, and municipal wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Terra CO2 Technologies:
    • Technology Focus: Terra CO2 Technologies specializes in converting livestock waste into renewable energy and biochar through pyrolysis, a thermal decomposition process in the absence of oxygen.
    • Uniqueness: They differentiate themselves by offering a comprehensive waste-to-value solution that not only generates renewable energy but also produces biochar, a carbon-rich soil amendment that improves soil fertility and sequesters carbon.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions are relevant to livestock farms, biogas plants, and agricultural operations seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, generate renewable energy, and enhance soil health.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Wageningen University & Research:
    • Technology Enhancements: Wageningen University & Research is focusing on developing advanced technologies for converting livestock waste into valuable products such as biofuels, biogas, and bio-based chemicals. They are exploring innovative anaerobic digestion processes, microbial fermentation techniques, and thermochemical conversion methods to maximize the extraction of energy and nutrients from livestock waste.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at Wageningen University & Research integrates principles of circular economy and sustainability into the design of livestock waste-to-value solutions. They are investigating synergies between livestock farming, waste management, and renewable energy production to create closed-loop systems that minimize environmental impact and maximize resource efficiency.
    • End-use Applications: The waste-to-value solutions developed at Wageningen University & Research have applications in various sectors, including agriculture, energy, and biotechnology. For example, biofuels produced from livestock waste can be used to power farm equipment and vehicles, while bio-based chemicals can replace fossil-based inputs in industrial processes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on finite resources.
  • Cornell University:
    • Technology Enhancements: Cornell University researchers are exploring innovative approaches to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming, such as enteric methane reduction strategies and manure management techniques. They are developing dietary supplements, feed additives, and dietary management strategies to reduce methane production in ruminant animals and improve the efficiency of nutrient utilization.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Cornell’s research integrates cutting-edge technologies such as genomics, metagenomics, and precision agriculture into the development of livestock emission reduction solutions. They are leveraging genetic selection, microbiome manipulation, and digital monitoring systems to identify and implement sustainable practices that minimize emissions while maximizing animal health and productivity.
    • End-use Applications: The emission reduction strategies developed at Cornell University have implications for livestock producers, policymakers, and environmental organizations. By implementing these solutions, farmers can reduce their carbon footprint, improve the sustainability of their operations, and meet regulatory requirements related to air and water quality.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are focusing on developing integrated systems for managing and valorizing livestock waste. They are exploring novel bioreactor designs, microbial consortia, and bioconversion processes to convert organic waste into valuable products such as biofertilizers, animal feed supplements, and renewable energy.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at UIUC emphasizes a holistic approach to addressing environmental challenges associated with livestock farming, considering factors such as nutrient cycling, ecosystem services, and social equity. They are developing decision support tools and stakeholder engagement strategies to facilitate the adoption of sustainable waste management practices at the farm level.
    • End-use Applications: The waste-to-value solutions developed at UIUC have applications in agriculture, waste management, and renewable energy sectors. For example, biofertilizers produced from livestock waste can improve soil health and crop productivity, while biogas generated from anaerobic digestion can be used for heating, electricity generation, and vehicle fuel.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Several livestock waste-to-value technologies have reached commercial maturity:

  • Biogas Production from Manure: Large-scale and on-farm biogas plants are operating globally, utilizing manure as a primary feedstock to generate renewable energy and reduce emissions.
  • Insect Farming on Manure: Insect farming companies are scaling up their operations, using manure as a feedstock for producing insect meal for animal feed.
  • Composting and Vermicomposting: Compost and vermicompost production from manure is widespread, with farmers and commercial composting facilities producing valuable soil amendments.