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Last update: May 2021

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Emma Goulez - Optimization of copper and zinc recycling in pig farming from animal feed to the soil

Thesis CIFRE Animine - Supervisors : Fabrice Beline UR OPAALE INRAE - Jean-Yves Dourmad and Francine De Quelen, UMR PEGASE INRAE - Alessandra Monteiro, Animine


Intensification and concentration of pig farming in limited areas, such as Brittany, has led to environmental problems. The nutrients released (N, P, Cu, K, ...) by animals into the environment impact the quality of the soil, water and air. Due to their low absorption rate by pigs, copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) are trace elements affected by this environmental risk. Cu and Zn are minerals considered essential for the proper functioning of the porcine metabolism. They are added as a supplement to pig feed to meet their requirements, which are estimated at 5-6 ppm for Cu and around 50 ppm for Zn. The objective is also to counter certain antagonistic effects provided by other elements (phytates, calcium, etc.), which reduce the bioavailability of Cu and Zn for pork, and therefore their absorption. Much of the ingested Cu and Zn is found in pig manure, 80-90%, and raw slurry can contain up to 1000 mg/kgDM for Cu and up to 2000 mg/kgDM for Zn. The direct application of effluents is the most common practice for the management of this waste. The increase in Cu and Zn in the soil, as a result, can lead to reduced yields per hectare on some crops, such as legumes or straw cereals. Likewise, excess Zn negatively impacts the composition and microbial activity of the soil. Different strategies exist to reduce the accumulation in soils of Cu and Zn from the land application of pig manure, including the reduction of these elements in feed, in order to reduce their excretion. The treatment of effluents (energy and agronomic recovery) is of great interest in bringing added value to livestock systems and may consist of another strategy. However, few studies have investigated the fate of Cu and Zn contained in pig manure after different treatments. The main objective of this thesis is to characterize the whole flows of Cu and Zn from feed to soil and to identify actions to be implemented to reduce the environmental impact of these elements.