Describe your implementation:
Living bio-beds provide an alternative to conventional approaches to hog farming by eliminating the toxic runoff and pollution common to traditional methodologies. Our solution to this problem caught on very fast in many parts of Vietnam. This approach is very easy for farmers to understand and makes use of materials that are readily available and very low cost. When farmers saw an opportunity to raise healthier hogs and use a technique that saved on labor, they were eager to make changes.
The living bio-bed uses a unique process that involves the burying of canisters of rice in different micro-climates around a farm. After 10 days, a farmer returns to collect the top layer of mold that has grown. Next, the top layer of mold is mixed with warm water, molasses, and Lactobacillus (a culture from milk) and sprayed on the three layer hog bedding that is made of locally-purchased absorbent materials such as bamboo powder, sawdust, rice hulls, and dry leaves. The bedding becomes ‘alive’ and breaks down the manure and pig urine therefore eliminating all odor and runoff. These living beds challenge the approach of waste management from one based on disinfection to one that promotes co-infection.
Farmers in this area are often skeptical of new or unknown methods of farming. This is because past projects in the area have been unsuccessful and farmers are afraid to take risks that may not pan out. This can prove to be an obstacle. However, when one community member began using the living bio-bed technique and was able to show others her success, the approach caught on very quickly. Being that the technique is fairly simple, the innovation has spread from farmer-to-farmer and has great potential to continue scaling out across Vietnam and around the world.
Our solution was developed in collaboration with 4 expert farmers in Hanoi, Vietnam. Ms. Pham Nhu Trang, Ms. Hue, Mr. Thuan, and Mr. Viet all played a key role in lending their knowledge and testing the living bio-beds on their farms. Each of these farmers had concerns about the effects of toxic runoff from hog farms and wanted to contribute to making their operations more ecologically sound.
The living bio-bed makes use of local materials from the forestry sector by utilizing bamboo powder and sawdust. The purchase of these materials helps fuel the local economy and utilizes a resource that was often thought to have no use. The fact that living bio-beds eliminate runoff into water supplies means that community members that rely on fishing will not have to worry about toxins destroying the fish populations that they count on. Furthermore, bio-bed materials can be used to feed red worms and black soldier flies to be fed to fish in more modern fisheries.
Policy can also play an important role in the furthering of living bio-beds. When policy makers see the benefits of this ecological approach, they can better understand and offer support to farmers that are interested in converting their hog operation from traditional methodologies to these innovative and environmentally friendly practices.