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Banff Pork Seminar 2009

Pork industry innovator honoured at 2009 Banff Pork Seminar

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Date posted: January 22, 2009
F.X. Aherne Prize
Ruurd Zijlstra, (left), Ross Thurston, (centre) Livestock Water Recycling Inc. and Gareth Jenkins (right) Livestock Water Recycling Inc.

A Canadian pork industry innovator was recognized for his efforts to improve water conservation and reduce emissions from hog farms at the 2009 Banff Pork Seminar, held Jan. 20-23.

The F.X. Aherne Prize for Innovative Pork Production honours Canadian pork industry members who have developed either original solutions to pork production challenges or creative uses of known technology. The winner of this year's Prize is Ross Thurston of LWR Technologies, Inc. in Calgary, Alberta for his Swinewater livestock manure treatment system. The award was presented at the Banff Pork Seminar, a leading seminar for the pork industry.

"At a time when the pork industry is seeking new ways to compete in an increasingly volatile world market, it has never been more important to find practical new ways for pork producers to become more profitable on their individual operations," says Ruurd Zijlstra, chair of the F.X. Aherne Prize selection committee. "These awards represent an opportunity for the Canadian pork industry to recognize those individuals who have invested their time and effort into improving the pork production process."

By association, the awards also honour their namesake, the late Dr. Frank Aherne. Aherne was a professor of swine nutrition and production at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and a driving force in the western Canadian pork industry for many years until his death in 2005. "A recurring theme of Frank's career was the development of valuable, applicable concepts and technologies," says Zijlstra. "The pork industry continues to benefit from many of these innovations today."

The continuous loop Swinewater System conserves water for farming operations, filtering manure-rich wastewater to the point where it is available for reuse as wash water or livestock drinking water. It also removes solids from the water that are later converted into fertilizer. In the process, it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the discharge of ammonia and phosphorus into the soil.

"Setting up safe, clean manure management systems has become one of the biggest challenges facing the pork industry today," says Zijlstra. "Meanwhile, the conservation of water and soil and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions have become key issues in the pork industry from an environmental, social, and even marketing perspective.

"Innovations such as Ross Thurston's Swinewater System help minimize the risk of potential water shortages in the livestock industry and help show consumers that pork producers are acting responsibly in their management practices."

Held since 1972 in Banff, Alberta, the Banff Pork Seminar is coordinated by the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, in cooperation with Alberta Pork, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and other pork industry representatives from across Canada. Program and proceedings of the Banff Pork Seminar are available on the Seminar Web site, www.banffpork.ca.

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