FIGURE 4: Shows how phosphorus could be recovered from animal waste on a massive scale.
The pilot would also allow researchers to anticipate social, economic, and political barriers to the scale up. For example, the program might explore incentives for CAFOs to use this technology and evaluate the willingness of fertilizer production facilities to accept phosphorus from the pilot farms.
Progress toward recovering resources and producing renewables on a massive scale has been slow due to opposition from industries that rely on nonrenewable resources and because renewables are still more expensive to produce—a cost passed on to the consumer. Research and development, such as the suggested pilot study, are necessary to move forward sustainably. Acceptance by the public and decision makers is also a major component. Along with education, the ability to produce affordable renewable alternatives will help garner this acceptance. Society needs to accept that nonrenewable resources are finite and move forward with sustainable solutions now in order to successfully develop the capacity to meet the demand of a growing population.