Modeling agricultural recycling systems for system size and economic potential



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Texas Tech University


Water is one of the most valued natural resources, and its availability for consumption varies considerably within any region. Recycling water and biomass through reuse systems can help preserve finite available resources for future generations. An approach to achieve this goal is through modular production systems. These types of systems can be developed to utilize recycling technologies to preserve resources and enhance economic development as well as the quality of life, particularly for rural areas. Livestock waste, aquatic plants, fish, and feed for livestock might seem to be unrelated at first glance, but when combined in a modular production approach they become an effective approach to recycling water and biomass along with developing rural economics.

A modular production system concept is applied, using existing scientific knowledge and technologies, to connect these components into a self-sustaining, environmentally-friendly system. In this study the modular production system is composed of growing aquatic plants from livestock waste, feeding pond fish with a portion of these aquatic plants, then harvesting the plants and the fish to mix with agricultural biomass (cotton waste) to form a high protein content feed ration. The feed ration will then be used for livestock feed and the purified wastewater from the system will be reused to initiate the cycle once again.

The objective of this study is to investigate the viability of these modular systems for real life application. The various scenarios and the cost feasibility of a modular production system are examined. Economic analyses and modeling are conducted on the estimated costs of raw material, equipment, labor, and transportation. The resulting model shows that the modular systems approach is a promising alternative solution to economic, environmental, and social issues for rural areas, although the specific system modeled is not itself economically feasible.