Inventor develops 'toilet for cows' to reduce ammonia emissions

The invention is an automatic urinal that cows use voluntarily (Photo: Hanskamp)
The invention is an automatic urinal that cows use voluntarily (Photo: Hanskamp)

A Dutch inventor has developed a 'toilet for cows' which captures 15 to 20 litres of urine a day in a bid to reduce ammonia emissions.

The system, called the 'CowToilet', ensures that the urine stays separated from the manure, which in turn causes less ammonia emission.

Approximately 90% of ammonia emissions come from agriculture, according to Wageningen University & Research (WUR). High concentrations of this colourless gas are harmful to humans and animals.

However, the mastermind behind the toilet, inventor Henk Hanskamp, calls his system 'revolutionary' which will 'solve' the ammonia problem facing the dairy industry.

Hanskamp has been developing a toilet for cows since 2016. It is an automatic urinal that cows use voluntarily, and has been designed to collect the urine before it hits the floor.

Cows have a nerve reflex that causes them to immediately urinate. With the CowToilet, the Dutch inventor has managed to automate this technique to make a cow urinate.

The toilet is placed against the cow's suspensory ligament and moves in unison with the cow. The technique locates the nerve.

Once located, the nerve, which triggers the urinary reflex, is stimulated and the cow starts urinating. The urine is collected in the CowToilet container and is extracted through a suction line into a separate storage tank.

Cows visit the CowToilet voluntarily, and is combined with receiving their daily portion of feed.

Because most of the urine is collected, an 'enormous reduction' in ammonia emissions is achieved, according to Hanskamp.

The CowToilet also offers economic advantages, as it saves on manure depositing costs and may even be an alternative to ammonia emission reducing floors.

The first models are expected to be available from mid-2020.