Dutch innovation: A toilet especially for cows

Dutch innovation: A toilet especially for cows

No, this is not an April Fool’s joke (it’s too early for that). In the Netherlands, a toilet especially for cows is being developed. Such a toilet would separate urine from dung and tackle the problem of ammonia emissions in dairy farming. Around 90 percent of ammonia in the EU comes from agriculture, according to Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

A toilet that helps the environment

Separating cow dung from cow urine leads to considerably fewer ammonia emissions. Cow urine contains nitrogen in the form of urea. When this comes into contact with enzymes found in cow manure it is converted into ammonia gas. In developing the CowToilet, Hanskamp Agrotech, the company behind it, is addressing the problem at the source. The CowToilet has been in development since 2016.

Reducing ammonia emissions is good for the environment and animal welfare. Less ammonia in animal sheds means a better quality of air for the livestock. It also gives health benefits for the animals, as they are not standing in, or breathing in the ammonia.

If released into the air, ammonia can precipitate in nature and acidify soil and affect groundwater. High concentrations are harmful not just for animals, but for humans too. So having less in the environment is ultimately better, as plants can only process so much.

How does the CowToilet work?

Every cow produces around 10 litres of urine or more daily. The CowToilet is basically a urinal for cows. Cows go voluntarily to the feeding area and once there, the CowToilet is placed against its back-end at the suspensory ligament, to be precise.

The CowToilet then moves in unison with the cow and locates the specific nerve that triggers a urinary reflex, simple as that. The urine is collected in the CowToilet container and then moved to a separate storage tank via a suction line.

The toilet saves farmers money when it comes to manure disposal costs, and the pure urine they collect could be used for precise fertilisation or in other instances as a high-quality raw material. The CowToilet is expected to reach the market mid-2020.

Take a look at the CowToilet- English subtitles are available:

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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