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Got Manure?

There's more to German pigs than wurst and salami: Nowadays, they are being recruited to tap the liquid manure market in the western German state of North-Rhine Westphalia.


Quick! Where's the bathroom?

Germany produces some 150 million cubic meters (5.25 billion cubic feet) of liquid manure each year -- most of it comes from pigs.

Now the liquid animal waste is up for sale: The government of North-Rhine Westphalia has set up the world's first centralized database to buy and sell liquid manure. "As far I know, this is the first manure market of its kind," Thomas Griese, the western German state's deputy environment minister, told Reuters. "We are now waiting for our first customers."

The ministry decided to set up the manure market to help out farmers: While some have more dung than they can dispose of, others are short and need to buy mineral fertilizers to spread on their land.

The liquid excrements will be transported in trucks and sold for € 4 to € 5 ($5 to $ 6) per cubic meter. It will not be carried further than 100 kms (62 miles) to a destination. "In theory we could carry it across Germany, but we do not want to risk spreading germs or bother people with the smell," Griese said, adding that limiting the travel distance also puts a lid on transport costs.

He said the manure will be mostly from pigs, but animal waste will be mixed together for the market exchange, which will not distinguish between manure from different species.