Roeslein Alternative Energy announced a facility to create & inject large quantities of renewable natural gas into the national grid, will be operational by 2016
The presence of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), which appeared in the U.S. in April 2013 and in Canada in January 2014, presents tough challenges for manure managers.
McCormick Farms is a 2,000-cow dairy and the largest potato grower out of New York State. Because handling manure is a constant challenge, owner Jim McCormick a
The cows were immediately more comfortable and healthy when Michigan-based, Nobis Dairy Farms switched to sand bedding in their milking barns in 1974. However,
Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic, colorless, flammable gas – a by-product of anaerobic bacterial reduction of sulfates. Any time manure is being agitated or when shallow-pit plugs are pulled there is a potential for airborne concentrations of H2S to become elevated, potentially putting both workers and pigs at risk of being overexposed.
Honey Bee AirFLEX...
North American Manure Expo comes to Canada...
For the first time ever, the North American Manure Expo is being hosted within a Canadian province. The annual show is being held August 20 and 21, 2013, at the University of Guelph’s Arkell Research Station, located near Guelph, Ontario. So, what's a Manure Expo and why should you attend? This video will provide all the dirt.
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitatio...
Expert Dr. Susan Watkins discusses Water Sanitation
The population explosion...
With the world's population increasing exponentially and farmland staying the same, BASF took to the streets to ask consumers if this trend is sustainable.
November 24, 2015 – Research led by the University of Alicante in Spain shows the adverse effects of a drug commonly administered to livestock, ivermectin, on populations of a key dung beetle in Mediterranean ecosystems. A multidisciplinary research team made up of researchers from the Spanish universities of Alicante, Jaen and Granada, the French universities of Montpellier and Paul-Valéry Montpellier, CSIC's National Museum of Natural Sciences and the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation has analyzed the impact of ivermectin on Scarabaeus cicatricosus populations in the Mediterranean. Led by José R. Verdú from the Ibero-American Centre for Biodiversity (CIBIO) at the Universidad de Alicante (University of Alicante, UA), this research shows that arthropods that ingest this substance, even in low doses, become unable to interact with their surroundings since it affects both their olfactory and locomotor capacity. This fact may explain the population decline observed for this dung beetle. The article – Low doses of Ivermectin cause sensory and musculoskeletal disorders in dung beetles – was published in Scientific Reports in September. Ivermectin is a very effective anti-parasitic drug that has been used as a preventative in livestock since its discovery in 1981. Since then, its use has increased exponentially to become a standard drug in the treatment and prevention of common parasites, including in human beings. Considered by the World Health Organization as an essential medication, Verdú points out that, although this drug has proven very effective, its widespread use comes at a price. The issue, researchers have found, is that the ivermectin molecule can survive its journey through the animal and be excreted unchanged. Also, once on the ground, residues can remain active in animal dung for at least a month. This means the drug hits the arthropod populations as hard as it does the parasites it is intended to prevent. It is in this context that Verdú's team draws attention to the declining beetle populations, reporting that the ingestion of ivermectin affects even mature dung beetles, seriously compromising their mobility, orientation and reproductive capacities. These findings contradict international veterinary manuals and yet offer an explanation for the decline in population levels reported in other research. For this study, researchers used electroantennography, olfactometry and muscle force tests for the first time to obtain measures of the insects’ sensory and muscle power. It was carried out in the Doñana Natural Park in southern Spain, testing specimens taken from protected, ivermectin-free sites and land where ivermectin is used. Different rates of decomposition of dung were observed between the two sites, rates being some 30 percent lower in the sites where ivermectin was used. This can be ascribed to the absence of dung beetles as, without them, dung accumulates in the field unprocessed. With populations of beneficial dung feeder species declining over the past 20 to 30 years, "the difference between land with beetles and land without is the difference between roughly 350 kilograms of dung per hectare per year that is not being buried in areas affected by ivermectin", the researcher said. So aside from the lethal and sub-lethal effects of ivermectin on dung feeders, the use of this drug has a knock-on effect on the quality of the pasture for livestock, not to mention the irreparable loss of biodiversity in Mediterranean ecosystems. A further consequence is the growth of highly nitrophilous plants, which again are no good for livestock grazing. Researchers also speculate that ivermectin may be present in the food chain, pointing to the insectivorous birds that feed on dung beetles.
University of Georgia poultry housing experts have released the state’s first app to help poultry farmers determine how much they should ventilate their houses during cold weather. With thousands of birds living in a single house, keeping the air warm and fresh without spending a fortune on fuel during the winter can be one of the toughest challenges for broiler producers. The new app – called CHKMINVENT – is meant to simplify this process, said Mike Czarick, a poultry housing engineer at UGA’s Department of Poultry Science. “In the summertime, ventilation is fairly straightforward,” he said. “The more air they can move through the house, the better off their birds will be. In the winter, there is so much more at stake. Ventilate too much and you will have excessive energy costs and stressed birds. Ventilate too little you will have poor air quality and wet litter, which can lead to poor performance and health.” The app, available through Apple’s App Store, allows farmers to enter variables, such as the outside temperature, the amount of water the chickens consume, the temperature inside the house and the size of the poultry house’s fans. It then calculates how long farmers need to run their fans in order to remove excess moisture from the house and keep the chickens at a comfortable temperature. “The app gives people a starting point as to how much fresh air they need to bring in to control house air quality and litter moisture,” Czarick said. “It’s not intended to provide a precise minimum ventilation rate. It’s going to take adjusting, but this at least gives a scientifically based place to start.” For more information about the CHKMINVENT app, search for it on Apple’s App Store. For now, the app is only available for iPhone, but the team may develop versions for other operating systems based on demand for this initial version. Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Reduced carbon emissions, green energy production and other environmentally friendly initiatives are hot topics for all levels of government these days. So it comes as little surprise that a variety of green energy projects are popping up across Canada. One of those projects is Laforge Bioenvironmental’s commercial biogas production plant in Saint-André, N.B. The facility operates two anaerobic digesters on a dairy farm with approximately 90 cows, and is fuelled by a combination of cow manure and organic waste from regional food processors. The digesters are 12,000 m3 and 1,500 m3 in size. The overall energy production capacity of the site is 1.4 MWh, which is the amount of power that Laforge Bioenvironmental is allowed to put on the grid under its contract with NB Power (also a function of local power demand). However, the site has the potential to produce 2 MWh with the available feedstock in the region. The site currently process about 30 to 40,000 metric tonnes of waste per year. The $7-million project was completed in two phases with 80 percent of the financing coming through Farm Credit and the remaining funds coming from a combination of a few green energy grants and a zero-interest loan from the provincial government. The project is expected to pay for itself within the next six years through electrical generation and tipping fees, according to Kevin Shiell, business development and sales manager for Complete Senergy Systems, the consulting firm that worked on the second phase of the project’s construction. The expected lifespan of the anaerobic digesters is between 20 to 25 years. “But like any infrastructure, if you maintain it, replace parts when needed, you can probably make it last longer than that,” says Shiell. The raw materials used to create the sediment sent to the anaerobic digesters is a combination of manure from the 90 cows at the dairy farm; French fries and potato skins from local food processors; slaughterhouse waste and sugar beets. “The peels from the potatoes are all steam peeled so the starch is mostly washed off of them. It’s almost all just cellulose,” explains Shiell. “There’s not a lot of biogas value to it, but it’s good organic material. The French fries have a lot of energy in them.” Fifty acres of sugar beets were grown on the farm last year and are used as an energy crop for the sediment. However, other projects are being considered for the sugar beets, such as the creation of sugar and ethanol. Two tankers haul dissolved air floatation sludge (DAF) that comes from the slaughterhouse that comes off primary waste. “The liquid DAF sludge has a lot of fat, it’s actually really good stuff,” says Shiell. “It’s over 115,000 COD, so there’s a lot of gas that comes out of it.” The liquid DAF is mixed with all the dry materials to create a 10 per cent total solids mix, which is then pumped into the anaerobic digesters. The digesters run between five and eight per cent total solids. Manure is only a small part of the mix, mainly used as a dilutant. “If the pH of the digester or the buffering capacity of the digester is a little low, we’ll shovel a little manure into it,” says Shiell. “We’re only putting about 30 tons of manure in a day, and about 150 to 180 tons of other materials.” All of the ingredients are fed into the facility’s two 100-ton receiving tanks that fuel the anaerobic digester system. The floors of the tanks are heated at about 10°C except during the wintertime, when it is heated to same temperature as the anaerobic digesters. “In the wintertime, all this material is frozen,” says Shiell. “When you mix it up and pump it into your digester at 5°C it’s hard to keep your digester at 40°C.” The cow manure is collected under the holding pen before it is pumped over to the receiving tanks in measured amounts where it is mixed with other organic waste and churned into sediment. French fries and other organic waste are then added to the mix. The sediment is then pumped over to the anaerobic digester, where it fills the base of the dome. The sediment in the dome is constantly turned by a motorized mixer and heated to 40°C. This process makes the biogases rise up out of the sediment, inflating the dome. The biogases include carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide. The hydrogen sulfide crystallizes during the process and drops back into the sediment, leaving only the carbon dioxide and methane in the air. Those two gases are removed from the anaerobic digesters and fed into nearby biogas engines. The leftover sediment is then transferred to a nearby reservoir, where it is stores for future use as fertilizer. The biogas engines – a Guascor 600 Kwh engine and a Jenbacher 1.2 MWh engine – generate outputs upwards of 650 kW per hour or 250,000 kW a month. The electricity is fed into the NB Power Grid where it can power upwards of 300 homes, while generating approximately 4.5 million BTUs, which is used to heat an on-site farmhouse, the anaerobic digesters, hot water tanks, the shop and the dairy barn through the use of an in-floor hydronics system installed underneath the cement floor. “We have lots of extra heat in the summer but not a lot of extra heat in the winter,” Shiell says. “This is because it takes all the heat to heat the digesters in the winter.” Martin Machinery out of Missouri assembled both containerized generation systems. Complete Senergy works with them to assemble custom units that meet the CSA Biogas code required by New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Complete Senergy Systems also manufactured the mixers, hydronic heater and feed pumps. The biosolids generated in the electricity generating process are spread out over 1,500 acres of land. “You apply about 2,000 gallons per acre,” Shiell says. “We take about two or three months in the spring and pretty much spread it all summer. We’ll stop for a couple months during haying season. Then once the grass has been cut, we’ll put some on afterwards and then we’ll keep spreading until November to get the digester down as low as we can because we have nowhere to put it during the winter.” One challenge with producing large amounts of biosolids is that it the company has to go upwards of 20 kilometres away from the biogas plant to spread it on land, which can become relatively costly. One challenge the operation has experienced is a problem with birds where the organic waste is being stored. To counter this issue, the company is installing tarp curtain doors to keep them out. They come at a cost of approximately $1,000 per unit. “They work really well to keep the birds out,” Shiell says. Since the amount that is paid per kilowatt of electricity varies from province to province, this type of operation is typically more worthwhile in areas where higher per kilowatt rates exist. “We only make 10 cents per kilowatt, so 50 per cent of the revenues from this facility come from tipping fees – so McCain pays per ton to drop off material here, for example,” Shiell says. Although the paid kilowatt rate in New Brunswick isn’t as high as in provinces such as Nova Scotia or Ontario, between electricity generation, tipping fees, operations using the excess heat in the summer and the future pelletizing of fertilizer, Laforge stands to have a bright future in the biowaste business.
Compost is an earthy-smelling, humus-like material that is a product of the controlled aerobic decay of organic nitrogen (such as manure) and carbon (such as sawdust, straw or leaves). One advantage of compost is its ability to hold moisture. The focus of this article is to understand how to choose composts that increase the soil’s water holding capacity. It is important to understand at the outset that not all composts are alike. For example, composts made from manure are not the same as composts made from leaves. The nutrient content, microorganism diversity and population, cation exchange capacity and water holding capacity of compost can be different based on the feedstocks used to make the compost, the process used to make the compost and the maturity of the compost at the time of application. Therefore, it is important to understand the quality of compost before using it to ensure you get the intended benefit you are seeking. Soil scientists report that for every one percent of organic matter content, the soil can hold 16,500 gallons of plant-available water per acre of soil down to one foot deep. That is roughly 1.5 quarts of water per cubic foot of soil for each percent of organic matter, according to Sullivan in “Drought Resistant Soil. Agronomy Technical Note. Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas” at the National Center for Appropriate Technologies in 2002. Increasing the organic matter content from one to two percent would increase the volume of water to three quarts per cubic foot of soil. Rodale Institute presenters, on the other hand, assume that one pound of carbon can hold up to 40 pounds of water. That calculates out to be approximately 38,445 gallons of total water per acre six inches deep. The point here is that organic matter holds a lot of water, thus, the amount of organic matter in a soil directly influences the availability of water to a crop over time. However, organic matter in droughty soils breaks down so rapidly that getting above two or three percent is difficult to do, but getting to two to three percent can have major positive impacts. A 1994 study by A. Maynard found that a three-inch layer of leaf compost rototilled to a six-inch depth increased water holding capacity 2.5 times that of a native sandy soil and provided almost a seven day supply of plant available water. In a 2000 study, Maynard found that increasing the water holding capacity of the soil by adding compost helped all crops during summer droughts by reducing periods of water stress. The amount of water in a plow layer (eight inches) of the compost amended soil increased to 1.9 inches compared with 1.3 inches in unamended soil. Since vegetables require one inch of water a week, at field capacity, the compost amended soil held a two-week supply of water. The U.S. Compost Council (2008) has stated that the frequency and intensity of irrigation may be reduced because of the drought resistance and efficient water use characteristics of compost. Compost reduces soil crusting, which helps with water absorption and penetration into the soil. Recent research suggests that the addition of compost in sandy soils can facilitate moisture dispersion by allowing water to more readily move laterally from its point of application. The limiting factor for compost application in Michigan is soil phosphorus levels. In the Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices for Nutrient Utilization (Nutrient GAAMPs) it states when soil phosphorus levels exceed 300 pounds per acre, no source of phosphorus can be applied. That means no compost can be applied to soils that exceed 300 pounds per acre. When soil phosphorus levels are between 150 and 299 pounds per acre, compost is to be applied based on the phosphorus removal rate of the crop. When soil phosphorus levels are less than 150 pounds per acre, compost is to be applied based on the nitrogen requirements of the crop. For most cropland in Michigan, this means that low amounts of compost will be applied, so choosing composts high in organic matter is critical if increasing soil water holding capacity is your goal. According to the U.S. Compost Council’s Field Guide to Compost Use, farmers should choose composts that have an organic matter content between 50 to 60 percent and a water holding capacity of 100 percent or higher. When purchasing compost, ask to see an analysis to verify organic matter content and water holding capacity. Commercial sources of compost in Michigan can be found at the FindAComposter.com website. Soil organic matter is built up over time with continuous applications of compost. Some farmers in Michigan’s Thumb area have found that applying one to two tons of compost/acre/year on field crops makes a difference in the soil’s ability to grow a crop. It is estimated that applying a ton of compost to the acre on a soil with one percent organic matter can increase that soil’s organic matter content by 10 percent. Compost spread evenly over one acre at a depth of one inch equals about 135 cubic yards or 54 tons, assuming the compost has 60 percent organic matter and a bulk density of 800 lbs./cubic yard at 30 percent moisture. M. Charles Gould is with Michigan State University Extension.
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