Read the full story by Karen Yancey: “Digested Organics: manure for power, water, fertilizer”
Read the full story by Karen Yancey: “Digested Organics: manure for power, water, fertilizer”
Response to the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project Report on Dairies in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin
By: Robert B. Levine, Ph.D. and Christopher D. Maloney | Digested Organics, LLC
As a manure management technology provider that works with both CAFOs and smaller farms in Wisconsin on a daily basis, we believe it is important to provide an independent response to the recently published SRAP report “The Rap Sheets: Industrial Dairies in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin The Regulatory Failure of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: A Threat to Public Health and the Environment” to:
We agree that groundwater contamination is a serious issue in Kewaunee County, especially considering the geological Karst structure throughout the region. It is not factual, however, to state that “As of June 2013, 30.85 percent of tested drinking water wells county-wide contained nitrates and/or dangerous E. coli bacteria at levels deemed unsafe for human consumption by state and federal authorities”(pg. 7). We believe the authors are referencing a Kewaunee County Land & Water Conservation Department (LWCD) report to the County Board that summarized data on 483 well samples analyzed between August 2004 and June 2013.
This was a voluntary testing program, whose stated goal is “to introduce private rural well owners to the importance of regular, periodic well testing” and does not represent a random sample of the estimated 4,600 wells in Kewaunee. If we consider these to be the most up to date data, then it is accurate to say that 149 well samples, or 3.2% of all wells in the county and 30.8% of all samples tested, have been found at one point in the last 10 years to contain unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria and/or an elevated concentration of nitrate.
The severity of the issue notwithstanding, the report is wrong to focus exclusively on CAFOs as the source of the problem. Kewaunee has roughly 42,000 cows plus young-stock generating 550 million gallons of manure each year. And while the CAFOs maintain a large percentage of the herd, there are still 148 non-CAFO dairies in the county that store and spread manure. The authors of the SRAP report would have us believe that CAFOs intentionally and negligently contaminate groundwater, but after working closely with dairymen across the county and the State, we can confidently say that nothing could be further from the truth. CAFOs we talk with are actively investigating and/or pursuing on-farm manure treatment technologies that can rationally and cost competitively address the issue. We have yet to meet even one that doesn’t want to be a responsible environmental steward of the land and doesn’t take the issue of groundwater contamination seriously.
The authors suggest the best path forward is to get rid of CAFOs or at least “slow the rapid expansion and concentration of CAFOs in Wisconsin.” This continues to be the now tired mantra of the Kewaunee CARES group and their affiliates and continues to ignore the fact that their stated goal would eliminate hundreds of jobs across this State’s largest industry as well as millions of dollars of rental income for local land owners. We need more efficient dairy farms, not less, to meet the growing demand for food and Kewaunee’s CAFOs are some of our nation’s most productive. We believe, as do most CAFOs, that growth in the dairy industry should not come at the expense of the environment. However, it is well understood that because of the unique Karst geography in this region and the seasonal pattern of heavy rainfalls, any sized dairy following even today’s best management practices would still likely at some point contribute to groundwater contamination.
Of course, the DNR could further tighten regulations on spreading, increase the number of inspections, add more fines and penalties for spills, etc., but all this would still barely move the dial on the groundwater issue. We believe it is time to have a more rational discussion on how we can help the dairy industry’s largest producers not only stay in business but grow, enabling even more jobs and more tax revenue for hurting counties like Kewaunee. It is time to get serious about adopting onsite manure treatment technologies that can start to address the challenge at its source—the farm.
Digested Organics is one of several technology companies working to provide manure management solutions to the dairy industry in Wisconsin. Backed by industry leading performance guarantees, our fully integrated solution recovers energy from manure, producing on-farm heat and power while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and reclaims clean, reusable water free of nitrates and bacteria. Our Nutrient Capture and Water Reclamation (NCWR™) system is suitable for the largest of CAFOs down to the smaller dairies and can turn 1,000 gallons of manure or digestate into 700 gallons of clean water and 300 gallons of concentrated liquid fertilizer. A farmer using the NCWR™ system can reuse the water in his barn for flushing or washing, drinking water for the animals, or it can be discharged into a nearby waterway with the appropriate DNR permit. This equates to a 70% reduction in the number of manure truck trips on County roads.
The concentrated fertilizer produced in our process undergoes a significant reduction in pathogens or 100% of the pathogens can be removed by installing a final pasteurization process. It can then be applied at the right time throughout the growing season and at lower doses than raw manure when the plant needs it most – increasing plant uptake, reducing runoff and groundwater contamination, and improving yields. In sensitive areas, farmers can also dry the concentrated fertilizer, creating an exportable solid product worth up to $115/ton.
Our manure treatment technology is fully automated and cost competitive with any other system available today. It represents a solid investment for the future and for farmers looking to reduce their operating costs, gain efficiencies in their business, and reduce the environmental impact of their manure management operation.
Finally, we believe that Kewaunee, which has experienced more growth in their dairy industry than any other county in the State since 1983, has an opportunity to focus its collective energies around this important issue to help solve the actual problem, promote sustainable growth, and show strong leadership in the State. County Chairman Heuer and members of the board have already taken the first step by laying out a pro-business vision to solve the problem. We encourage all the stakeholders in Kewaunee County, including the authors of this SRAP report, to stop looking for someone to blame and force out of business and start working inclusively with County leadership, dairymen and others in the State trying to proactively solve this issue. It won’t happen overnight but it is possible to start today.
Please join Digested Organics at The Friends of Northern Lake Champlain Tyler Place Dinner in Highate Springs, Vermont on Thursday, May 21. Digested Organics will discuss our Nutrient Capture and Water Reclamation (NCWR) system, which is an add-on technology for existing digesters or our BioEliminator systems that concentrates nutrients and produces clean water for reuse or discharge. This can be used to concentrate nearly 100% of the phosphorous in manure into just 10-15% of your current volumes. We will also be highlighting our BioEliminator anaerobic digestion units which can remove up to 70% of the phosphorous from manure while capturing methane for on farm electrical generation. Digested Organics is proud to sponsor this event and bring attention to cleaning up Lake Champlain.
Bobby spoke at the annual Telluride Lecture series on Green Business on Saturday, April 13th. The invited panel spoke about what it means to be “green”, how to practice “triple bottom line” accounting, and why it matters more than ever to do more with less.
For more information on the Telluride Association at the University of Michigan, check out their website: http://www.telluride-house.com/
Don Heilman spoke recently on The Farm Report radio about how Digested Organics is working throughout Wisconsin to bring innovative energy, nutrient, and water management solutions to dairy farms. Check out the clip here:
Join us for a day of learning and discussion at the upcoming Ag Resource Day.
Free lunch provided to all attendees. For the complete agenda, click here.
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
11:00 – 2:00 PM
Ashippun Town Hall
W1266 County Road O, Oconomowoc, WI
Please come learn more about small farm digesters when Digested Organics COO Chris Maloney, along with other industry experts, discuss the latest innovations in the industry at the “Getting it Right” series held by the Environment, Research, and Innovation Center at UW Oshkosh.
For more info, click here.
Digested Organics is pleased to announce a partnership with Gryphon Environmental to supply high-efficiency dryers for farmers looking to reuse manure solids as bedding or produce dry feeds. By using the biogas generated by the BioEliminator™ manure treatment system, a Gryphon Dryer can create significant value for farmers looking to bed with dryer solids (good for reducing somatic cell counts) or produce their own dry feeds from wet materials like gluten or distillers grains.
Digested Organics selected the Gryphon Dryer because its performance is the best in the industry, with a 40% improvement in both operating costs and capital costs over competing technologies.
The Gryphon Dryer injects compressed, heated air into a vacuum that acts to simultaneously evaporate and physically remove water from wet materials. The dryer operates with a closed-loop air system, meaning the air used during the process is dried and re-circulated to take advantage of existing heat and to reduce energy consumption. The condensate water can be released to the farm’s lagoon or optionally purified for reuse.
For more information about how Digested Organics can integrate its cutting-edge digestion technology with a Gryphon Dryer, please call us today (844-9-DIGEST) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org