Food or Fuel? How will changes to ethanol subsidies affect food / fuel debate? Will cellulosic biomass like switchgrass ever work? This #AgChat conversation touches on one of the hot topics in agriculture.
Manure digesters in California are facing the strictest regulation yet. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is mandating an emissions standard of nine parts per million Nitrogen Oxides or NOx that existing digester technology has never conclusively met. NOx combines with volatile organic compounds to form ozone, and the Air District has been faced with the challenge of reducing all NOx emissions.
New and existing digesters would have to add air pollution control technology to engine generators or face forced shutdown. “This means huge up front costs and expensive operating and maintenance costs,” says Allen Dusault with Sustainable Conservation. Digesters could still be operated and gas flared, but no electricity produced. The purpose of the digester would be defeated.
According to Integrated Separation Solutions it just might be possible.
Integrated Separation Solutions is a Wisconsin based company. Originally in the industrial process water and food separation sector, they have recently started working with dairy producers in solving their manure management problems.
Company representative Josh Vrieze, says they like to think of their product as nutrient partitioning. Instead of just separating out the solids by screen or a screw press and removing 20 to 30% solids, their system sends the manure through four different phases. Each phase happens in a matter of minutes and removes a percentage of solids, resulting in close to 100% solid reduction.
The fourth stage involves reverse osmosis and the resulting product looks just like drinking water. According to Vrieze it’s very similar to distilled water because all of the minerals are gone, and it runs very close to meeting drinking water standards.
Although equipment is needed to do this process, potentially this application could be given a discharge permit. Then this might be a more viable option for dairies that are looking at expanding instead of digging a lagoon.
This technology has been around for years, it’s just being adapted to a new industry. Also, no chemicals are involved in the process.
As Vrieze notes, his neighbors don’t mind the cows, but they do mind the lagoons.
Dr. Rick Kohn, University of Maryland, offers some advice on improving the environmental impact of your operation as well as using milk urea nitrogen (MUN) as a management tool to reduce cost and negative effects
How we handle employee conflicts can make a big difference, some tips from Agriculture Management Coach, Don Tyler