Dairy farm nominated for sustainability
September 18, 2012 by Manure Manager
A dairy farm in the Edmonton, Alta., area is doing its part to help improve the operation’s environmental footprint and was recently nominated for national recognition for doing so.
Lakeside Dairy, a 170-cow farm near Legal, Alta., is taking clean drywall that would normally go to landfill and putting it to use on their farm through bedding and composting.
According to Alberta Environment, about one pound of drywall waste is produced for every square foot of new house built in Alberta. From a 2,000-square-foot house, that means that about a ton of drywall waste will be shipped to landfill. The 30,000 houses forecasted to be built in Alberta in 2012 alone translate to the weight of a cruise ship. The effects of drywall in landfills include the production of hydrogen sulfide gas.
Lakeside Dairy has been able to demonstrate the benefits of mixing the clean, ground drywall with wood shavings to use as cow bedding. The bedding is composted with manure and chicken litter from a neighboring farm, additional drywall, and then used as a fertilizer for the fields. All the drywall is brought in from local housing construction sites.
The sulfate in the drywall decreases the pH of the manure, reducing ammonia and greenhouse gases by up to 90 percent or as much as 3,000 tons of CO2-equivalent annually. When the mixture is spread on the land, it adds sulfate and calcium, and retains nitrogen.
Ultimately, Lakeside’s use of recycled gypsum helps to divert more than 1,200 tons of drywall scrap from landfill annually, providing a local urban company with a business opportunity in drywall recycling.
About 80 percent of the farm’s fertilizer needs are met through their compost.
“Sustainability is successful on our farm because it is profitable. The practices with the largest impact do not require large capital investment and generate financial and labor savings that are immediate and provide opportunities in the future,” says Jeff Nonay, president of Lakeside Dairy.
Lakeside was one of four finalists from across Canada for the national Dairy Farm Sustainability Award. This award evaluates environmental sustainability, financial viability, social benefits, and the reproducibility of practices on other farms.