Editorial: July-August 2010
June 28, 2010 by Scott Jamieson
In case you were wondering, when the time comes I always thought that
I’d like to be cremated, and have my ashes scattered in the waves of a
certain beach in Maine
In case you were wondering, when the time comes I always thought that I’d like to be cremated, and have my ashes scattered in the waves of a certain beach in Maine that I’ve visited every summer since I was born. At least that’s what I’ve told all of my family and friends that will listen (and some that won’t). Yet, legal issues aside, I’m now starting to reconsider this selfish act. After all, in an era of global warming and attempts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, who has the right to add to that problem as they part from this mortal coil? No, going up in smoke may now be a thing of the past – far better to return to the earth, feeding the bugs and helping to create new life in the process.
What got me thinking along this line is our cover story on composting deadstock. Starting on page 12 you’ll read all about the growing use of on-farm solutions to get rid of dead farm animals. Basically it involves the responsible, well-planned, and monitored mixing of deadstock with various forms of compost, including manure, to solve several agricultural problems at once. By disposing of the animals on farm, the risk of transmitting disease to other farms is minimized, a significant concern in recent years. Through proper composting, enough heat should be generated to kill harmful, disease-causing bacteria. Finally, the process creates a humus-like compost that can safely be spread over crop lands. If done right, this new return to an old process sounds like a win-win.
Another win-win that positions agriculture as an environmental champion involves the manufacture of biogas. Like most forms of bioenergy, biogas can turn a liability – waste – into an opportunity. When bioenergy clearly involves what the public perceives as waste, which is the case with manure, it’s also becoming increasingly popular with mainstream media and environmental groups (less so when it involves using trees or arable land to grow biomass, but that’s another story).
You’ll find the latest entry into the biogas field profiled by editor Margaret Land on page 8. Catalyst Power is the brainchild of British Columbia farmer Chris Bush. His anaerobic digester will feed Canada’s first biogas upgrader, which will allow the operation to tie directly into the province’s extensive natural gas distribution network. “From our pig pens to your hearth” may not be the marketing slogan of choice in this case, but you get the point. This transcends responsible manure management, using our manure assets to keep the public warm and to cook the food our sector has grown. Somewhere there is a great PR story waiting to be told.
For my part, and for the record in case any friends or family are reading this, I’ve softened my stance on cremation, but am still not quite ready to be composted. I often get excited about innovative environmental solutions, but you have to draw the line somewhere.