Manure Manager

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In the news: November/December 2009

January 5, 2010  by Manure Manager

Any calculation of the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk needs to
include fuel used by tractors and trucks, as well as electricity
consumed by milking machines and refrigerators. But how much gas is
coming from the cows themselves?
Study to determine cows’ GHG emissions
Any calculation of the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk needs to include fuel used by tractors and trucks, as well as electricity consumed by milking machines and refrigerators. But how much gas is coming from the cows themselves?

That’s the question Purdue University researchers are investigating as they start a new study aimed at measuring greenhouse gases from dairy cows. Albert Heber, principal investigator and a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said the study is part of an industry-wide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to fluid milk.

The study is being funded by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and is one of several studies that will be used to measure the entire carbon footprint of fluid milk – from the farm to the glass. Researchers from the University of California-Davis, Cornell University, the University of Minnesota and Washington State University are collaborating on the project.

“Measuring the greenhouse gas emissions of dairy cows will help determine the extent to which the dairy industry contributes to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rick Naczi, the group’s executive vice-president of strategic industry analysis and evaluation. “Preliminary scan level research was conducted last year that showed the dairy industry accounts for less than two percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Now, we are expanding our efforts by partnering with respected academic institutions like Purdue and engaging in extensive research to assure that our efforts are based on sound science as we address the environmental, economic and social importance of reducing our carbon footprint.”


Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide will be monitored at five barn sites and two manure lagoons in Indiana, Wisconsin, California, Washington and New York. Mobile laboratories set up for the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study, of which Heber also is principal investigator, are being used to take the measurements in this study as well.

Tubes will draw air from each of several exhaust fans and background locations. The air will be fed into a series of analyzers that measure the concentrations of the gases. Those concentrations can be used to determine the amount of each gas emitted for a particular time period and per animal. Data will be updated every minute.

Heber said the gas comes from both the cow and the manure. Manure gas is easiest to address. Different manure management practices may increase or decrease total emissions, he said.

Most of the previous studies on dairy greenhouse gas emissions were done in Europe and Canada and don’t reflect U.S. climate and management practices. This study will provide country- and region-specific greenhouse gas emission rates from U.S. dairy operations, which can be used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for modeling emissions.

Data will be collected through Jan. 31.

Roda spreader line moving to Art’s Way
Art’s Way Manufacturing Co., Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of agricultural machinery, equipment and services, recently announced the company has signed a letter of intent to acquire the manure spreader product line of Roda Manufacturing, Inc., of Hull, Iowa.

The product line includes:

The H Series – a non-commercial, high quality, low maintenance pull-type manure spreader that comes in 400-, 600- and 800-bushel sizes

The V Series – a commercial spreader with removable vertical beaters, adjustable apron speed and a reversible apron

The HV Series – combines the best of both the H and V series. Rugged, reliable and available in 20-, 22- and 24-foot box length with either horizontal or vertical beater options. It also features a durable one-piece frame design and a triple apron.

The acquisition is anticipated to close January 2010.

Farm Power generates electricity
Farm Power and Puget Sound Energy recently announced the start-up of Washington’s newest source of clean, sustainable power – an anaerobic dairy digester.

The digester is capable of producing up to 750 kilowatts of electricity – or approximately the energy needed to power 500 homes – and will provide electricity to PSE’s Green Power Program.

“Our environment, and our tradition of family farming in the Skagit Valley, both demand new ways of solving old problems,” said Kevin Maas, 33, a former high school teacher who founded Farm Power with his brother Daryl, 31, in 2007.

Farm Power’s expected annual electricity output of approximately 6,000 megawatt-hours will go exclusively to PSE’s Green Power Program, which allows the utility’s customers to sign up to have some or all of the equivalent of the energy needs be purchased on their behalf by the utility from certified renewable energy producers.

The Farm Power site is located west of Interstate 5 and just north of the Skagit River in Rexville. It will utilize the manure of two neighboring dairy farms, along with other agricultural waste products such as spoiled fruit and cheese whey, as well as remnants from chicken processing. In addition to producing electricity, the dairy digester’s other environmental benefits include reduced odor, a lowering of residual nitrogen in field-applied manure and the production of fiber bedding for use on the farms.

The two neighboring farms helping supply manure to the digester – Beaver Marsh Farms and Harmony Dairy – are owned by families that have known the Maas brothers since grade school.


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