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Manure cover program introduced in Manitoba


March 24, 2010 – The Alberta government has joined forces with several counties in the province plus the local agriculture industry to launch a four-year project aimed at increasing the amount of liquid dairy manure being injected or applied through surface banding.

The Alberta government has joined forces with several counties in the province plus the local agriculture industry to launch a four-year project aimed at increasing the amount of liquid dairy manure being injected or applied through surface banding.

Calgary-based Preferred Carbon recently introduced its swine manure lagoon cover program to the province of Manitoba, unveiling its newest installation at the Starlite Hutterite Colony, located near Starbuck, Man.

The installation marks the completion of more than two years of work and negotiations with the provincial government for Bruce Love, director of Preferred Carbon, and Farmer’s Edge, an independent crop-consulting firm that partnered on the project. Although Preferred Carbon has installed several covers in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Manitoba government was slow to issue permits for the pilot project. Weather was also a factor in construction delays.

“What kept us going through the setbacks was the commitment and enthusiasm of the Starlite Colony folks,” said Love.

When approached by Preferred Carbon, officials with the colony were open to the idea of having the 200 by 350 foot black, low linear polyethylene cover installed over their 1.5 million gallon lagoon. One of the largest problems facing the 600-sow, farrow to finish farming operation have been complaints about smell coming from local neighbors.

The permanent cover is expected to last about 10 years and will help eliminate any odors while preventing methane gases – a major culprit in global warming – from escaping into the atmosphere. “Methane gas is 21 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide,” said Love.

The methane is collected under the cover and piped into an electronic measuring device to monitor the amount of gas being produced. It is then piped to a chimney and flared off.

The University of Manitoba Bio Systems Engineering Department plans on conducting research at the site examining methane production, crop nutrient management and odor control.

Ray Borys, an engineer with Manitoba Hydro present for the program launch, noted the Starlite Colony could use some of the methane gas produced to warm their weanling and turkey barns. The operation currently uses coal for that purpose. Manitoba Hydro has an energy-saving program where the utility will pay the colony 15 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first year if the colony members switch from coal to methane.

Love noted that no government money was involved in financing the pilot project, estimated to be worth about $100,000.

While methane does not yet qualify for carbon credits, the colony could receive credits for the work performed by the cover in the future.

Preferred Carbon specializes in aggregating and developing greenhouse gas offset projects in agriculture and renewable energy in Canada. The company is the only one in Canada making carbon-based investments on farms in western Canada.

Farmers Edge is an independent crop-consulting firm with expertise in variable rate crop inputs. Farmers Edge is a partner of Preferred Carbon in the delivery of agricultural carbon credit programs to farmers.

While Preferred Carbon brought the capital and expertise for the Starlite Colony lagoon cover project, it is through Farmers Edge that farmers are able to participate in a number of carbon credit based programs, including manure and land management programs that create carbon credits.