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MDA awards $1 million for innovative manure management technologies


 

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) recently awarded more than $1 million in grants for three animal waste management technology projects.

Checks were recently presented to Planet Found Energy Development and Green Mountain Technologies for implementation of their demonstration projects.

Maryland recently revitalized the state’s Animal Waste Technology Fund, which provides incentives to companies that demonstrate new technologies on farms and provide alternative strategies for managing animal manure. These technologies generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, and repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer and other products and by-products.

The MDA plans to award a total of $2 million of the $2.5 million available in fiscal year (FY) 2014. Funds not awarded during FY 2014 will be added to a new round of requests for proposals to demonstrate innovative manure management technologies, totaling $3 million in FY2015.

The first two grant awardees:

Planet Found Energy Development (PFED) – $676,144.47 – uses an anaerobic digester linked to a nutrient recovery system to produce electricity (26 kWh plant producing an estimated 100,000 kW/yr) for parasitic load and will use net metering to send any excess electricity back to the grid. Excess heat may be used to offset propane costs for poultry house heating. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are to be partitioned into three separate fertilizer products for on-farm use or sale. The dry weight of the poultry litter is reduced by 50 percent and the fiber by-product has the potential to be re-used as poultry bedding. Millennium Farms, owned/operated by Jason and Kim Lambertson, is in Worcester County and has six poultry houses. Although pairing the two components is new, both have been proven as stand- alone systems. PFED broke ground on the anaerobic digester component of the project spring 2014 and will use grant funds from the state to support the nutrient capture system.

“Our team at Planet Found Energy Development is excited to work with the Maryland Department of Agriculture in finding alternative ways to utilize poultry manure,” said PFED partner Jason Lambertson. “Our partnership is the first step in helping the agricultural community use a current resource as renewable energy while reducing key nutrients that have a great impact on the future of the poultry industry in Maryland.”

Green Mountain Technologies, Inc (GMT) – $388,310 – Although composting is not new, the in-vessel system is a closed system reducing variability of environmental factors impacting composting success. The vendor offers this as a turnkey operation and provides ongoing management support, which reduces farm operator time, labor requirements and potential error.

GMT proposed two individual projects for in-vessel composting. The first is a small composter at a horse rescue facility in Howard County where nutrients and by-products will be reduced by 50 percent. GMT is in discussion to market this compost to vendors who sell planting medium for nursery production. The second project is larger and will be implemented on a dairy farm in Frederick County that also will process the offal from its turkey production and processing facility. The agricultural operation is owned and managed by Eugene Iager, who is exploring the use of the compost for dairy bedding and opportunities for marketing it.

GMT operates out of Seattle, Wash., and they will use web-enabled controllers and probes to monitor temperatures and manage the composter remotely when not on site.

“Green Mountain Technologies is honored to have two projects selected by MDA. We realize that the agricultural industry must be given waste management options that are not only environmentally sustainable but also financially sustainable,” said GMT agricultural sales specialist Mollie Bogardus. “We believe in furthering the market channels for the value added products created through quality composting of the waste from dairies, equine facilities and poultry sites.”

In January 2014, the MDA issued a Request for Proposals for demonstration projects with proven and innovative technologies that manage agricultural manure and on-farm generated waste in a manner that improves its utility as a fertilizer, changes its form or function for alternative uses, or produces energy or other marketable products. The overall outcome of the technology will result in reduction of nitrogen and/or phosphorus movement to surface waters associated with animal manure produced on farms in Maryland.

Maryland’s nutrient management regulations govern the amount, timing, and placement of crop nutrients — Including manure and other organic nutrient sources — on agricultural land to prevent excess nutrients from impacting waterways. To help poultry and livestock producers comply with the regulations, Maryland is supporting and investing in alternative uses for manure such as fertilizer manufacturing, composting and manure-to-energy projects, and the development of new products that add value to improve farm viability.

The MDA received eight bids, which were reviewed by a six-member technical review subcommittee. The subcommittee represented diverse skill sets and backgrounds and its members were chosen from the 20-member Advisory Committee for the Animal Waste Technology Fund. Three of the recommended projects were approved by the Board of Public Works.