Environment Protection
October 11, 2017, Madison, WI – A software program intended to cut water pollution and soil erosion has matured into an essential production tool for farmers, says a Fond du Lac County dairy farmer.

“I began using it in 2005 because I had to, I won’t lie,” Josh Hiemstar says in his barn office, as he gears up for the fall harvest on a 525-acre farm.

The software, called SnapPlus, was created at the University of Wisconsin department of soil science and introduced in 2005 under a state-federal mandate to reduce soil erosion and prevent runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus. These essential nutrients can over-fertilize lakes and streams, and feed the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Now, I use it because it helps me make better business decisions, better environmental decisions,” says Hiemstra. “SnapPlus is a big deal for farmers.”

SnapPlus solves several problems at once, related to distributing manure and fertilizer efficiently while meeting guidelines for protecting groundwater and surface water,” says Laura Good, the soil scientist who has led development and testing. “The program helps to maintain crop fertility without wasting money or endangering natural resources.”

The program is used on 3.36 million acres, or about 37 percent of the state’s cropland, says Good.

The crux of SnapPlus calculates nutrient requirements for croplands and pastures. The phosphorus calculation starts with a soil test, adds phosphorus from planned fertilizer and manure applications, then subtracts phosphorus extracted by crops. The software also estimates field erosion and phosphorus runoff rates to streams and lakes.

The math may sound simple, says Good, but the real world is complex. Soils have varying structure, slope, and subsurface geology – all factors that affect whether nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen stay where needed or become water pollutants.

Conditions can change from year to year, even within a field. Cropping sequences – called rotations – can be variable and complex.

And weather is, well, weather.

Fertilizer ranks near the top in farm expenses, but if some is necessary, more is not necessarily better. And so beyond enabling farmers to heed runoff standards, SnapPlus offers a means to optimize fertility and yields, and control costs.

Any farm in Wisconsin that applies nutrients and has benefited from government cost-sharing or receives the agricultural property tax credit must write a nutrient-management plan according to state-specific guidelines, which is typically done with SnapPlus.

“These standards and restrictions would be rather difficult to follow on paper,” Good observes.

Although SnapPlus is produced by the UW–Madison department of soil science, experts from UW Cooperative Extension have contributed nutrient recommendations and algorithms.

SnapPlus automatically taps databases on soil types, municipal well locations, and streams, lakes and shallow bedrock, so it “knows” factors conducive to rapid movement to groundwater, Good says.

“It tells you, on each field, what kind of soil you have, what kind of issues you have.”

Nutrient planning is often done by hired certified crop advisors, although many counties offer training courses to farmers who want to write their own plans.

With its triple benefit of avoiding pollution, supporting yields and reducing costs, SnapPlus “is a good use of taxpayer dollars,” Hiemstra says.

“You can call the county and get support, if they can’t answer, there is a full staff in Madison. The people who are writing the program are the ones telling you how to use it, and answering your questions.”

Agriculture may not get many headlines, but technology and economics are changing fast.

“Where we are now with the economics of agriculture,” Hiemstra says, “it’s even more important for farm operators to know their costs, and manage on their own. If you as a producer don’t take ownership of the information, you may be spending more than you need to spend.”
Published in Other
October 10, 2017, Madison, WI – Manure runoff from a dairy operation in Vernon County has impacted a trout stream in west central Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff continue to monitor the stream quality of Otter Creek, located north of the village of La Farge. Department fisheries biologists report a kill of more than 1,100 fish, including brook and brown trout, in the headwaters of the stream. The rest of the stream, known for its large fish population, does not currently appear to be impacted by the runoff. Otter Creek is a tributary of the Kickapoo River, but fish in the Kickapoo have not been affected.

The spill was reported to the DNR in early October and the source of the spill has been controlled.

Published in State
October 10, 2017, Toledo, OH – A team of STEM students came up with their best solution to help farmers process manure and fertilizer in a more environmental friendly way.

The St. Ursula team is putting the final touches on their model of a machine that separates manure into water, liquid fertilizer and dry fertilizer. The team is competing against high schools from across the country in the Lexus Eco Challenge. READ MORE
Published in Other
October 5, 2017, McGregor, IA – Area residents are concerned about how a 10,000-head cattle feedlot and biogas operation, currently under construction east of Monona, IA, could impact the Bloody Run Creek Watershed.

Construction is currently underway on the 50-acre site on six open-front cattle barns, as well as a feed storage area, concrete transfer pits and an earthen liquid manure storage lagoon with a capacity of nearly 39 million gallons. Also included on the site will be four tanks for anaerobic digestion and methane production for scrubbed biogas.

The manure from the 10,000 cattle at the site will be captured and, with the help of the anaerobic digesters, combined with waste feed products to produce natural gas. READ MORE
Published in Beef
October 4, 2017 – The Virginia State Water Control Board recently approved a revised proposed regulation for the certification of non-point source nutrient credits.

The regulation now moves to the governor’s office for final review before being issued for public comment.

The proposed regulation – to be issued pursuant to Va. Code § 62.1-44.19:20 of the State Water Control Law – establishes the framework for nutrient credit usage in Virginia. It reflects recent efforts to strengthen an earlier version of the proposed regulation on this topic, including a more detailed and substantial approach to eligibility and certification of NSN credits to be traded in Virginia’s nutrient credit marketplace.

Nutrients are nitrogen and phosphorous, which, when discharged in wastewater and stormwater, can adversely affect water quality. While point-source discharges typically occur from discrete conveyances like pipes and ditches, non-point sources of nutrients involve sheet-flow stormwater runoff or other sources not regulated as point sources, such as crop and pasture lands and residential lots. The ability to use NSN credits offers an increasingly valuable and significant alternative for dischargers of wastewater and stormwater with nutrient loads. Municipalities, certain industries, and developers can utilize NSN credits to offset nutrient loads in their respective wastewater and stormwater discharges and apply them to help meet nutrient limits in their wastewater and stormwater permits. The earlier version of the proposed regulation published more than two years ago garnered many comments, but other factors have shaped NSN credit issues since then as well. Such factors include evolution of state and federal water protection planning and nutrient management and reduction practices, newer nutrient management strategies, innovation in technology and nutrient reduction tools, and experience with a burgeoning nutrient credit market. In particular, the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load’s increasingly stringent requirements for point-source discharges and increasing pressure to address loadings from non-point sources have sharply accelerated the need – and related market-based opportunities – for NSN credits to offset these loadings.

The proposed regulation addresses several key aspects of agency certification of NSN credits and assurance of their eligibility and viability for use by others. These aspects include (a) NSN credit certification and registration procedures; (b) calculation of the nutrient reduction factor associated with a particular NSN credit, which depends on the nutrient reduction method used to generate the credit; (c) the duration of NSN credit certification (perpetual or for a set period of time) and the retirement of NSN credits once used or expired; (d) reasonable assurance that the NSN credits are actually generated as certified; (e) reporting and recordkeeping obligations; (f) compliance audit and inspection processes and authority; (g) requirements to comply with local water quality standards even if NSN credits are applied against nutrient loadings; (h) public notification of use of NSN credits as part of a discharge permit condition; and (i) allowances for other requirements as the board deems necessary and appropriate. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality would serve as the implementing agency under the proposed regulation.

As the issues have evolved, the proposed regulation has in turn changed from the earlier proposed version and includes several new or different provisions, including: (i) clarification that the proposed regulation would only apply to NSN credits that will be registered on Virginia’s Nutrient Credit Exchange; (ii) inclusion of municipal separate storm sewer system service areas within the definition of “management area” to clarify that the entire MS4 service area is required to meet applicable urban baseline determination requirements before an MS4 may generate nutrient credit; (iii) certification and use of NSN credits generated in tandem with stream or wetland mitigation credits; (iv) addressing “innovative practices” that don’t squarely fall within nutrient management practices approved by the Chesapeake Bay Program or listed in Virginia’s best management practices clearinghouse; (v) specification of a five-year maximum period for term NSN credits (those other than perpetual); (vi) more specific provisions for perpetual NSN credits; (vii) certain exceptions from financial assurance obligations; (viii) aligning NSN credit review for land-conversion projects with 2016 statutory amendments; and (ix) other changes based on DEQ’s experience to date in certifying NSN credits under its statutory authority.

The proposed regulation indicates that the certification process and NSN credit verification and assurances are evolving to keep pace with a growing market and increasing and critical need for NSN credits to help regulated wastewater and stormwater dischargers meet ever tightening nutrient load and permit limits. All stakeholders should carefully monitor the public comment process as it unfolds.
Published in State
October 3, 2017, Mankato, MN — Minnesota's namesake river is straining from a big increase in water flow caused by farm drainage systems, heavy with nitrates that threaten Mankato's drinking water supply, according to a study conducted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

A summary of the study (pca.state.mn.us/mn-river-study) was released October 2 at a park next to the Minnesota River.

Based on recent water monitoring and decades of research, overall the Minnesota River is suffering in water quality. Sediment clouds the water, phosphorus fuels algae growth and nitrogen and bacteria pose health risks. READ MORE



Published in State
October 2, 2017 – Global methane emissions from agriculture are larger than estimated due to the previous use of out-of-date data on carbon emissions generated by livestock, according to a study published in the open access journal Carbon Balance and Management.

In a project sponsored by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Carbon Monitoring System research initiative, researchers from the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) found that global livestock methane (CH4) emissions for 2011 are 11 percent higher than the estimates based on guidelines provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2006. This encompasses an 8.4 percent increase in CH4 from enteric fermentation (digestion) in dairy cows and other cattle and a 36.7 percent increase in manure management CH4 compared to IPCC-based estimates. Revised manure management CH4 emissions estimates for 2011 in the U.S. from this study were 71.8 percent higher than IPPC-based estimates.

"In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food,” said Dr. Julie Wolf, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), senior author of the study. “This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions. Methane is an important moderator of the Earth's atmospheric temperature. It has about four times the atmospheric warming potential of carbon dioxide. Direct measurements of methane emissions are not available for all sources of methane. Thus, emissions are reported as estimates based on different methods and assumptions. In this study, we created new per-animal emissions factors – that is measures of the average amount of CH4 discharged by animals into the atmosphere – and new estimates of global livestock methane emissions."

The authors re-evaluated the data used to calculate IPCC 2006 CH4 emission factors resulting from enteric fermentation in dairy cows and other cattle, and manure management from dairy cows, other cattle and swine. They show that estimating livestock CH4 emissions with the revised emissions factors, created in this study, results in larger emission estimates compared to calculations made using IPCC 2006 emission factors for most regions, although emission estimates varied considerably by region.

“Among global regions, there was notable variability in trends in estimated emissions over recent decades,” said Dr Ghassem Asrar, director of JGCRI and a co-author of study. “For example, we found that total livestock methane emissions have increased the most in rapidly developing regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa. In contrast, emissions increased less in the U.S. and Canada, and decreased slightly in Western Europe. We found the largest increases in annual emissions to be over the northern tropics, followed by the southern tropics."

The estimates presented in this study are also 15 percent larger than global estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only slightly smaller than estimates provided by the EPA for the U.S., four percent larger than EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research) global estimates, three percent larger than EDGAR estimates for U.S. and 54 percent larger than EDGAR estimates for the state of California. Both the EPA and EDGAR use IPCC 2006 default information, which may have contributed to the under estimations.
Published in Air quality
September 29, 2017 – The National Corn Growers Association has asked the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and write a new rule that provides farmers with clarity and certainty, reduces red tape, and does not discourage farming practices that improve water quality.

“Corn farmers take very seriously the important role we play in helping the country meet its water quality goals, as laid out in state and federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act,” said Wesley Spurlock, president of the NCGA. “We depend on clean water for our livelihood, and we are committed to conservation practices that protect our nation’s streams and rivers.”

Spurlock called the 2015 rule inconsistent with the aims of the Clean Water Act, and noted that the rule also “has the perverse effect of making it harder for farmers to practice good soil and water conservation, nutrient management, and water quality protection practices.”

Farming practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips reduce sediment and nutrient runoff. Instead of encouraging these types of farming practices, the 2015 rule effectively discouraged them, due to both the bureaucratic red tape, and fear of legal action.

“We support the administration’s effort to create a new WOTUS rule, and we stand ready to work with them to ensure farmers have the clarity and certainty they need,” said Spurlock.
Published in Federal
September 29, 2017, Bailey’s Harbor, WI – In a 3-2 vote, the Door County Land Conservation Committee decided to forward a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), voicing support for the karst-targeted changes to NR 151, the state’s manure-handling rule, but also asking for clarification on the cost-sharing aspect of the new rules.

Two farmers on the committee voted against the committee sending a letter of support after hearing from many farmers who believe they will lose about 30 percent of their cropland for spreading manure under the proposed rules. READ MORE
Published in Regional
September 27, 2017, Sacramento, CA - The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has extended the grant application deadline for the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), from October 2, 2017, to October 16, 2017 at 5 p.m. PDT.

The AMMP is one of two programs designed by CDFA to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. The program will provide between $9 million and $16 million in grants to California dairy and livestock operators to implement non-digester manure management practices that reduce their methane emissions.

For detailed information on eligibility and program requirements, prospective applicants should visit the CDFA AMMP website at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/. To streamline and expedite the application process, CDFA is partnering with the State Water Resources Control Board, which hosts an online application tool, the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST). All prospective applicants must register for a FAAST account at https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov. Applications and all supporting information must be submitted electronically using FAAST by October 16, 2017, at 5 p.m. PDT.

Published in State
September 27, 2017, Albany, NY – The New York state government recently announced that $50 million in grant funding is available, over three consecutive application rounds, to help state livestock farms implement water quality protection projects.

The funding is a part of the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, which invests in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and other water quality protection across the state, including funds to ensure proper management and storage of nutrients such as manure on farms. The application period for the first $20 million is currently open and closes November 20, 2017.

County Soil and Water Conservation Districts can apply for the CAFO Waste Storage and Transfer System Program on behalf of eligible farmers. The maximum award amount per proposal is $385,000, which includes funding for engineering and construction expenses. Grants will help Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation-permitted farms offset the cost of water quality protection projects, such as manure storage construction, site preparation and associated best management practices.

New York State has more than 500 CAFO farms, most of which are dairy farms with 300 or more cows. CAFOs can also include associated livestock operations such as beef, poultry and equine farms. Projects funded will also help farmers meet the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's new environmental requirements, first announced in January of this year.

The application and additional information is available on the Department of Agriculture and Markets' website. In addition, the Department of Agriculture and Markets along with the Department of Environmental Conservation have developed an informational document to educate communities on the importance of manure storage facilities to maintain New York State's environmental standards. The fact sheet can be found here.

Grant awards will be made by December 18, 2017. The department will launch a second and third application period for an additional $15 million in both 2018 and 2019.

“This is a great opportunity for CAFO farms to partner with their local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to construct and fully implement best management practice systems on their farms,” said Dale Stein, chair of the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee. “This funding program will assist producers in meeting the State's new environmental regulations, and will further protect the water quality of our lakes, rivers and streams in New York State."

“The $50 million in grant funding for manure storage will improve environmental stewardship on livestock farms across the state,” said David Fisher, president of the New York Farm Bureau. “The cost sharing partnership between farmers and New York State will provide greater flexibility to manage nutrients as farms comply with stricter regulations connected to the new CAFO permits. New York Farm Bureau appreciates the Governor's recognition of the continued need for the funding that will help New York agriculture improve on its strong water quality record."
Published in State
September 26, 2017, Tucker, GA – The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award.

The award recognizes exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production. Those eligible for the award include any family-owned poultry grower or egg producer supplying product to a USPOULTRY member or an independent producer who is a USPOULTRY member. Nominations are due Oct. 16.

This year, the award was presented to exemplary family farmers in five regions of the country: Northeast, Southeast, South Central, North Central and Southwest. Nominations for the 2018 competition must be made by a USPOULTRY member or an affiliated state poultry association by completing the application provided by USPOULTRY. Each integrator or egg processor may nominate one grower or producer for each processing facility in each state supporting their operations.

Five families received the Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award in 2017. The winners were: Daniel Lausecker, Nature Pure, Raymond, Ohio, nominated by the Ohio Poultry Association; Tom and Kim Nixon, Glenmary Farm, Rapidan, Va., nominated by Cargill; Tammy Plumlee, Lazy J Farm, Fayetteville, Ark., nominated by Cargill; Collins Bullard, Bullard Farms, Stedman, N.C., nominated by Prestage Farms; and Gary Fuchs, Ideal Poultry Breeding Farm, Cameron, Texas, nominated by the Texas Poultry Federation.

Three finalists were also recognized in 2017. They were Dennis and Yvonne Weis, Den-Yon Turkey Farm, Webster City, Iowa, nominated by West Liberty Foods; Greg and Carla Grubbs, Natural Springs, Clinton, Ky., nominated by Tyson Foods; and William and Lana Dicus, 4 T Turkey Farm, California, Mo., nominated by Cargill.

"Best management practices are used by poultry growers to enhance environmental stewardship on their farms,” said Jerry Moye, retired president, of Cobb-Vantress, Siloam Springs, Ark., and USPOULTRY chairman. “The dedication and inventiveness that our award winners and finalists display each year through their environmental management practices is commendable.”

All semi-finalists will receive a trip that covers travel expenses and hotel accommodations for two nights to attend a special awards ceremony that will take place during the 2018 International Poultry Expo, part of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Ga. Each semi-finalist will also receive a Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award sign to display near the entrance of their farm.

The overall winner of each region will be named at the Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit, held in conjunction with IPPE, on Jan. 30, 2018. Each regional winner will also receive a $1,000 cash award. In addition, the farm for each regional winner will be spotlighted on USPOULTRY’s website, and the association will provide assistance in publicizing the farm’s award in local, regional and national media.

Competition details are available on the USPOULTRY website at www.uspoultry.org/environment.

Published in Associations
September 26, 2017, Springfield, MA — The winners of the 2017 New England Green Pastures Award were recognized at the Eastern States Exposition on Sept. 15. Honored as Massachusetts Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year was Pine Island Farm of Sheffield, MA, managed by the Aragi family.

Pine Island Farm is a third-generation dairy farm operated by the Aragi family since 1964. Thomas Aragi – Louis Sr.’s father – purchased the original parcel of 179 acres. Today, the farm consists of more than 1,594 acres. The dairy operation is a partnership jointly owned by Louis Aragi Sr. and Louis Aragi Jr. Pine Island Farm houses approximately 1,500 head of dairy cattle. The farm generates approximately 20 million pounds of milk annually. All of the farm’s acreage used is solely for the dairy operation and the needs of the Aragi family. The Aragi’s also rent tillable cropland to provide sufficient feed for the dairy cattle.

Running a successful dairy operation is a challenge. Through thoughtful and creative planning and making solid business decisions, the farm has developed a dairy operation that relies heavily on the farm’s natural resources (landmass and field crops).

The Aragi’s have set their sights on developing an operation that is successful and will support future generations of the Aragi family. They look at opportunities for the farm from all angles and think outside the box in order to take maximum advantage of their available resources and implement those things that will benefit the farm-labor efficiencies, cost savings, and increased profitability. One such opportunity was in 2011 with the installation of a methane digester at the farm both owned and operated by the Aragi’s, that has addressed environmental issues, and created by-products that have been used at the farm reducing operating costs – diversifying the farm product mix and assisting in the sustainability of the farm. The Aragi’s prime focus has been to “mine the farm waste” for conversion into beneficial by-products and effectively use those digested by-products. Investing in this technology and gaining experience with it; and the diversification of the by-products, all have positioned the farm for future benefits ranging from additional revenue streams and labor savings. All of which have laid a foundation for sustainability of the Aragi family farm.

The Green Pasture Award is given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states, with winners evaluated on production records; herd, pasture and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
Published in Dairy
September 25, 2017, Lancaster, PA – Fire and Penn Township municipal crews faced an extensive cleanup operation after a September 22 crash involving a farm vehicle spilled an unknown amount of the manure.

Northern Lancaster County Regional Police said a tractor towing the liquid manure spreader – filled with 6,000 gallons of manure at the time – lost control and the rig overturned. READ MORE
Published in Manure Application
September 25, 2017, Sauk Centre, MN – More farmers will bring feedlots into compliance in Minnesota’s number one dairy-producing county — cutting pollution to a Mississippi River tributary in the process — thanks to Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District staff’s ability to leverage federal funds and provide technical assistance.

The SWCD is targeting the top five contributors to the nutrient-impaired Sauk River and Sauk River chain of lakes. Sauk River Watershed District monitoring showed elevated phosphorous, sediment and bacteria levels. The SWCD typically takes on 10 to 20 feedlot projects a year.

A $392,500 Clean Water Fund grant from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources will allow the SWCD to stretch its resources even further as it strives to eliminate contaminated feedlot runoff. READ MORE
Published in Regional
September 25, 2017, Tucker, GA – U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) is releasing a sixth video in a series highlighting environmental stewardship on poultry and egg farms.

The video features one of USPOULTRY’s Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award winners, Bullard Farms in Stedman, N.C. Collins Bullard and his wife, Alison, own a 1,500-acre farm with eight turkey houses. They also raise pigs and grow corn, wheat, soybeans and hay.

The Bullard’s grow 180,000 tom turkeys a year for Prestage Farms. All the litter produced by their turkeys are used on their crops. This has allowed the Bullards to increase profitability by eliminating the need for commercial fertilizer. They remove the litter after each flock and store the litter until it can be applied according to their nutrient management plan. Their storage facility is covered and off the ground to protect groundwater and prevent runoff of nutrients. The Bullards use a forced air compost facility that can hold 90,000 pounds of mortality at any given time.

The use of GPS allows Bullard Farms to apply litter in specific areas where there is a need versus applying to the entire field. The farm has implemented a phosphorus-based nutrient management plan since they started raising turkeys in 2006.

"My family has been farming for five generations, and a lot of changes have occurred over the years. Searching for new and better ways to farm has helped us to strive to use the best environmental management practices possible," said Collins Bullard.

USPOULTRY and our members know the significance of exemplary environmental stewardship. We are pleased to be able to provide this video series highlighting the environmental efforts of our family farmers,” commented Jerry Moye, retired president of Cobb-Vantress and USPOULTRY chairman.

Bullard Farms was recognized for exemplary environmental stewardship by family farms engaged in poultry and egg production. Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award winners are rated in several categories, including dry litter or liquid manure management, nutrient management planning, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques, innovative nutrient management techniques and participation in education or outreach programs.

The video can be viewed on USPOULTRY’s YouTube channel.
Published in Poultry
September 21, 2017, Portland, OR – U.S.-based private investment fund Climate Trust Capital has reached agreement on its first carbon investment in the biogas sector – the West-Star North Dairy Biogas Project.

More than $862,000 of Climate Trust Capital’s Fund I was invested in a covered lagoon digester that will destroy methane and produce carbon offsets under California’s cap and trade system. Fund I was launched in October 2016, seeded by a $5.5 million investment from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and supported by a Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“This has been an exciting year, with marked progress toward the deployment of the $5.5 million that makes up Climate Trust Capital’s Fund I,” said Sean Penrith, executive director for The Climate Trust. “We have officially made investments in each of our three preferred sectors – forestry, grassland conservation, and livestock digesters – and are pleased to see our investment strategy come to fruition with high-caliber partner, California Bioenergy.”

The investment is based on the anticipated 10-year value of carbon credits from a livestock digester project located at West-Star North Dairy, a 1,500-acre farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Project partner, California Bioenergy LLC (CalBio), has built three other dairy digester projects, including the state’s largest, with many more scheduled for development. This project investment is expected to begin generating carbon offsets in January 2018 with initial cash flow from the sale of these offsets in 2019.

“Realizing the potential cash flow from the future sale of a dairy digester’s environmental attributes is a complex process involving a high level of project expertise, careful monitoring, and the management of regulatory and market risk,” said Ross Buckenham, CEO for California Bioenergy. “The Climate Trust is a sophisticated carbon investor and together we are able to harness the value of these environmental benefits. The Climate Trust’s willingness to invest in a significant portion of the future attributes further reduces risks to the famer and project. We are grateful for their support as well as the support of the California Energy Commission and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.”

Farms have historically flushed their manure into uncovered lagoons, which generate methane and release it to the atmosphere. The West-Star North digester will treat the manure by installing CalBio’s patented dairy digester design – excavating two new lagoons in the process – and then covering the lagoons with a flexible, high-density polyethylene cover. Captured methane will be stored and then combusted in a high-efficiency generator that delivers renewable electricity to Pacific Gas and Electric. In addition, the digester will be double lined and enhance ground-water protection. Effluent from the digester will be used to irrigate fields and will also be part of a USDA drip irrigation study.

“Digester projects offer a host of beneficial revenue streams, from improving the economic and environmental performance of dairies, to clean energy, scheduled electricity delivery, improved soil nutrient management, and diverting waste from landfills,” said Peter Weisberg, senior portfolio manager for The Climate Trust.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
September 21, 2017 – Join AgSTAR at the BioCycle REFOR17 conference and attend the program’s “States Advance Digester Development” session.

During the session – being held from 4:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 17 – participants will explore state policies and incentives that support and advance anaerobic digestion (AD). Speakers will include:
Speaker presentations will be followed by a moderated panel discussion examining:
  • State-level goals and how states are achieving them
  • Successes and setbacks related to AD policies
  • Challenges facing the potential expansion of digesters
  • Potential opportunities in the AD market
BioCycle REFOR17 is being held October 16 to 19, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, at the Red Lion Hotel on the River. This national biogas conference offers hands-on information and tools to position companies or organizations for success in AD, biogas markets, composting, manure, food waste, and renewable fuels. The event will feature plenary and technical sessions, an exhibit hall, a site tour, and workshops.

View the BioCycle REFOR17 website for more information.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
September 18, 2017, Madison, WI – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) approved a conditional $15 million Focus on Energy grant to BC Organics, LLC for an innovative bioenergy system in Brown County.

The system will produce renewable natural gas from dairy farm manure and other waste. The project will reduce the need to land-spread raw manure, protect sensitive groundwater and surface waters in northeastern Wisconsin, and provide positive economic benefits to participating farms.

At the direction of Governor Walker, the PSC, Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collaborated to develop a request for proposals (RFP) on innovative anaerobic digester systems that could produce renewable energy, remove nutrients from manure, protect water quality, and reduce pathogens.

BC Organics was recommended unanimously by the evaluation team comprised of expert staff from the PSC, DNR, DATCP, UW-Madison and Focus on Energy. BC Organics must obtain all of the necessary state and local regulatory approvals before construction may begin and includes an odor control plan designed to minimize impacts to neighboring landowners.

The consortium consists of 24 members led by Wisconsin-based Dynamic Concepts (Waukesha), along with WEC Energy Group (Milwaukee), US Biogas LLC (Plymouth), and BioStar Organics, among other Wisconsin based firms. The project’s proposed location is northeast of Holland, near Green Bay, is co-located with a proposed landfill owned by Brown County.

It has commitments from nine Wisconsin farms with over 22,000 animal units, with the capability to expand to include additional farms in the future. The facility is expected to begin operations by January 1, 2019. The project will employee up to 20 full-time employees.

The project involves the construction of multiple anaerobic digesters with capability to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure and food waste, and eventually landfill gas. The estimated energy output of 5.7 million therms is equivalent to the home heating needs for 7,600 Wisconsin homes. The RNG will be injected into the interstate natural gas pipeline system for use as a heating and transportation fuel. 

The project will improve water quality in surface and groundwater in Brown, Kewaunee, Calumet, and Door counties using advanced nutrient separation technologies to treat the wastewater and produce other beneficial by-products including, bedding for cattle, liquid fertilizer, and dry solids that can be converted to fertilizer or used as feedstock for a renewable electric generation facility. When fully operational the project will remove 577,837 pounds of phosphorus and generate 163 million gallons of clean water annually. 

Wisconsin continues to lead the U.S. in on-farm digesters. BC Organics provides an innovative approach that could provide a model for eliminating the need to spread raw manure on the land and provides a framework that could be replicated in other parts of the state to improve environmental outcomes for the livestock industry. Specifically, it will help farmers reduce the water quality impacts of dairy farming in the karst region of northeastern Wisconsin by: reducing or eliminating the need to spread manure and overtopping lagoons; removing phosphorus from the waste stream; improving the efficiency of uptake of nutrients by plants; and virtually eliminating the pathogens in treated manure.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
September 18, 2017, Des Moines, IA – Iowa has about 5,000 more pig confinements and cattle lots across the state than originally believed, a report to the federal government last month shows.

That's nearly 50 percent more animal feeding operations than the state initially inventoried.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources discovered the facilities through satellite imagery, used to complete a comprehensive survey required under a 2013 agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. READ MORE
Published in State

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South Dakota Pork Congress
Wed Jan 10, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Minnesota Pork Congress
Tue Jan 16, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Value of Biogas West
Tue Jan 16, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Iowa Pork Congress
Wed Jan 24, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2018 International Poultry Expo
Mon Jan 29, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM