Global
November 14, 2017 – Dozens of livestock farmers in the Netherlands are breaking the rules for the disposal of surplus manure, according to an investigation by the NRC Handelsblad, an evening newspaper based in Amsterdam.

Farmers are forging their accounts, illegally trading their manure or dumping more on their land than permitted by law, while transport companies are fiddling lorry weights and making unrecorded trips to dump manure at night, the paper said.

In total, the NRC found that 36 of the 56 manure processing and distribution companies in the two regions had been fined for fraud, or suspected of fraud, in what the paper calls the “manure conspiracy.” READ MORE
Published in Other
October 19, 2017, The Netherlands – In 2016, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that China consumes around 28 percent of the world’s meat. A lot of this meat is nationally produced, so a huge amount of livestock is needed. News outlets report that China raises around nine billion chickens for meat consumption. But besides space, feed and resources, another serious problem is manure management. Developing and implementing safe, cost-effective and sustainable ways is necessary and the Netherlands can play an important role.

Within the Chinese government, there is an urgency to accelerate the transition to a circular, bio-based agriculture. The modernization of agriculture is a prominent topic in the 13th five-year plan and billions of euros will be invested in bio based and organic waste recycling over the next few years. Manure utilization is often not optimal in China, which has negative effects on the environment. At the same time, this also offers opportunities for foreign parties to enter the market.

Therefore, a Dutch mission visited China in early October to gain a better understanding of the latest developments and to explore opportunities for long-term cooperation.

“China has a large demand for agri-food technology and know-how,” said Epi Postma, director of B&E BV and one of the participants. “So there is a lot of supply and demand. Agri-food is a top-priority for the Chinese government. The Netherlands has much to offer and the Chinese know it. However, active involvement of the Dutch Embassy and Wageningen University for Sino-Dutch cooperation is imperative for opening doors.”

Wageningen University (WUR) has close ties with several Chinese agricultural institutes such as the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the China Agricultural University (CAU). Last year, WUR and CAAS together established the Sino-Dutch Livestock Waste Recycling Center.

“We want to set up projects which link research institutes and the business community,” said Roland Melse, senior environmental technology researcher who also accompanied the mission. “Another good example of such a cooperation is the Sino-Dutch Dairy Development Center where WUR, FrieslandCampina, Rabobank and other companies are participating on the Dutch side.”

In the Netherlands, solving the manure problem is a process that is already in the spotlight for many years. Further reducing emissions and raising resource efficiency are important challenges as well, now that the Netherlands has the ambition to become a full circular economy by 2050. Furthermore, the sector needs to adapt to changing natural conditions caused by a changing climate.

Thus, getting insight on the available knowledge and the innovation ecosystem in China can also provide solutions for the Dutch situation. Of course, this is not applicable one-on-one.

“Operating on such a large scale as China’s needs long-term investments in time and capital,” said Melse. “So that is quite a challenge for smaller companies.”

On the other hand, the technology and tools that the Netherlands can offer are very interesting for China. Eijkelkamp Soil & Water Export, for example, “provide solutions that make sustainable soil and water management easier,” said Winnie Huang, export manager. “Looking at manure nutrient management, our technology has environmentally friendly solutions for the whole value chain. The Netherlands [is a] pioneer with this technology.”

But it is not all about technology.

“Rules and regulations are another important factor in further developing this industry,” said Melse. “When there are stricter laws, companies will have to follow them. For example, recently we organized a seminar with 20 Chinese CEOs from large meat producing companies and you could see that Chinese companies are preparing themselves for the future. They are interested to see which future possibilities there might be for cooperation or which products and technologies are available on the market. So the Chinese government also plays a role in strengthening Sino-Dutch cooperation.”

“We hope to have government support for developing or demonstrating the Dutch expertise in manure management,” said Huang. “Our sensors and data enhance nutrient management, thus making manure a useful resource for the entire value chain. Learning the Dutch approach and adapting to Chinese practice will deliver mutual benefits to both countries in this sector.”
Published in Companies
October 13, 2017, The Netherlands – Farmers in the Netherlands are suffering from an overflow of chicken manure contaminated with a European Union-banned insecticide, fipronil.

Poultry farmers in the country can’t send the tainted manure to biomass power plants that convert the feces into electricity, as many typically do. They must send it to two incinerators equipped to eliminate the insecticide-contaminated feces, which can’t keep up with the demand to burn the chicken manure since August’s chicken egg scandal. The tainted manure has sat in barns and farms since that time. READ MORE
Published in Poultry
October 6, 2017, The Netherlands – A wedding ring found in a manure tank on a farm in Groningen province last month was probably lost on a farm in Noord-Brabant 37 years ago.

The owner of the ring – engraved Dini 28-7-60 – has been “99 percent” identified by finder Bram Hamminga from Zuidbroek after a Facebook appeal.

The hunt for the owner first looked fruitless but Hamminga now believes the ring belongs to 76-year-old Brabant widow, Diny van Oorschot. READ MORE
Published in Other
October 4, 2017, Finland – The electricity used at this year’s Helsinki International Horse Show will be produced entirely with horse manure at Fortum’s Järvenpää power plant.

The electricity consumption of the event is expected to be about 140 MWh, and the origin of the electricity will be verified by the Guarantee of Origin system maintained by Fingrid. Producing the energy needed for the event requires the annual manure output of 14 horses. This is the first time in the world that the electricity for a major horse show will be produced entirely with horse manure.

“I am really proud that electricity produced with horse manure can be utilized for an event that is important to equestrian fans and the horse sector,” said Anssi Paalanen, vice president of Fortum HorsePower. “It is great that Finland’s biggest and best-known horse show is a forerunner in energy and environmental issues.”

“It’s great to participate in electrifying the pilot event of the Fortum HorsePower concept with horse manure,” said Tom Gordin, event director. “Overall, the concept is fascinating and creates tremendous opportunities for the entire horse sector in Europe. This is also an important part of our own Horse Show Jumps Green environmental project.”

Fortum HorsePower is a bedding and manure management service for stables, with the manure generated at the stables transported for use in energy production. The service has been operating in the Uusimaa region for a couple of years, and the service area is expanding all the time. In addition to the Helsinki metropolitan area, it now covers much of southern and western Finland. The Fortum HorsePower service was launched this autumn also in Sweden, where there are already close to 3,000 horses leaving green hoof prints and producing energy through the service.

During the event, Fortum HorsePower will deliver wood-based bedding for the 250 or so horses that will be staying in temporary stalls. The manure-bedding mixture that is generated will be transported to Fortum’s Järvenpää power plant where it will be utilized in energy production. An estimated 135 tonnes of manure-bedding mixture will be generated during the event.

The Helsinki International Horse Show will be held on October 18 to 22.

Published in Combustion
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 20, 2017, Australia – A family-owned piggery in northern Victoria is about to unplug from the grid and rely on a $1 million biogas system for all its power.

The biogas system is expected to save the business operators at Yarrawalla hundreds of thousands of dollars. READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
August 11, 2017, Wexford, Ireland – More than 250 delegates from across Europe and around the world will gather in Wexford next month to discuss a range of scientific research topics with potentially profound importance for the future environmental performance of Irish agriculture.

The biennial Ramiran (Recycling of Agricultural, Municipal and Industrial Residues in Agriculture Network) conference is being hosted by Teagasc and will focus on new cutting-edge strategies and technologies to improve the efficiency of manure and residue management on farms. READ MORE




Published in Other
June 26, 2017 - There was plenty of new equipment to look at in the muck area where solid spreaders were put through their paces with FYM and slurry equipment was paraded to show applicator folding and tanker transport systems.

The emphasis of many developments was increasingly on the ability to control applications in order to better make use of the nutrients in muck and slurry, and record those applications for traceability and future nutrient planning.

The growing trend to engage contractors to spread muck has also led to machinery becoming higher in capacity and increasingly heavy duty to cope with increased workloads and more powerful tractors. READ MORE
Published in Equipment
May 25, 2017, Calgary, Alta. - Livestock Water Recycling has been named finalist for a Water Industry Achievement Award for Water Resource Management Initiative of the Year.

Organized by WET News and Water & Wastewater Treatment, the awards celebrate innovation and best practices in the water sector, and are highly prized within the industry.

Dairy and hog producers install the LWR System when they want smart, flexible, on-site nutrient recovery that allows them to expand their herds.

The LWR System holds the industry record for the most installations and is helping producers make valuable nutrient products that are easy to export while recycling clean water that is used to clean sand, irrigate crops, and even water back to the livestock.

"We are always pushing ourselves to consistently deliver leading-edge technologies to our customers while going above and beyond the call of duty," says Director of Operations, J.R. Brooks. "It is truly an honor to be recognized on this short list of companies who are each changing the water treatment landscape in their respective fields."

LWR has created the only proven system on the market that segregates and concentrates manure nutrients while recycling clean water that can be used back on the farm.

Today, over 590,000,000 million gallons of manure can be treated annually through LWR Systems that are currently installed across North America.

Not only are nutrient values maximized, but this method of manure treatment currently results in the potential recovery of over 400 million of gallons of clean, reusable water.

Enough water to fill 639 Olympic sized swimming pools, or the equivalent of the annual water consumption of over 13,000 Americans - and that number rises with every new installation.

"To be recognized among the water industry's elite is a result of our ongoing desire to provide the livestock industry with proven, reliable technology that truly adds value to farming operations. We are excited to showcase our technology on the world stage" adds Brooks.

Published in Companies
May 8, 2017, Des Moines, IA – The National Pork Producers Council will present the World Pork Expo on June 7 to 9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.

The event will bring thousands of pork producers, industry professionals and industry experts together for the world's largest pork industry-specific trade show, educational seminars, industry updates and networking opportunities.

The World Pork Expo has been held annually since 1987 and in 2016, the event saw more than 23,000 attendees.

For more information, visit https://www.worldpork.org/
Published in News
May 8, 2017, Nigeria, Africa - Chicken is a favorite, inexpensive meat across the globe. But the bird's popularity results in a lot of waste that can pollute soil and water.

One strategy for dealing with poultry poop is to turn it into biofuel, and now scientists have developed a way to do this by mixing the waste with another environmental scourge, an invasive weed that is affecting agriculture in Africa. They report their approach in ACS' journal Energy & Fuels. 

Poultry sludge is sometimes turned into fertilizer, but recent trends in industrialized chicken farming have led to an increase in waste mismanagement and negative environmental impacts, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Droppings can contain nutrients, hormones, antibiotics and heavy metals and can wash into the soil and surface water. To deal with this problem, scientists have been working on ways to convert the waste into fuel. But alone, poultry droppings don't transform well into biogas, so it's mixed with plant materials such as switch grass.

Samuel O. Dahunsi, Solomon U. Oranusi and colleagues wanted to see if they could combine the chicken waste with Tithonia diversifolia (Mexican sunflower), which was introduced to Africa as an ornamental plant decades ago and has become a major weed threatening agricultural production on the continent.

The researchers developed a process to pre-treat chicken droppings, and then have anaerobic microbes digest the waste and Mexican sunflowers together. Eight kilograms of poultry waste and sunflowers produced more than 3 kg of biogas — more than enough fuel to drive the reaction and have some leftover for other uses such as powering a generator. Also, the researchers say that the residual solids from the process could be applied as fertilizer or soil conditioner.

The authors acknowledge funding from Landmark University


Published in Biogas
May 3, 2017 - The AgSTAR Program will be hosting, Part two of the Innovative Business Models for Anaerobic Digestion webinar series.

The Webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 from 2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern Time.

Industry leaders from Noblehurst Farms Inc., EnviTec Biogas, and DVO, Inc. will review innovative business models for anaerobic digestion (AD) projects and discuss the hub-and-spoke model of hauling manure from several farms to a centralized digester, how to establish successful business arrangements with food waste producers, sustainable production of renewable energy and coproducts using AD and how AD project risks and benefits can be shared among multiple parties.

The webinar will include a question-and-answer session and participants will be encouraged to ask questions. Participation in the webinar is free. To register, visit: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5557285092277361154
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
April 28, 2017, Eindhoven, Netherlands - One Dutch artist is using chemistry to turn cattle manure into something that is both eco-friendly and valuable. Her innovative technique turns manure into a variety of useful materials like clothing fabric, bio-degradable plastic and paper.

In recent years, scientists around the world have made great progress in their attempts to recycle cattle manure, including turning it into natural fertilizer and biogas, but Eindhoven designer, Jalila Essaïdi didn't think they were efficient enough to solve the global manure surplus problem.

So, she started on her very own solution, one that approached animal waste as a valuable material that could be processed into useful products. The results of her work prove that manure really is worth its weight in gold.

Working in her BioArtLab, Essaïdi discovered that cow manure provided both the base for a new, bio-degradable material and the chemicals required to produce it.

She started by separating the waste, with the dry manure used to extract pure cellulose from the grass that cows eat. From the wet manure, she extracted acids used to create cellulose acetate, a natural liquid plastic. This was used to make fibers, which are later turned into fabric or bio-plastics, but it can also be freeze-dried to create an aerogel.

The new material was named Mestic, from mest, the Dutch word for manure. Essaïdi claims that it has the same properties as plastic derived from fossil fuels, but is bio-degradable. Better yet, the degradability can be tweaked in the lab, making it possible to create materials that last for different periods of time depending on their purpose. READ MORE


Published in News
April 25, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Innovative research is reshaping what is known about ammonia and related emissions from feedlots. And that new knowledge may help the industry to adjust its management, shape and react to public policy more effectively.

"Livestock are significant emission contributors," says Dr. Sean McGinn of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, a long-time researcher in the emissions area. "That's quite clear and generally recognized by the agricultural research community."

Some examples

Fifty to 60 percent of feed nitrogen is lost as ammonia at the feedlot. Eight to 10 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture and 90 percent of the atmospheric ammonia comes from cattle manure. Ammonia in the atmosphere is an economic loss because the nitrogen fertilizer potential of manure is lowered. And it's a health hazard. Ammonia mixes with acid to form fine aerosols, the white haze seen in confined airsheds.

"We know beef feedlots are 'hot spots' of ammonia emissions on the landscape, but we didn't know as much about the dynamics of ammonia emissions from feedlots. For example we didn't have real numbers from actual feedlots on how much is emitted, how much is deposited on nearby soil and how much re-emission occurs when that happens."

That's what McGinn and his colleague Dr. Tom Flesch (University of Alberta) set out to understand. Backed by funding from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), a two-year project investigated the fate of nitrogen in feedlots, what amount is deposited on land downwind and how much is carried long distances.

The other part of their research involves measuring methane and nitrous oxide, two prominent greenhouse gasses. Methane is produced by cattle due to the anaerobic digestion of feed in the cow's rumen and both nitrous oxide and methane come from stored manure in the pens.

The research produced significant results on several fronts from techniques to measure on a commercial scale, to new information on transfer, deposits and re-emission to nearby lands, to related opportunities for mitigation and management.

New measuring techniques

One major positive outcome was the development of new measuring technology adapted from what has been used successfully for measuring flare emissions in the oil and gas industry.

Using open path lasers that move over the feedlot and calculate concentration and wind characteristics, the system is able to measure emissions regardless of wind direction.

Measuring in real world situations offers some significant advantages to the more standard research protocols of using animals in individual chambers to measure emissions, says McGinn.

This new technique evaluates the feedlot as a whole, which means it can consider whole-unit management aspects which impact emissions. Also, by keeping animals in their natural environment and not interfering with them in any way, the laser approach promises more accurate, commercial scale results.

On a bigger picture level, this means actual feedlot emission numbers can be used in greenhouse gas assessments, an improvement from past practices of using estimates from global sources.

Early results show surprises

One of the surprises learned from this study was the fact that a significant fraction of ammonia was deposited on the land adjacent to the feedlot and, once deposited, how much was reemitted into the atmosphere.

"Our results illustrate the dynamics of reactive ammonia in the vicinity of a beef cattle feedlot," says McGinn. "It confirmed that a large portion of the nitrogen fed as crude protein is volatized from the feedlot's cattle manure. In the local vicinity of a feedlot, both ammonia deposition (14 percent of the emitted ammonia) and reemission occurred. That 14 percent is a large amount considering a typical feedlot emits one to two tonnes of ammonia per day."

There was a change in the soil captured ammonia that decreased with distance from the feedlot (50 percent over 200 m).

Industry implications

Logically it follows that quantifying the local dry ammonia deposition to surrounding fields is required when applying feedlot-based emissions to a large-scale emissions inventory, says McGinn. Failure to do that could mean badly misrepresenting the real situation.

"We need better emissions numbers to anchor effective public policy and fairly represent the feedlot industry in that data pool," says McGinn. "It's important to have research done before policy is set. The U.S. cattle feeding industry already has specific ammonia emission targets in place."

Related scientific paper here: "Ammonia Emission from a Beef Cattle Feedlot and Its Dry Local Deposition and Re-Emission."
Published in News

March 23, 2017, Emeryville, CA – New Logic Research recently announced the successful commissioning of a VSEP vibrating membrane system to make clean water from digested cow manure.

The VSEP system, located in the Italian Alps region of Wipptal, takes the effluent from an anaerobic digester and transforms it into clean water which can either be reused or safely discharged to the environment. The project was implemented with the expert assistance of O.B. Impianti, New Logic's distribution partner in Northern Italy.

Although cows have a simple diet, the digestive system of ruminant animals makes for complicated wastewater treatment scenarios. VSEP's vibratory shear mechanism, coupled with a filter pack design means, it can create crystal clear permeate from water heavily laden with biological material like cow manure.

"Digesters are great at making green power and reducing contaminant levels in the waste, but in most cases, further treatment of the liquid effluent is still necessary,” said Greg Johnson, CEO of New Logic. “Many have tried to treat digester effluent with standard spiral-wound reverse osmosis membrane systems only to find that it's incredibly difficult, if not impossible. That's why VSEP is a perfect fit for digester effluent treatment: you get the reverse osmosis separation you desire, but deployed in a robust system designed to tackle the world's toughest applications."

The Wipptal project is a cooperative one, taking cow manure from more than three-dozen local farmers. The liquid manure is transported to the treatment facility where more than 60 percent of it is transformed into clean water, while the remainder is turned into concentrated organic fertilizer. The only pretreatment between the digester and the VSEP is a 100-micron screening device to remove large particles from the feed material.

O.B. Impianti and New Logic are already building on the success of the Wipptal installation – they are currently working on two additional installations on the continent, where EU funding is frequently available for such projects.

Published in News

March 8, 2017, Los Angeles, CA – OriginClear Inc., a provider of water treatment solutions, recently announced its entry into the agricultural wastewater treatment market.

Spanish farming equipment manufacturing company, Montajes Longares, is launching a spinoff to commercialize its patented Depuporc pig manure slurry cleanup system, and has licensed OriginClear's Electro Water Separation (EWS) to help clarify and sanitize the slurry for water reuse and fertilizer applications.

There are more than 85,000 farms in Spain breeding more than 26 million pigs at any one time, making the country the largest pig producer in Europe, and third in the world after China and the U.S. EU regulations are tightening around nitrates discharge, creating increasing pressure on animal farmers to treat their effluents.

"For some time, we've been interested in the agricultural waste water treatment market," said Jean-Louis "JL" Kindler, president of OriginClear's technology division. "Our technology is well-suited to extracting organic contaminants and sanitizing agricultural waste water, and pig manure slurry is a great first application in this large and growing market. We're excited to have a partner who is licensing our technology into their patented system to solve agricultural water treatment challenges."

"We expect to use OriginClear's EWS to significantly reduce the need for chemicals such as coagulants and flocculants, while reducing equipment cost and footprint, and operating expense," said Francisco Longares Valero, CEO and co-founder of Depuporc S.L. "We plan to supply agricultural operators and service companies with mobile treatment units having a capacity of seven metric tons of water per hour, or more than 50,000 gallons per day, and fixed onsite plants able to treat as much as 10 million gallons, per year."

As part of its licensing commitment, Depuporc has acquired an OriginClear laboratory-scale unit to help its engineering team design and build a pilot system for immediate deployment at the site of a prospective client. With full support from its parent company, Depuporc has all the necessary resources for design, engineering, manufacturing, as well as commissioning and maintenance.

The Depuporc system is an integrated solution for livestock waste treatment that processes animal waste through various phases of filtering and separation, providing a source of recycled water for farm cleaning and irrigation. Depuporc S.L. plans to have the first pilot in operation before summer 2017.

Published in Swine

March 7, 2017 – Rotterdam-based architects are coming up with plans to transform the city through the construction of a floating dairy farm, which is expected to commence operation later this year.

The Floating Farm project team is led by Peter van Wingerden, Carel de Vries and Johan Bosman of property development company Beladon who see it as a way of bringing food production very close to the consumer when there is limited available space on land to do so. The designers aim to bring people into closer contact with the natural value of agriculture and horticulture, livestock farming and a healthy diet. READ MORE

 

Published in Dairy

 

In Europe, where intensive livestock production is common in countries like the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, concern has been raised about its environmental consequences, including runoff of excessively applied nitrate and phosphate contamination of surface water and soil.

Manure produced by intensive livestock production can lead to atmospheric emissions of ammonia, nitrous oxide, and mono-nitrogen oxides, like NO and NO2, especially when directly spread on cropland. In the 1990s, EU council, parliament and commission met to discuss possible solutions. Those discussions led to the implementation of new, more stringent regulations, including the nitrates directive – better known as 91/676/EEC – which limits application rates of livestock manure to arable land. These restrictions led farmers to look for alternatives, such as composting and biogas production.

In the Netherlands, where agricultural production is especially intensive, the issue prompted poultry farmers into action. Together, they came up with a unique solution – convert poultry manure into electricity.

“We were producing too much manure in comparison to the arable land we had,” explained Wil van der Heijden MBA, director at Duurzame Energieproductie Pluimveehouderij (DEP), a co-operative of more than 600 Dutch poultry farmers who supply the Moerdijk-based power plant with poultry manure for fuel. “We also had a problem with too much phosphate in the soil and nitrogen in the water.”

Van der Heijden is right; Dutch farmers do produce more manure than the arable land around them can use. The issue doesn’t just affect poultry farmers either. In fact, Dutch dairy farmers were recently told they have to reduce herd size in order to comply with EU phosphate regulations.

Overproduction of manure has also been a problem for Dutch poultry farmers. Each year, poultry in the Netherlands produce approximately 1.3 million tonnes of litter. Of that, 650,000 tonnes is exported to Germany, Belgium and France for use as fertilizer – a job that is facilitated by traders who make money by taking manure out of the hands of farmers and putting it into the hands of other farmers. For decades, Dutch poultry farmers were at the mercy of these traders, who charged €30-35 ($33.34 to $38.90 US) per tonne for removal. For a 100,000-bird broiler farm, this amounted to €30,000 to €35,000 ($33,350 to $38,900 US) each year, a hefty fee that left many struggling.

In 1998, Dutch poultry farmers met to discuss how they could separate themselves from the traders, as well as regulations and borders. Their solution was to join forces with a power plant and turn poultry manure into electricity. In 1999, the farmers formed DEP. The farmer members supply litter to BMC Moerdijk, a company that produces electricity using a fluidized bed combustor.

“They wanted to be independent from traders, from the weather, from the borders, and the regulations in Germany and France,” said Van der Heijden. “They learned that poultry manure could be used as fuel for electricity production and they found that there was some experience in the U.K., although very small scale.”

From conceptualization to the plant’s opening, it took 10 years for their plan to become a reality. First, explained DEP co-operative director Wil van der Heijden, they had to find the right location, which turned out to be Moerdijk, a town in the south of the Netherlands in the province of North Brabant. Then they had to apply for permissions and subsidies, look for partners and financing, and finally draw up fair contracts, which Van der Heijden said were crucial for reducing risk. Construction on BMC Moerdijk began in 2006 and concluded in 2008.

Financing for the plant came from the bank, which fronted 80 percent of the overall cost. The rest came from BMC Moerdijk’s shareholders. Delta, the company that buys the electricity BMC produces, owns 50 percent of the shares. The farmers association ZLTO and DEP own the remaining shares at 33 and 17 percent respectively.

While Dutch poultry farmers were once paying €30 to €35 ($33.34 to $38.90 US) per tonne to traders for removal, in 2008, when BMC started production, farmers who joined the co-operative were contracted at €20 ($22 US) per tonne. Immediately, the traders dropped their rate to match that of BMC’s, said Van der Heijden.

“We told farmers that we could process their manure for 10 years for between €15 and €20 ($16.65 US to $22 US) [per tonne],” he said. “That’s why they signed the contract. But immediately after that, the traders dropped the price to €20 ($22 US) – and then even dropped to €10 ($11 US) two years later. You can imagine that all the members in 2012 were very angry.”

Today, the farmers are happy. They now pay just €11.50 to €12 ($12.75 US to $13.30 US) per tonne.

“We dropped the price in 2013,”explained Van der Heijden. “We had to drop the price from €20 to €11 ($22 US to $12.20 US) or €12 ($12.75 US) because they were so pissed off… because they all wanted to move. And if there is no fuel, there is no possibility to produce electricity. So, we had to join them.”

Today, BMC processes some 430,000 tonnes of poultry manure – one-third of the total amount of poultry manure produced in the Netherlands – each year. Everyday, 60 trucks supply approximately 2,000 tonnes to the power plant. Using that manure, BMC generates 285,000 MWh of power each year. The plant uses a small amount of the electricity it produces and supplies approximately 245,000 MWh to the electrical grid. The electricity the company produces is enough to meet the needs of 80 percent of all Dutch poultry farmers for one year.

BMC Moerdijk doesn’t just produce electricity, though. It also produces ash, which is a by-product of the incineration process. The ash contains highly valuable minerals, like potassium and phosphorus. It is sold to customers in the agricultural and horticultural sectors outside of the Netherlands. Those customers use the ash, sold under the name PeaKsoil, as a fertilizer to improve soil.

In its first years of operation, BMC Moerdijk learned several important lessons. First, not all types of manure are suitable for processing.

“We thought poultry manure is poultry manure, but it isn’t,” said Van der Heijden. “There are a lot of differences between manure from layer hens and broilers, and turkeys and breeders.”

Storage was also an issue. Without storage the company sometimes had to work 15 days off and 15 days on. Today, BMC can store 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes.

“It is very important to have stable supply and demand,” explained Van der Heijden. “We also learned that the cooperative structure was useful for this type of corporation. We also learned that fixed contracts are very crucial because otherwise halfway all of the members would have left the co-operative. The fixed contracts were very useful for us and the bank to reduce the risks.”

Electricity from poultry manure is a cleaner alternative to direct land application, explained Gerd-Jan de Leeuw, MSc, at a recent visit to the plant. De Leeuw is responsible for the fuel and PeaKsoil at BMC Moerdijk. Electricity production from poultry manure saves on emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Spreading poultry manure on the land also causes larger emissions of NH3, N2O and NOx than combustion does. Finally, the ash that’s recovered has a lower mass and volume than the manure, making it more suitable for export to regions that require phosphate.

“All of the minerals, except nitrogen and organic matter, are in the PeaKsoil, so in the ash,” said De Leeuw. “We can sell it as a fertilizer. We sell it to countries where they have a phosphate demand.”

Those countries include Belgium, France and the United Kingdom where it has been especially useful in corn and wheat crops.

All in all, BMC has proven itself as a sustainable and reliable electricity producer. Dutch poultry farmers, as a result of their cooperation with BMC, have not only complied with their obligation to process poultry manure, but also helped reduce the Dutch phosphorus surplus by approximately 8,000,000 kg P2O5 each year. The company also contributes to the Netherlands’ goal of lowering CO2 emissions and using 14 percent renewable energy by 2020. Finally, BMC has helped reduce poultry farmers’ NH3 emissions by 25 percent since 2008.

This summer, BMC was in heavy discussion with DEP, as the 10-year contracts with its members are up at the end of 2017. The discussions were a great success with 87 percent of poultry farmer members renewing their contracts, which will start January 1, 2018. Those contracts expire at the end of 2029. On average, members will pay €6.50 ($7.20 US) per tonne, an amazing reduction since 2007.

 

 

 

Published in Poultry

 

A 16-year-old farm boy from Wisconsin; a middle-aged Michigan dairy farmer; a 56-year-old pig farmer and his 18-year-old hired hand, both from Quebec, Canada; two brothers from a dairying family in South Dakota; a 29-year-old cattle farmer, also from Wisconsin – 2016 was a dangerous year for those managing and handling manure.

According to reports, all of the people from this sampling of 2016 manure gas fatalities were going about their normal day-to-day work – spreading manure, making repairs, agitating a lagoon, servicing equipment. These were activities they’d probably done dozens of times before without incident.

 “Complacency kills,” stated Robb Meinen, a senior Extension associate with Penn State University, in a recent news release on manure gas safety. “It is not unusual in fatality situations to hear things like: ‘He’s gone in there to unclog that pump a hundred times.’”

It’s easy to take safety for granted. After all, we live in an increasingly bubble-wrapped world where even silica packets in shoeboxes warn us not to eat them. And while most farmers understand the dangers of entering enclosed spaces, such as pump pits and under-barn manure storages, some wouldn’t expect to find the same gas hazards working in an open-air area. But atmospheric conditions can play an important role in manure gas distribution.

That’s what investigators believe occurred to Mike Biadasz, an Amherst, Wisc., area farmer who died of acute exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas while agitating an outdoor manure lagoon on his family’s farm. A perfect storm of weather conditions – clear skies, no wind, heavy fog – caused the gases released during manure agitation to pool low to the ground, leading to the 29-year-old’s death.

In light of the tragedy, University of Wisconsin Extension held a manure gas safety webinar in early September to raise awareness of manure gases and update farmers about resources available to them. A recording of the presentation is available at Extension’s Agricultural Safety and Health website. During the 70-minute event, experts outlined the basics of manure gases, safety and monitoring recommendations, plus solutions to keep workers and livestock safe.

University of Wisconsin Extension is continuing its educational outreach by offering a workshop aimed at developing safety plans for manure storage and handling systems. It’s scheduled for Feb. 21 in Green Bay, Wisc., just prior to the 2017 Midwest Manure Summit.

While farming accidents are devastating to all involved, it’s important to learn from them.

The Biadasz family recognizes this. As a result of their son and brother’s death, they have opened a memorial fund in Mike’s name. The Mike Biadasz Farm Safety and Education Memorial Fund hopes to raise awareness and educate people about farm safety, including the dangers of manure gas. The fund, administered through the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, has received more than $40,000 in donations.

Please keep safety in mind as we head into 2017. Be careful out there.

 

 

 

Published in Other
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