October 5, 2015, Tucker, GA – “NESHAP 6C federal regulations apply to area source standards for gasoline dispensing facilities, and some people tend to miss NESHAP 6C when applying for air permits,” said Rechelle Hollowaty, senior air permitting and compliance engineer, Tyson Foods, during her “General Air Permitting Requirements and NESHAP 7D Overview” presentation at USPOULTRY’s 2015 Environmental Management Seminar in Destin, Fla.
Hollowaty reviewed the common sources applicable to construction permitting, including fuel sources, process sources, air pollution equipment and tanks. She also discussed NESHAP 7D compliance requirements, which are applicable to prepared feed manufacturers who add chromium and manganese compounds to their product. Hollowaty remarked that NESHAP 7D is “very subjective” in its wording related to “keeping exterior doors in immediate affected areas shut except during normal ingress and egress, as practicable.”
In his presentation on “UV Technology for Disinfection Systems,” Dr. Ted Mao, vice president of research, Trojan Technologies, described how ultraviolet (UV) light eliminates risk of acute illness due to waterborne pathogens by inactivating pathogens without using chemicals. Mao described the different types of UV lamps available, which are characterized by the mercury vapor pressure inside the lamp and the UV energy they produce. Mao observed that “UV disinfection is a chemical-free, environmentally friendly, low footprint technology, which is effective for a broad range of microorganisms.”
Jamie Burr, area environmental manager, Tyson Foods, provided a case study on the “Environmental Impact of Quaternary Compound Use” at one of Tyson Foods’ slaughter and further processing plants that processes roughly 600,000 birds per week.
Burr remarked, “NPDES permit compliance is a must. Intervention and sanitation chemical usage in the processing plants can seriously impact the health and effectiveness of our wastewater treatment facilities. This is a significant challenge today and will not get easier.”
Other topics included a Policy/Regulatory Update; General Duty Clause Compliance; Permitting Pitfalls; Clean Water Award Winners’ Virtual Plant Tours; TRI Reporting for the Poultry Industry; Sodium Hypochlorite Storage Requirements; Microbial Intervention Chemicals Use: Quaternary Use in Biological Nutrient Removal Plants; Stormwater Treatment Challenges and Technology; and Biosolids Handling Opportunities.
September 1, 2015 – The recent outbreak of avian influenza, a highly contagious viral disease that has infected about 48 million birds in the United States, resulted in a significant loss to the poultry industry. The initial response by the poultry industry to prevent widespread avian influenza was to more stringently enforce the U.S. Department of Agriculture biosecurity measures defined by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
However, the continuous spread of the avian influenza made the industry wonder if the disease is airborne and transmitted through ventilation air of poultry facilities. We are looking at major air emissions — ammonia gas and dust particles — from poultry facilities and their potential effects on poultry health to explore the need of additional biosecurity measures to prevent transmission of infectious diseases among poultry in the future. READ MORE
Turning and adding water to the compost heap located at the City of Yellowknife landfill ensures that high quality compost is created. It is managed by Ecology North. Photo by Contributed
Egg producer Choice North Farms generates almost 3,850 tons of poultry manure annually that it landfills on a designated leased site. The owners wondered if there was a better use for this byproduct and the idea of composting came to mind. If successful, this could help boost farm production in northern Canada by providing a much-needed building block for developing productive soils.
The farm houses about 117,000 laying hens producing about 37 million eggs per year near Hay River in the Northwest Territories (NWT). It is working with an organization called Ecology North, the NWT government, the Canadian government, the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI) and Town of Hay River on its composting venture. The plan is to start with a 210 cubic yard pilot scale site involving the use of about 10 tons of manure this summer to test various mixing methods and outcomes, with the goal of developing a full scale site consisting of an area of about 23,500 cubic yards as a commercial composting operation, hopefully by next summer.
Choice North Farms is owned and managed by Glen Wallington and his son, Michael. They own part of the operation and manage another part for a separate egg producer, all under one roof. They started producing eggs under the Choice North Farms label about three years ago and are among the largest egg producers in NWT as well as being a supporter of the Polar Egg initiative. Since 2012, the Polar Egg Company has been certified to grade eggs locally so that not all eggs are shipped to southern markets but also supplied for human consumption in retail stores in the North.
At present, their raw manure is collected on plastic conveyor belts and removed from the barns daily, representing about one dump truck load per day that is transported to a designated landfill area 14 miles from the barns.
The objective of the composting project is to mix raw poultry manure with waste paper and wood. The paper and wood are necessary as part of the conversion process to produce compost. Because of that, Choice North Farms sales and marketing representative, Kevin Wallington, says they are in discussions with governments such as the City of Yellowknife and Town of Hay River, as well as industries dealing with waste paper, such as paper shredding companies and the Yellowknife newspaper, to discuss possible alliances in the composting venture. Kevin is also Glen’s son, as well as sales and marketing director for Polar Egg.
“The composting venture was initiated by us,” says Kevin. “In past years, there had been studies done on old poultry sites to see if there was any feasibility in it. But I don’t think there was really a will on the industry side. It really has to be championed by industry to participate in a venture like this.”
The concept is to establish an open-turned windrow system where the manure, paper and wood are piled into 16 feet wide by 10 feet tall windrows. At full-scale operation, 3,770 tons of poultry manure generated by the egg farm will be combined with 3,080 tons of paper and 550 tons of wood to produce about 4,450 cubic yards of compost annually. One of the benefits of composting is that through biological activity, it reduces the volume of the raw materials, and produces a marketable, pathogen and weed-free compost that can be used as a soil amendment in a variety of growing environments.
Either a wheel loader or pile turner could be used to turn the piles as needed to improve airflow and encourage the conversion process. Not only does Choice North Farms want to convert their current production of manure, but also to use the thousands of tonnes of poultry manure that they have accumulated in their nearby landfill over the past 15 years.
“This project is a benefit to us because if we didn’t compost, then effectively the landfill becomes a liability for us,” says Kevin. “Some of those pits are fairly deep and I don’t think you’d have to dig too low below the surface to find that it is fairly fresh after it’s been there for some time.”
He adds there are no issues with the landfill currently, “but I know that the government is excited about our project because the North is full of stories where people just walked away from things.”
This is one reason why Ecology North became interested in partnering with the egg producer on this project. Kim Rapati, former Ecology North Hay River regional officer and currently operations manager of NFTI, says they were interested in kickstarting a composting initiative in one of the NWT’s larger communities as a way to demonstrate how waste can be diverted from landfills. They decided to partner with Choice North Farms to build a composting operation similar to one they helped to establish and continue to manage in Yellowknife.
Wallington says the egg producer had no experience with composting and that is a major benefit that Ecology North has brought to the partnership, providing the technical know-how needed to launch a composting venture.
Ecology North has been around since 1971 and describes itself as a charitable, non-profit organization headquartered in Yellowknife to support sound environmental decisions made on an individual, community or regional level. Its program focus on three priority areas: public education and awareness; climate change; and, sustainable living.
Last year, the organization presented the finding of its study called, Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River, to Choice North Farms, the Town of Hay River, the Territorial Farmers Association, and Environment Canada. The study conducted by Rapati concluded the poultry composting concept was feasible.
Savings in diverting paper waste from the Hay River landfill to the poultry farm composting site was estimated at almost 18,300 cubic yards of space, a savings of just over $2 million per year. The project costs of establishing the site were estimated at about $350,000, with additional capital costs of $459,000 and annual operating costs of nearly $136,000. To recover those costs, the study estimated that there was the potential to generate just over $235,000 per year in compost sales, with the sales and marketing handled by Choice North Farms.
The egg producer has been speaking to the NWT government for a couple of years about acquiring a fresh parcel of land for the composting site, separate from its existing manure management landfill. It is located about 330 yards from the stockpiled manure in the landfill for easy access.
“The culture of the North for a long time has been dumping,” says Wallington. “Management doesn’t really come into play because we have a lot of space. Unfortunately, a lot of times what that means is that if you don’t have any major issues, you can just continue as you always have.”
However, the agriculture industry is starting to grow in NWT, and he believes that this composting initiative demonstrates leadership on a part of a current northern industry participant that can help set a higher standard for newcomers to this sector.
Rapati agrees that interest in agriculture is definitely growing in the North and that will be a big part of the mandate of NFTI as it develops the 260 farm acres near Hay River under its management. She says that compost is a highly valued commodity in the North because there is so little arable land available in the region to pursue farming ventures in or near the region’s many small communities. However, interest in agricultural practices is very high. Addition of compost to what she described as ‘young soils’ will provide community members with the opportunity to establish and develop their farming skills. Many are expected to obtain those skills through their participation in NFTI programming.
From a technical standpoint, poultry manure is high in nitrogen and phosphorus and requires the addition of carbon for the overall composting process to work. Choice North Farms is relying on the mentorship and experience provided by Ecology North and is also working with a laboratory in Yellowknife to establish the proper mix to produce high quality compost as an end product. Rapati says that despite the sub-arctic temperatures in northern Canada, it is possible to produce high quality compost, but it takes longer because the air temperature do not stay warm for as long as areas further south. The temperature in the windrows is required to achieve at least 131 F for 15 days and turned five times to ensure that the conversion is complete. Producing compost is more of a time management process in the North adapted to suit local conditions. For example, it has been Ecology North’s practice to produce compost over two seasons in Yellowknife – one season to complete the active conversion process and then a second season to let the compost stabilize to its final form, although in reality, Rapati says the conversion to marketable compost could probably be managed in one season. The frequency of turning and adding moisture to the piles depends on air temperature, airflow and moisture content readings to encourage uniform conversion are taking place within the piles. One advantage of composting in the North is that it has the space to conduct open-windrow composting and because of its sparse population, there are few if any odor complaints.
Kevin says Choice North Farms is excited about the opportunity and eager to get started.
“This is going to be business-driven, probably supported by various organizations, including the government,” says Kevin. “At the end of the day, we would like to have a product that we can sell and use in the North.”
July 24, 2015, Princess Anne, MD – Thomas Kerchner and his wife, Sherri, are selling their dream home, blaming poultry houses that have sprouted in the area for the move.
Neighbors point to more than 50 chicken houses within a three-mile radius of the Backbone Road corridor, off Peggy Neck Road and close to the Manokin River, one of the state’s most polluted. At least 67 more chicken houses are permitted and in various stages of construction in Somerset County. READ MORE
June 19, 2015, Lewes, DE – Poultry growers in other regions of the country have been using on-farm freezer collection units for more than 20 years, and now the practice is positioned for widespread adoption on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Federal and state nutrient management agencies in Delaware and Virginia recently designated freezer units as a best management practice that is eligible for cost-share funding. In fact, the first group of farms approved for financial assistance are being notified this month by the Delaware Office of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Funding is provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. READ MORE
June 17, 2015, Des Moines, IA – Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation this week that will allow poultry and egg producers in 18 counties hit by bird flu to more easily dispose of manure and dead birds from affected farms.
As the number of new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza slows, poultry farms have turned their attention to clean up and repopulation following the worst-ever U.S. outbreak of the virus that has claimed more than 47 million birds nationwide. READ MORE
May 15, 2015, Chambersburg, PA – The planning committee for the 2015 North American Manure Expo (NAME) – being held July 14-15, 2015, near Chambersburg, Penn. – understand that some of the best opportunities for learning occur when you can see things up close and personal.
And what better opportunity for people to see and learn about the latest in manure management equipment and techniques than when it’s in action on the farm?
Three full-day tours covering different themes – dairy, poultry and equine/beef – have been planned for the 2015 North American Manure Expo and are being held July 14. A fourth part-day tour is also available.
While the tours are free to attend, preregistration is required. You can do so by visiting manureexpo.org.
Dairy – The tour begins with a visit to Mercer Vu Dairy where attendees will learn about dual manure separation technologies, storage cover systems, mortality management, static dragline plus a unique calf feeding system and feed management planning.
The next stop is Slate Ridge Dairy where there will be a discussion of cropping and manure strategies plus a small-scale anaerobic digester tour, including a grain dryer using heat and power from the digester.
The final stop will be Burkholder Dairy, which will include a tour of the operation’s solid separation area plus numerous demonstrations: agitation equipment (concrete storage), dragline, manure gas monitoring equipment, phosphorus removal technology, agitation using lagoon boats (earthen basin). There will also be a summary of gas level observations taken during the demonstration.
Agitation only – A part-day tour is also available, leaving in the afternoon. This tour will meet up with the full-day dairy tour at Burkholder Dairy to take part in the events and demonstrations being held there.
Poultry – The first stop of the tour is Lesher Poultry. Here attendees will learn about the farm’s manure management strategies and view the operation’s layer manure compost facility and existing layer manure collection system. This includes a demonstration of compost turning equipment. There will also be an opportunity to tour a new enriched colony layer housing facility that is expected to be populated July 25.
After lunch at Caledonia State Park, the tour continues to Hillandale Poultry, where attendees will learn about the farm’s manure management strategies and manure collection system.
The final stop will be the EnergyWorks Poultry Manure Gasification Plant where there will be discussion of manure and nutrient strategies, nutrient trading programs, manure by-product development, electric production plus a tour of the facility.
[Please note: Due to biosecurity concerns related to the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus, currently affecting poultry producers in various areas of the U.S., the full-day poultry-themed tour scheduled for July 14 has been cancelled. The Manure Expo planning committee apologizes for the agenda change and any confusion it may cause.]
Equine/Beef – Attendees will visit Wilson College where they will take part in a stable, training facility and pasture tour. Discussion will include manure collection and storage, manure utilization, the value of manure nutrients, basics of soil productivity, water flow on farm grounds and heavy-use areas, parasite management and evaluating pasture.
The second tour stop will be Kiskaddon Beef Farm where attendees will learn about the operation’s manure management strategies plus concrete barnyard improvements and stacking, controlling water runoff, irrigating using gray water and supplemented rotational grazing.
All of the tours will be bussed back to the North American Manure Expo grounds in Chambersburg, Penn. where attendees will be able to visit with various trade show vendors and enjoy dinner. A selection of education sessions will also be held, covering everything from manure auctions to gas safety plus new product launches.
May 8, 2015 – The 2015 North American Manure Expo, taking place July 14 and 15, 2015, near Chambersburg, Penn., will soon be here. The annual event provides an opportunity for custom applicators and livestock producers to advance their knowledge of manure-nutrient utilization while showcasing the latest technology in manure handling, treatment and application.
Activities get underway July 14 with tour day. Attendees can register to take part in one of several tour options. Topics include dairy/agitation, small farm-equine and a half-day agitation demonstration tour. All the tours will meet up at a dairy farm for a vendor demonstration of dragline application and manure agitation equipment, including stationary and boat technologies. Following the demonstration, the participants will return to the expo grounds where they can visit trade show vendors and attend several educational sessions through the evening.
The key to Manure Expo is demonstrations and 2015 offers a wide variety, including both solid and liquid manure application. July 15 provides an opportunity for attendees to view side-by-side demonstrations of equipment, allowing them to view and compare technologies. Nowhere else can the audience kick the tires in such a large, industry-specific forum.
The 2015 expo theme is Manure Than You Can Handle, which reflects the wide range of continuing education opportunities the event offers. Here, certified manure haulers and farmers can learn about important topics surrounding this critical area of animal production. The scope of the event allows exposure of experts from across the U.S. and even worldwide.
Another important element of Manure Expo is the one-of-a-kind trade show. The event planning committee will transform a field of wheat stubble into a mini manure city, providing attendees an opportunity to talk to manufacturers, dealers and other experts in the manure industry.
As the Manure Expo continues to evolve every year, one new promotional twist for 2015 is a T-shirt contest that is just plain fun.
The slogan for the Pennsylvania show – 2015 Manure Expo: Manure than you can Handle! – is an amusing play on words. To help continue the fun, a T-shirt with the slogan on the front is being created. On the back of the shirt will be the “Top 10 Rejected Manure Expo Slogans.”
More than 400 suggestions have been collected to date but organizers are sure that some of the crappiest have yet to be suggested. A few examples include:
- Manure Expo: Immerse yourself
- Manure Expo: Where nobody stands behind their product
- You provide the creek, we provide the paddle
T-shirts will be available for free to the first 600 people that register for the event on the website and redeem their printed registration form at the Manure Manager magazine booth on July 15. Shirts will be available for purchase on the website in the weeks leading up to, and after, the Manure Expo, although shipment will not occur until after July 15 – we wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise of discovering which rejected slogans were chosen.
People who submit a slogan that makes the T-shirt will receive a free shirt.
To learn more and register for events, visit manureexpo.org.
April 29, 2015, Pocomoke City, MD — On an overcast Friday morning, Jason Lambertson goes through one door, then another, and peers across a long, warm, dusky room at the 80,000 teenagers whose poop the state expects him to clean up.
Granted, the teenagers are young chickens, owned and cared for on Millennium Farms for the Tyson Food Co. And as the sulfuric aroma of their waste rises out of the chicken house, Lambertson said he is determined to make the birds’ manure usable on his fields despite new state regulations that limit the practice. READ MORE
March 26, 2015, Baltimore, MD – Legislation restricting phosphorus use on Eastern Shore farms may be on its dying breath after a Senate bill was referred back to committee — clearing the way for the larger compromise.
After Gov. Larry Hogan and Assembly Democrats announced the sides had reached an agreement on a new version of Hogan's regulations, Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-22-Prince George's, referred his bill back to the Health, Education and Environmental Affairs committee. The bill mirrored former Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan for restricted the use of chicken manure on Shore farmers, which was pulled by Gov. Hogan at the last minute before publication in the Maryland Register. READ MORE
February 18, 2015, Parker, SD – A group of Turner County homeowners is suing the county commission and the owners of a proposed chicken farm in hopes of putting a stop to the $85 million development.
Opponents say the commission used a fax from the farm's owner to re-write the county's zoning ordinance at the last minute and without public input, in a way that made it possible to site the six million-hen operation less than three miles from Parker city limits. READ MORE
Air-air heat exchanger developed in the Netherlands specifically for the poultry industry.
An innovative minimum ventilation system for poultry barns is improving bird health and reducing energy costs for farmers in the process. And it comes with some environmental benefits too – lower ammonia levels and better dust control.
In 2013, Jack Van Ham and his son, Jerry, were able to secure cost-share funding from the Implementation Funding Assistance Program under Growing Forward 2 (GF2) to become the first poultry farmers in Ontario to install an air-air heat exchanger developed in the Netherlands specifically for the poultry industry.
The Van Hams are based in Oxford County, Ontario, where they have two farms with identical broiler barns built between 1999 and 2003, and grow 2.3 kg birds in an eight-week cycle.
“We knew this technology was available in the Netherlands, where farmers can recoup heat from dry manure in layer barns, and they are seeing overall savings of about 50 per cent in energy costs,” says Jack Van Ham.
The system evolved out of a European Union regulation that restricted ammonia output from poultry barns.
It uses the energy of the warm air from the barn to heat the cold, fresh air coming in from the outside, replacing the propane or natural gas farmers traditionally use to heat poultry barns, and reducing on-farm energy costs.
Warm air from the barn enters the heat exchanger, passing through tubes where the cold outside air absorbs the heat before being circulated into the barn. A computerized control system manages airflow and fan speeds, adjusting for fluctuating outside temperatures according to the season.
The bigger the differential between inside and outside temperature, the more heat the system will recoup, says Jack.
The minimum ventilation system improves the air circulation to rid barns of humidity, allowing manure to dry more quickly. This minimizes ammonia production and reduces its output into the environment from the barn by fans.
The drier inside air also means a better environment for both barn workers and the birds, with the Van Hams, for example, noticing fewer foot lesions due to better quality litter and improved overall bird health. This has meant a reduction in health-related expenses on the farm.
The Van Hams made some changes to their systems to adapt them to the Canadian environment, such as switching the electrical work to Canadian standards, and adjusting the computer software to account for Canada’s winter temperatures, which are much colder than they are in the Netherlands.
Due to its unique status of being the first of its kind in Ontario, the project qualified for additional funding under GF2’s innovation designation.
“We might not have done this project without the grant as it’s a big investment,” admits Jerry Van Ham, but adds that it has yielded a lot of environmental benefit, as well as decreasing their natural gas costs.
“The air quality is tremendous. We saved a lot on energy last winter, but the air quality for the chickens has really improved,” adds Jack, explaining that although the system has raised their electricity costs, the natural gas savings more than make up for that increase.
Industry interest in the system has been high, and the Van Hams are no longer the only farmers in Ontario using the technology.
They’ve shared what they’ve learned with poultry specialists from the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), as well as with fellow producers.
“This system would be especially ideal for barns with birds in them all year long, like broiler breeders, as it can be hard to get the dampness out,” says Jack.
GF2 is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative aimed at encouraging innovation, competitiveness, market development, adaptability, and industry capacity in Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector.
Lilian Schaer is a writer for the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
February 12, 2015, Easton, MD — The University of Maryland Extension has created a one-day workshop for new poultry farmers in Delmarva that will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, March 5, at the University of Maryland’s Somerset County Extension Office in Princess Anne.
The topics that will be addressed are farm management, site management and maintenance, best management practices, mortality, manure handling, litter management, windbreaks/vegetative environmental buffers, finances and record keeping, concentrated animal feeding operation regulations, nutrient management, comprehensive nutrient management plans, inspections and emergency preparedness.
A certificate of completion will be awarded to each participant.
January 26, 2015, Milford, DE – Milford poultry farmers Robert and Lisa Masten were honored recently as one of three runners-up for the 2014 Environmental Stewardship Award during Delaware Agriculture Week at the state fairgrounds in Harrington.
The honor recognized their efforts to prevent chicken waste from entering the water supply, while also improving water quality on and around their farm. READ MORE
January 26, 2015, Millsboro, DE – Millsboro poultry farmer William W. Clifton was honored recently as one of three runners-up for the 2014 Environmental Stewardship Award.
The runner-up award recognized Clifton’s efforts to reduce chicken waste from entering the water supply, while improving water quality on and around his farm. READ MORE
Some farmers buy chicken litter for their fields to avoid using commercial fertilizers. The Glasers took it one step further. They added a large turkey operation – producing approximately 600,000 birds a year – to guarantee their supply.
The Glaser family, owners of Bar G Ranch Poultry in Rogers, Texas, owns 500 acres and leases another 250. On that land, which has been in the family for three generations, they run 200 cow/calf units. They also raise turkeys for Cargill Turkey Production, LLC, in four 450-foot by 50-foot turkey houses, with each house holding 30,000 birds.
The birds are raised from one day to six weeks, and are changed out five times year. When the birds come out, front end loaders come in and remove 250 to 300 tons of litter – one of the main reasons for the turkeys.
“We built the whole system to integrate the turkey operation with the cattle operation,” says owner Darrell Glaser. “I saw right away that the litter was going to make the difference. That we could save a lot on fertilizer costs on our cattle operation, and improve our soil. It’s done so much for our organic matter and our water holding capacity of the soil. It’s turned our whole operation around.”
The transformation began 20 years ago in the mid 1990s. Darrell’s family farm wasn’t profitable and his mother Jeanette was faced with either selling or leasing the farm. Darrell, who was getting his master’s in nutrition, and his wife Shannon, who was completing her master’s degree in biochemistry, had to decide if they wanted to go back.
“Coincidentally, when I was completing my master’s degree, I took over a nutrition lab from a lady whose parents were contract-growing turkeys for Plantation Foods, and the whole idea started there,” says Darrell. “We had to figure out a way to make the family profitable. We started in research and ended up in production agriculture.”
Darrell and Sharon found a way to balance careers and farm life, and set out to turn the farm around. One of the first steps was adding turkeys to provide the much needed fertilizer.
“When I came back from college, we had a farming ranch and we were running some row crop. We converted everything over to improve pasture with different coastal Bermuda grass, some Tifton 85 coastal. We also did some cross fencing for better rotational grazing, and then utilized the litter,” says Glaser, now 47.
Since then, the Glasers have doubled their stocking rate, all due to incorporating turkey litter, which in turn improved the soil condition, fertility and water holding capacity. They make it all happen with two full-time employees, as well as Glaser team, which includes Darrell and his four sons: Trenton, 18, Trevor and Troy, who are 13, and 11-year-old Travis.
Moving the litter
When it comes time to spread, Darrell leans on a local farmer.
“He has a pretty good system,” explains Darrell. “He has three flat bottom floor trucks, and as soon as we bring the manure out of the houses, he loads it and takes it to the spots where it’s going to be put it on the farm ground.”
Luckily, the farm is located where spreading can take place year round, although it tends to take place most often in the spring and fall.
The litter that’s not spread on-farm is used by neighboring farmers. Nothing goes to waste – including the mortalities. Because the ranch is a brooder farm, raising such young turkeys, they may lose 25 to 30 birds a day. The Glasers incinerate the mortalities and the ash is added to the litter that’s spread on the pasture.
“They’re very small, so you don’t really have a lot of mortality to deal with,” says Darrell. “That’s why the incineration works the best for us.”
Controlling the cows not the turkeys
The Glasers don’t have a lot of control over the turkey operations. It’s fairly standardized and most of the management decisions are made by Cargill. That works out, because the Glasers aren’t focusing on big margins with the turkeys. Instead, the focus is on the cows where they do have control and are trying innovative things.
“We run a purebred Beefmaster operation. And we use an embryo transfer program and work to establish cows that do better on grass and are more efficient converters of feed. So, we’re working on both sides of the system,” says Darrell. “What we’ve done in our cattle operation is we’ve tried to increase the quality of our cattle through better animals that use the grass better, which in turn allows us to market those for a premium also.”
Proactive water planning
Twenty years ago, when the Glasers set out to change things around, water quality management wasn’t yet an industry standard. But the ranch was proactive and has operated under a water quality management plan since the very first day birds were placed on the farm in 1994.
“We worked with the soil conservation service on managing our litter and following guidelines to try and make sure the soil was cared for and there was no over fertilizing,” says Darrell.
And the extra effort was worth it.
“We didn’t run into a lot of problems that a lot of places had where they had been raising birds for years prior and then they started testing their soils and found out they had a tremendous excess of phosphorus in the soil, then had to stop using their litter,” he says. “Because we started managing from the beginning, we’ve been able to continuously use our litter from the very start because we’ve kept a very close eye on the phosphorous levels in the soils. And we’ve managed our application rates to our yield goals, like how many cattle per acre or how much hay we wanted to produce. And we test every year to make sure that we’re not getting an imbalance of our nutrients.”
Management practices have worked well. To date, the farm has never had an excess nutrient buildup.
One of the other things the Glasers did when they decided to increase their cattle was to build five new clay-bottom ponds, 6,000 yards each, in addition to the five Darrell’s grandfather had originally dug. Again, they worked with soil conservation folks.
“They came out, looked at the property, surveyed and said here’s where you should put your ponds and that’s what we did,” says Darrell.
The ponds provide a water source for the cattle, help handle drainage and run off and add value to the property because there is more water-holding capacity. The ponds also provide wildlife habitat and help prevent soil erosion.
Awards & education
The work they’re doing has been getting recognition. This year, the farm was one of the recipients of the USPoultry’s 2014 Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award, where farms are judged on dry litter management, nutrient management planning, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques, innovative nutrient management techniques and participation in education or outreach programs.
Darrell believes education is the key to the future of family. That doesn’t mean doing anything more than just speaking to people and letting people know where their food comes from.
“We always talk about agriculture. Since we began our turkey operation we’ve raised almost 14 million turkeys. When someone asks that question and you say that, they’re very intrigued and want to know how in the world do you raise 14 million turkeys. Then I tell them the brands of product that you would see that possibly would have come through our farm.
“In my opinion it’s absolutely critical to our industry that we be good stewards and also share the knowledge of what goes on in our farms in a factual manner because there’s so much out there that may not be true. They need to know that, for the most part, we take good care of the land because that’s where our livelihood comes from.”
The Glasers have lots of plans ahead – more ponds, better soil, improved cattle operation through breeding and efficiencies – and it still all hinges on the litter.
“The whole key is how we’ve integrated the turkey and cattle operations together to produce a least cost system. The turkeys benefit the cattle, in that they produce the litter, which saves us a lot of money on commercial fertilizer. Then the cattle benefit from the turkeys because the labor I use on the turkey farm also works on the cattle operation – maximizing my labor force. So it’s just a least cost system that just works really well.”
Darrell adds, “We’ve been able to do it for this number of years and are seeing continuing improvement. Some of the things we’ve put in place for years, we’re starting to see the plan come to fruition. After 20 years, we’re reaping the rewards.”
The anaerobic digester pilot plant is taking shape at Millennium Farms. Once complete, it will produce biogas from 1500 tons of poultry manure produced annually at the farm and also separate phosphorus from the nutrient stream. Photo Contributed.
Maryland is getting serious about controlling the amount of poultry-derived nutrients seeping into Chesapeake Bay, and poultry producer Millennium Farms is developing a manure processing technology that, if economical, could make a significant dent in controlling this problem.
Jason Lambertson, owner of Millennium Farms and a longtime poultry producer in the state, has partnered with a group of local businessmen and technical experts in a company called Planet Found Energy Development to build a pilot plant at the Pocomoke City area farm that will use anaerobic digestion of poultry manure to produce biogas as a fuel to generate power. The system includes nutrient separation technology to ensure that phosphorous is reduced from the byproduct stream before it has the opportunity to potentially seep into Chesapeake Bay if land applied.
Construction on the pilot project began in the spring. Completion and commissioning will likely occur in early 2015. Developers are hoping to construct the pilot plant as economically as possible with the State of Maryland contributing over $674,000 to use primarily to install and refine the nutrient recovery system. It will separate the nutrient streams from the processed manure. The funds were provided through the state’s revitalized Department of Agriculture Animal Waste Technology Fund.
Because of the impact that nutrients flowing into Chesapeake Bay are having on water quality, the state is discussing the possibility of limiting raw poultry manure application, which could limit producers to application on only 15 percent of available farmland. Should this limitation proceed, this would result in a massive shortfall of land available for poultry manure application compared to the size of the industry.
“It could get to the point where it would affect the poultry industry trying to be viable here if the farmers did not utilize the manure,” says Lambertson. “It could really harm the industry and that’s what we don’t want to happen.”
That’s why so many, including government representatives at various levels, are watching to determine the viability of the manure treatment technology being investigated at Millennium Farms. This is also what motivated Lambertson and other local investors to partner with a group of scientists with knowledge about anaerobic digestion on the Planet Found Energy Development business to build a pilot version of a potential system.
The anaerobic digestion technology being installed at the poultry farm was adapted from technology that has been common in other parts of the world for decades. However, this will be the first poultry anaerobic digester installed in Maryland with added nutrient separation.
The system starts with the farmer dumping loads of raw poultry manure into the introduction tank where the manure is mixed with water. From there, the slurry is pumped into one of two anaerobic digestion tanks. They are large, 200 cubic meter tanks in which the biogas produced from processing the poultry manure bubbles to the top before being captured and transported to an engine where it is burned as fuel to drive a generator on site. The processed material exits the tanks and flows through the nutrient recovery system where the undesirable nutrients can be stripped out and the remainder transported to a post treatment pit where it is dried. At this point, it is a usable mulch that can be spread on the fields without restriction or sold as organic fertilizer. There are two other tanks in the system. One is a buffer tank that allows system operators to better control the material being processed in the anaerobic digesters so that they work at optimum biogas production efficiency. The other is a clean water holding tank that helps to control the water flow through the closed loop system.
“We were bent on building the pilot, but with the help of the state, it is making it that much easier for us to obtain quantifiable results and show farmers that there are some open pathways to be able to generate renewable energy on site for their benefit,” says Lambertson. Monitoring and research assistance is being provided by the United States Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland.
Even if the land application restrictions don’t come about and the system demonstrates how farms can produce fertilizer and reduce energy costs, Lambertson says, “it could be a win-win for the farmer.”
Millennium Farms was chosen as the ideal site for a pilot plant because it is a modern computerized and automated facility in an area where the land has high levels of phosphorus and it is close to Chesapeake Bay. So it is in the backyard of where the technology is needed the most. The farm produces 160,000 pullets for Tyson Foods annually, which equates to over 12 million broilers from the parent flock. In total, there are eight barns that generate about 1500 tons of manure. The manure is a mixture of wood shavings used as bedding and animal droppings. Millennium Farms also grows corn, wheat and soybean on 2000 acres, and typically their poultry manure would be land applied as an organic fertilizer and a means of disposing of it. As with other poultry farms in area, the issue is the amount of phosphorus in that raw manure and its impact on local waterways.
The Lambertson family has been producing chickens since the 1950s, but Jason built his current farm starting with four barns in 2000 and adding four barns in 2009. Although they have had adequate farmland in the past to dispose of their poultry manure, the state’s consideration of limiting field application is a concern.
Once operational, the anaerobic digestion system will produce about 520 daily kilowatts (kW) of power that will be wheeled through the local Choptank Electric Cooperative transmission system. The farm will be compensated and save money on its power costs through a net metering system. Lambertson says because the system is a pilot project, they have yet to determine if the system will be capable of providing all of the poultry farm’s power needs.
“We’ll definitely be able to make a good reduction on our energy bills on the farm,” says Lambertson. They will know how much once the project is commissioned next year.
The byproduct that is discharged from the digestion tanks can be land applied, sold as fertilizer or potentially reused as bedding.
Heat generated by the anaerobic digestion system not needed to maintain the process could also be channeled to heat the poultry barns, thus creating the possibility of the farm saving a lot of money on propane heating costs. Additionally, some of the biogas could be used as heating fuel.
These are all the factors that are yet to be determined once the Millennium Farms system becomes operational.
If proven economical, Lambertson says that there are thousands of similar poultry farms in the state or Delvarva Peninsula where the system could be installed. The dream, once this technology is proven, is for Planet Found Energy Development to build and operate systems capable of producing significantly more power. They are working with the state to consider larger systems with a number of poultry producers supplying raw material for one system. The goal is to develop a system where the farm owner will only need to replenish the system with raw poultry manure and remove the processed material to a storage area once a day.
There will be no water discharge from the system as it is described as a closed loop system where all the water used to create a raw material slurry at the front end of the digester is captured and recycled within the system, which in itself will control the amount of nutrient-rich water leaving the farm that could potentially seep into local watercourses.
As far as the nutrient separation technology, Lambertson says it can be adjusted according to the needs of a particular area. While the issue is controlling the phosphorus in Maryland, another area might have a problem with sulfur content. So the system is adjustable to local requirements.
They also want to build considerable flexibility into the system so that it will work using a variety of raw feedstock. For example, there are areas where there are no wood shavings mixed in with the manure, so it has to have the capability to be able to process, “a random mix of materials.”
It also has to have the capability of being customized in size to match the needs of individual farms, depending on how much manure the farm is generating.
The owners of Planet Found Energy Development expected extra costs to build what is essentially the prototype of their system at Millennium Farms, but Lambertson says they have already recognized many areas that can be changed in the future to streamline the system and reduce construction costs.
Should the byproduct prove useful as a reusable bedding material, this could be a substantial savings for Tyson Foods, which supplies the wood shavings bedding to its growers in that area.
The overall support being expressed for proving this technology has helped to maintain the momentum through the challenging construction phase of the pilot project.
“We have the Department of Environment, Agriculture and Energy all sitting there together, all agreeing how this could help, and it’s rare to have all three of them agreeing that something like this could help to solve some of our problems,” says Lambertson.
March 14, 2014, Finlayson, MN – Luoma Egg Ranch, an egg producer near Finlayson, Minn., was fined $95,000 by state pollution regulators for violations stemming from chicken manure spills.
Luoma failed to report and attempted to cover up the liquid manure discharges from its egg-laying operation, said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The company also improperly disposed of dead chickens, another violation. The $95,000 fine is one of the largest levied by the pollution agency in the past two years. READ MORE
Poultry litter’s fertilizer value runs more than $80 per ton, according to a 2011 University of Georgia survey and study about the use of poultry litter among south Georgia crop producers. READ MORE
Nov. 20, 2013 - The Egg Industry Center recently released a study that shows that while U.S. egg production has increased over the past 50 years, the industry has also been able to significantly decrease its environmental footprint.
Researchers conducted a lifecycle analysis of U.S. egg production from 1960 to 2010 to evaluate environmental performance measures for the complete lifecycle from crops to hens to the farm gate. Study findings indicate that the environmental efficiencies are the result of a wide range of factors, including the reduction of natural resource use, improved hen feed, better disease control and advancements in hen housing systems.
"The U.S. egg industry has evolved remarkably over the past five decades by incorporating new technologies to protect natural resources," said Hongwei Xin, agricultural and biosystems engineering and animal science professor at Iowa State University, director of the Egg Industry Center and the study's lead researcher. "Egg farmers have improved their production practices, allowing them to provide an affordable source of high-quality protein while using fewer resources and producing less waste."
Key results of the study found that compared to 1960:
- The egg production process releases significantly less polluting emissions, including 71 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions.
- Hens now use 32 percent less water per dozen eggs produced.
- Today's hens use a little over half the amount of feed to produce a dozen eggs.
- At the same time, today's hens produce 27 percent more eggs per day and are living longer.
- Feed efficiency plays a key role in reducing environmental impacts. Due to advancements in nutrition and bird breeding, young hens now require 48 percent less food during the rearing period than they did in 1960 and the laying hens have 42 percent better feed conversion. Using 1960 technology to produce the 2010 egg supply would have required 78 million more hens, 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million more acres of soybeans.
- Advancements in hen housing, such as improved building ventilation, temperature control, better lighting and a more secure housing environment, help to ensure that hens are protected from disease-carrying wildlife
- These techniques have been widely adopted by egg farmers across the country, leading to healthier hens with lower mortality and higher rates of egg production
- In addition, advancements in the development of preventative medicine to eliminate avian diseases have greatly improved hen health.
- Manure management has played a role in minimizing the egg industry's environmental footprint. The vast majority of manure from laying hens is recycled into crop production, providing nutrients for plants, contributing to healthy soils, saving energy and reducing commercial fertilizer use.
"The U.S. population has increased by 72 percent over the past 50 years, but efficiencies in egg production have enabled us to meet the demands of the growing population with just 18 percent more hens, while also leaving a smaller environmental footprint," said Bob Krouse, an egg farmer for Midwest Poultry Services in Indiana. "Egg farmers are now in a position to help fulfill the growing need for an affordable and nutritious source of protein in an environmentally responsible manner."
Egg farmers are dedicated to providing safe, nutritious food while maintaining the highest quality care for their hens. At the same time, farmers understand the importance of protecting the land, water and air for their communities and future generations, and they are always looking to identify ways for continued improvement. Efforts to further improve feed efficiency, hen housing facilities and manure management will facilitate even greater environmental footprint reductions in the future.
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Manure Science ReviewWed Jul 25, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
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