Profiles
Four years ago, dairy farmer Jay Richardson and his wife, Kristi – owners of Son-Bow Farms in Northwest Wisconsin – sat down for a heart-to-heart to discuss the future of their business.
Published in Dairy
Earthworms eat biological material in the soil to survive. Now, their abilities are being put to work by a company called BioFiltro. They are used in a controlled environment to clean liquid manure waste streams in a matter of hours where it would otherwise have taken weeks.
Published in Dairy
It is often the case that great partnerships are started through the involvement of a mutual friend. That was certainly the situation with the El Paso Zoo and New Green Organics, both located in Vinton, Texas. The pair has formed a relationship that has given birth to something called Zoo Doo.
Published in Compost
Urban encroachment on traditional farmland is becoming a big problem. Farmers contend they should be allowed to conduct business as usual because they were first in the neighborhood while nearby homeowners complain that farm odors are wafting into their family barbecues and must stop.
Published in Compost
More than 150 farmers, businesses and agricultural leaders were on hand in mid-June as Crave Brothers Farm and Crave Brothers Homstead Cheese of Waterloo hosted a Green Energy Showcase for June Dairy Month.

The Green Energy Showcase kicked off with an overview of two bio-digesters and green energy production, and an update on farm and cheese plant activities. And of course, it was a celebration of June Dairy Month.

The idea behind the showcase was for participants to learn about the family business, sustainable agriculture practices, modern agriculture technology, animal husbandy and green energy production. | READ MORE
Published in News
Garden pots that are made from cow manure, containing nitrogen, and biodegradable. In the northwest hills of Connecticut is a second-generation dairy farm run by two brothers, Matt and Ben Freund, who saw the potential of the idea, and made it happen.

The brothers milk 300 Holstein cows with five robotic milking units. With the variable profitability of a dairy farm and increased regulations on nutrient management, Matt Freund started to look for other ways to be sustainable on their farm and to make better use of the manure that his cows were producing. | READ MORE
Published in Profiles
Sharon, Wisconsin – AQUA Innovations is proud to announce Son-Bow Farms as the first farm in Wisconsin to install its fully commercialized NuWay nutrient concentration system. The company has had systems running in other states, such as Oregon, for nearly eight years.

The AQUA Innovations NuWay nutrient concentration system eases the pain of managing dairy manure with an all mechanical separation process. The proprietary system is capable of reclaiming over 50 per cent of manure as distilled water without the use of harmful chemicals.

Another by-product of the process is organic super nutrient fertilizer, which contains sought-after nutrients like nitrogen and potassium with virtually no phosphorus or pathogens. This diminishes a farmer's dependence on chemicals by allowing them to care for crops using the super nutrient water by-product during the growing season.

"The NuWay system is environmentally compliant, customizable to any dairy operation and provides 24/7 remote monitoring and support from AQUA Innovations," said Chris Lenzendorf, president of AQUA Innovations.

This technology reduces the need to haul and store manure to later be spread on fields as fertilizer, which not only minimizes the smell of manure, but also the cost of transporting it.

Jay and Kristi Richardson of Son-Bow Farms, located outside of Spring Valley, Wisconsin, are the first dairy operators in the state to embrace this innovative technology from AQUA Innovations.

"We had been looking for a system to decrease our manure hauling costs for many years," said Jay Richardson, Son-Bow Farms' owner. "The financial impact is huge for us, no doubt about it. The synergies that this system allow are not only financial but environmental and neighbor friendly as well."

Former Governor Tommy Thompson and Green Bay Packers legend Frank Winters also back the technology as partners at AQUA Innovations.

"Jay and Kristi should be applauded for being pioneers and thinking about not only how to better their farm, but also the environment," said Frank Winters, AQUA Innovations shareholder. "I truly believe AQUA Innovations' technology and process will change the way dairy operators handle cow manure, not only here in the great state of Wisconsin, but across the globe."
Published in Dairy
The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards is an opportunity for the industry to recognize how innovation and creativity sparked by one farm, one person or one organization can have a ripple effect that goes well beyond their farm gate or front door.

This year, the seventh-annual awards celebration took place in Lombard, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, to honor the dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet. This year's winners addressed water quality, manure management, recycling and more. | READ MORE
Published in Profiles
Fine Swine knows how to do things large. In 2017, the Ohio-based swine farm with more than 11 locations and 30,000 sows, built a 6,200-head sow gestation barn, incorporating a dual permanent mass agitation system.
Published in Swine
A family is turning the hog manure into methane to power the family farm, reduce greenhouse emissions and generate income.

Lisa and Drew Remley of Remley Farms held an open house to unveil the new 20,000-gallon anaerobic methane digester.

Power from the biodigester power will reduce the farm's $3,000-$3,500 monthly electric bill. | READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
Tom Butler admits he was naïve back in 1995, when he stopped growing corn, tobacco, and other crops and began raising 8,000 hogs on his farm outside Lillington, North Carolina.

Butler, a spry 77-year-old who still runs the operation, has been experimenting with ways to do better ever since. He covered his waste pits to help reduce odor. He became the second farmer in the state to capture and burn methane gas from manure to create renewable energy.

Now, he's the proud sponsor of the state's first biogas microgrid, a self-sustaining power system that could improve electric reliability, cut electric costs for his Harnett County community, and maybe spur wider reforms in the multi-billion-dollar hog business. | READ MORE
Published in News
Installation and construction are complete on a DVO Inc. anaerobic digester at Ar-Joy Farm, a dairy farm in Cochranville, Pennsylvania.

This is DVO's first installation in Pennsylvania, bringing the number of states with a DVO digester to 19. Its patented digester system has also been constructed in six foreign countries.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a collection of processes by which naturally occurring microorganisms transform waste into valuable byproducts in a controlled, oxygen-free environment.

DVO's patented Two-Stage Linear Vortex anaerobic digester is unlike any other technology. Traditional AD technologies featuring above-ground tanks are inefficient and costly to operate.

"We are honored to be working with Marilyn and Duane Hershey (owners of Ar-Joy), a couple long admired in their community and acclaimed in the dairy industry for their advocacy and leadership. Marilyn serves as chair of Dairy Management, Inc. and in 2017 was named Dairy Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo. Duane serves on the Land O'Lakes Board of Directors," said Steve Dvorak, president of DVO. "We know they are dedicated to environmental sustainability and are proud they chose to implement DVO's digester technology."

The DVO anaerobic digester processes the waste from Ar-Joy's 700 milking cows, as well as local organic waste streams. Currently the farm is adding waste from a potato chip company three times a week and is seeking additional feedstocks for the digester.

The biogas generated from the waste streams is powering a 300-kW gen-set which delivers renewable electricity to the local grid. The farm has a net-metering program with its local utility which allows the farm to lower its electrical costs by off-setting the power from its electrical meters. Any excess generated power not used by the dairy is sold to the utility.

The dairy is utilizing the separated digested solids for bedding, having previously bedded with sand. The digested liquid is stored in a lagoon to be applied as fertilizer on to growing crops, increasing crop yield and reducing the likelihood of nutrient runoff.

"The digester provides us a variety of environmental benefits, such as producing power and recycling waste. A big driver for us was the ability to expand our operation and bring in additional revenue without adding cows," explained Duane Hershey. "The community response to our digester has been real positive. When the neighbors come down and see it, they get excited. They all say we need more of these digesters on farms."

Learn more about DVO's solutions for agricultural wastes and renewable energy here, http://www.dvoinc.com/

Published in Anaerobic Digestion
Chittenango, NY - The dust bowl era in the Midwest displaced many families, including farmers. Edson and Harriet Durfee were one of them. Luckily for New York and Madison County, they and their three children moved back east from Nebraska and settled their dairy farm on 120 acres of river bottom soils and Honeoye hills which fed the appetites of the, then, quiet hamlet of Chittenango.

Going on five generations in the community since then, their dedicated land stewardship, soil conservation and farm management has garnered the coveted 38th annual Conservation Farm of the Year by the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District. | READ MORE
Published in News
Marin County, Calif. - On one organic dairy farm, the feed truck runs on cow power.

"I was able to put together a fully electric truck to feed the cows that's powered by the cow's waste. We claim that's the first one in the world to do that," says Albert Straus, CEO of Straus Family Creamery in Marin County, California.

When cow manure breaks down, it releases methane, a potent global warming gas. But that methane can be captured and used to make electricity. Using technology called a methane digester, Strauss has been converting his cow's manure into energy for the last 14 years. The process produces enough electricity to power the whole farm. And now, that energy is also being used to charge his electric truck. | For the full story, CLICK HERE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
Reading, Pennsylvania - All communities depend on clean water and that supply of clean water depends on the actions of members in the community and outside of it.

The small city of Kutztown lies within the Saucony Creek watershed in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The watershed is mostly agricultural, dotted with small family crop and livestock farms, and the activities on these farms affect water supplies near and far.

Saucony Creek itself feeds into Lake Ontelaunee, the water supply for Reading, Pennsylvania. Kutztown gets its water from wells that, because of the soils and geology of the area, are strongly affected by activities on the surrounding landscape.

In the early 2000s, the nitrates in Kutztown's water supply were approaching the maximum safe levels for drinking water. The nitrates were related in large part to farms in the area.

This situation energized a partnership of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private entities to ensure the safety of the city's water supply, in part by helping local farmers install conservation practices that protect and improve water quality. As part of this effort, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) delivered additional funding for voluntary conservation assistance through its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). 

NRCS Collaborates with Conservation-Minded Farmers
For years, dairy farmer Daniel Weaver faced challenges that made his life harder and affected water quality in his area. He hauled manure every day because he had nowhere to store it. And, his cows watered and roamed in a branch to Saucony Creek that runs through his property. This reduced the health of the stream and of his herd. That is before he formed a relationship with NRCS staff at his local USDA Service Center.

With NRCS's help, Weaver was able to implement conservation practices that improve the operations of his farm in a way that also protects the ground and surface water flowing through his property. First, NRCS helped him develop a nutrient management plan for his property. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding, commonly known as EQIP, enabled him to install a manure storage tank that alleviates the need to haul manure daily. The new storage capacity allows him to control the rate and timing of manure application on his farm, which are key factors in achieving healthy soil and clean water. He also says that it has helped him save on labor and fertilizer.

"I think it should be mandatory for farmers to have a manure pit," he said.

Streambank fencing and an animal crossing were installed to keep cows from contaminating streams and creeks that crossed their pastures and therefore the downstream rivers and lakes. In the five years since installation, vegetation has grown on the stream banks, creating a buffer for the stream and the crossing controls the cows' access, thereby limiting pathogens and nutrients from entering the water.

Not too far away, Harlan Burkholder owns and operates a 100-acre row crop and beef cattle farm. He also worked with NRCS and other partners to improve water quality in Saucony Creek. When Burkholder bought his farm in 2005, manure was being stored on the ground near the creek that runs through the property because there was limited space near the barn. He had to spread manure on the fields often to keep it from piling up.

Realizing that it's best to spread manure in the growing season and store it in the winter to avoid runoff, he developed a nutrient management plan. After applying for NRCS financial assistance, he worked with NRCS to co-invest in a manure storage structure. Now, Burkholder is able to store manure over the winter so he can spread it at optimal times.

He is grateful for NRCS's help. "As a beginner, there's no way I could have spent money on something like this," he said.

Burkholder also knows the importance of keeping soil healthy with no-till and cover crops. As a 100-pecent no-till farmer, Burkholder says, "I have no intentions of doing anything else. It's working."

It's working so well that he's sharing his knowledge and experiences with other farmers.

Results
Together, NRCS and its partners have helped more than 20 farmers in the watershed get conservation on the ground. In fact, NRCS has invested more than $2 million in targeted assistance in this area alone.

"The voluntary efforts of these farmers that protect the water in Saucony Creek also has a positive impact on the groundwater in aquifers beneath it," said Martin Lowenfish, the team lead for NRCS's landscape conservation initiatives. "Kutztown is home to 14,000 residents who rely on drinking water from those aquifers."

And, the residents of Kutztown are taking notice. Just two years after the city's water treatment plant was updated with equipment to remove nitrates from the raw water, the plant is running at minimum capacity because the nitrate levels have been reduced by almost half thanks to the conservation efforts of farmers and ranchers upstream. Now, the treatment plant's water is within legal safe drinking water requirements and treatment costs also have been significantly reduced.

This is just one impact among many that show how a little conservation can yield big results for communities downstream.


Published in Profiles
Iowa’s Smith family, owners of SFI Inc, have been on a decades-long quest to prove and demonstrate that it pays to practice good land stewardship that includes manure composting, capturing nutrients before they leave their feedlots, and recycling them as organic fertilizer on their row crops.
Published in Beef
September 26, 2017, Springfield, MA — The winners of the 2017 New England Green Pastures Award were recognized at the Eastern States Exposition on Sept. 15. Honored as Massachusetts Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year was Pine Island Farm of Sheffield, MA, managed by the Aragi family.

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

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

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

The Green Pasture Award is given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states, with winners evaluated on production records; herd, pasture and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
Published in Dairy
Vermont has recently adopted stiffer manure application rules to try to better control runoff into the state’s largest water feature and tourist attraction, Lake Champlain. As one of the state’s largest manure injection custom applicators, Matthew’s Trucking LLC is doing its part to help farmers better manage farm runoff.
Published in Other
One back surgery and 30 years later, Lee Kinnard, co-owner of Kinnard Farms in Wisconsin, is starting to believe that the dairy has finally put all the pieces in place to streamline recycling of manure-laden bedding sand from their barns.
Published in Dairy
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
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