Sunday, November 15, 2015

Processing of Manure on the farm? It is here, it is now!


Time and time again I have heard from the local Kewaunee County environmentalists, “it will be years and years before we have efficient manure processing technology that will make any difference in our County.”  Well, I am happy to report that, once again, they are incorrect.  It won’t be years before our local CAFOs are running fully integrated manure processing systems that can concentrate nutrients and remove up to 65% of the water.

On November 5th, a number of Kewaunee County Board Supervisors attended a tour of Digested Organics (DO) fully integrated manure processing installation at Majestic Crossing Dairy in Sheboygan Falls.  Supervisors, Bob Weidner, Tom Romdenne, Ron Paider, Ron Heuer and John Mastilar, were among a group of about 30 people to take a tour of this new manure processing system. Joining them were other guests from around the State including Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel and his Section Chief Sara Walling, representatives from 4 counties as well as numerous dairies including several Kewaunee County CAFOs (Ducats, Pagel's and Ebert’s). 

Digested Organics began building the Majestic Crossing IMMS in late July and it is now running. The Majestic Crossing Dairy Integrated Manure Management System (IMMS) is designed to process 20,000 gallons of raw manure per day -this installation  sized for the dairies 650 cows. The system has an integrated high efficiency digester (90% organic solids conversion to biogas and approx. 70% methane content) combined with a nutrient concentration/water reclamation system that takes the digestate from the digester and concentrates the key nutrients into roughly 35% of the volume, reclaiming the balance of 65% as reusable water.

While the digester is still under construction (expected to producing biogas bay the end of the month), we witnessed their system process raw manure, pressed through 2 screw presses. During the tour, DO processed this effluent, which is even more difficult to process than digestate with ease, producing concentrate from the effluent and water that was drinkable!

After 2 successful pilot programs in Michigan and Wisconsin, the IMMS was officially launched during this years World Dairy Expo week. It is simple, highly automated and designed to operate virtually round the clock. Modular and scalable, DO’s COO Chris Maloney says DO based its design philosophy on improving operational optionality and flexibility, reducing volume in hauling and spreading and lowering those costs. He further stated that DO focuses it's philosophy around the 3 cornerstones in manure management; 1)Efficient harvesting of the energy, 2) Separating and concentrating the nutrients for crops and 3) Reclaiming the water with high enough quality for the animals to drink, suitable (and permitable) for discharge into a nearby waterway) and/or used for flushing, washing or cooling on the farm. 


So here is how it works.  Manure is scraped in to a pit and then pumped to screw presses where the coarse solids are separated and dropped into a retaining area. Currently, Majestic Crossing is land applying the solids but may decide to dry them and reused as bedding in the future. The liquid effluent from the presses is then processed by DO’s proprietary BioMicronizer™ Solids Disintegration System.  Fine solids are “exploded” through a high pressure device, creating a homogeneous feedstock with a dramatic increase in surface area and reduced particle size—the ideal combination for faster anaerobic digestion.  This effluent is also dosed with a custom-formulated additive called BioSupport™, which provides trace minerals and bio-activators that accelerate the digestion process.  The disintegrated liquids then enter the BioEliminator™, a patent-pending digester that utilizes internal bio-media to house and retain microbes for faster digestion and cleaner biogas.  The digester is 100,000 gallons (5-day residence time) and runs year round at a constant 100°F.  After the BioEliminator, the digested manure (digestate) goes through a Nutrient Concentration & Water Reclamation System™ (NCWR) to produce concentrated liquid fertilizer and clean water for reuse or discharge.  This patent-pending system utilizes advanced ultrafiltration (UF) and reverse osmosis (RO) technologies, along with a unique combination of polishing steps, to produce high quality water for reuse.
So, how clean is the water coming out of this system?  Very clean and we all drank it, in fact, Secretary of Agriculture Ben Brancel was one of the first to line up for a drink!





From L to R in the background, Supervisor John Mastilar, Chris Maloney, Digested Organics COO, Secretary Ben Brancel and Bobby Levine, CEO of Digested Organics.

So, the metrics that DO represented to us at last winters board meeting are being met today at Majestic Crossing Dairy. 65% water recovery and clean enough that it can be discharged.  Think of what this could mean to our county.  We have in excess of 600 million gallons of liquid manure in our Kewaunee. What if we could process 400 million gallons of that manure and remove 65% of the water before it is transported to the fields for application? That would be the equivalent of approximately 48,000 tanker truck loads that would not have to run down the highways and a reduction of 260 million gallons of liquid that would not go on the fields.  

This can be achieved and the technology exists today! Our farmers understand that it is imperative we reduce the number of gallons of liquid manure going out on our fields. The time for action is now…and, this can be done in fairly short order, it will not take years.  

Stand by, more information to come soon..............................