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Sustainability through Livestock Biomass

by 5m Editor
5 February 2009, at 8:13am

US - As US food processors and retailers have focused on reducing their own carbon production related footprint, they are becoming increasingly interested in the sustainable management practices adopted by Ohio Farms that are providing their bulk commodities every day. One farm generates up to 1.2 megawatts of power from poultry litter.

For this very reason, visionary Ohio producers such as Leon and Chris Weaver of Bridgewater Dairy and Jim and Mary Wenning of Wenning Poultry have recently installed state-of-the-art anaerobic digesters that will significantly reduce their carbon footprint, according to the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC).

Both farms have recently installed GHD, Inc. mesophilic digesters, which maintains the dairy manure or poultry litter at 100-105°F during a 21-30 day digestion process.

These integrated systems capture the methane produced within the digesters for combustion and when at full capacity will be able to generate up to 1.8 megawatts (Wenning Poultry) and 1.2 megawatts (Bridgewater Dairy).

These are the only two farms currently in Ohio that are producing and marketing electricity to Buckeye Power, the generation and transmission cooperative which provides electricity to 25 Ohio-based electric cooperatives.

Buckeye’s new "EnviroWatts –Greener In Ohio" Programme is now able to offer their customers Ohio farm generated renewable energy for the first time and is optimistic about more local relationships.

In addition to the significant carbon reduction with these new waste systems, both families are building their local bank account of good will and social capital by reduction of odours, potential pathogens and insect pressure.

Other derived benefits after the manure/ litter is processed are by-products that are still very nutrient dense for land application as a soil fertility amendment, solids for dairy bedding, and waste water that can have multiple uses as a crop nutrient or medium for algal production systems.

There is very little odour and pathogens and weed seeds are rendered inactive because of the elevated digester temperatures.

As Ohio's dairy, poultry and livestock farmers, food animal processing industries and solid waste handling authorities continue to adopt new anaerobic digester systems, the potential for new strategic alliances and relationships will continue to be forged through new research and product development.

The vision of OBIC is to continually serve as a catalyst to enhance these synergistic relationships while adding value to Ohio's farm families and many diverse economic sectors including polymers, agriculture/horticultural fertiliser industries and biofuels.