ShapeShapeauthorShapechevroncrossShapeShapeShapeGrouphamburgerhomeGroupmagnifyShapeShapeShaperssShape

Turkey Farmer Sees Benefits of Litter Incineration

by 5m Editor
31 August 2011, at 9:39am

PENNSYLVANIA, US - A turkey farmer has saved $32,000 in fuel costs as well as reducing health risks and environmental impacts by installing an incinerator that burns used poultry litter.

Last year, Mac Curtis, owner of Windview Farm in rural Port Trevorton, saw a $32,000 savings in propane costs to heat his turkey barns, according to Daily Item.

He credits that to measures he took following an energy audit and a $100,000 grant in 2008 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service that bought him a poultry litter incinerator.

It was this incinerator and its success story that brought state and federal agriculture and conservation officials to Windview Farm yesterday, 30 August, for a short tour.

The machine, which burns poultry litter – recycled wood shavings and manure – is not only saving Mr Curtis money in heating costs, it is helping to meet federal regulations aimed at protecting against high percentages of nitrogen and phosphorous content in the Chesapeake Bay.

Denise Coleman, NRCS state conservationist, said: "He is taking his poultry litter and reducing it by 90 per cent."

And what is left in ash is able to be transported more easily out of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed area because there is less to haul.

Pennsylvania State University agricultural leaders also are exploring an opportunity to use the ashes as a feed supplement.

"It's simple, time-tested. It works extremely well," Mr Curtis said of the new technology.

The incineration process also has reduced the amount of traffic coming on and going off his farm to haul the litter away, thus reducing biosecurity risks and fuel costs, he said. The air quality for the birds is better because computerised controls regulate temperature and humidity, and as the air is exchanged, there is less concentration of ammonia and carbon dioxide.

Eighty-thousand three-day-old chicks from Sullivan Poultry Inc. in New York fill the barns at Windview Farm. A large storage shed is full of old litter, and as the fall season is on its way, the material will be brought into the heating unit as needed, Mr Curtis said.

Now that the positive results are being seen in this new technology, Department of Agriculture officials said applications are coming in from other farmers, looking for grant money to do the same on their farms.

"All these great benefits come from something that is economically feasible," said Thomas Williams, state director for the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development. "It's something we can do a lot of."

It may seem that farms are especially hit with regulations aimed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay but, according to Kelly O'Neill, agricultural policy specialist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation: "Many people see the regulations that face them but don't realise that others also face significant regulations, and perhaps even more challenging ones."

Tighter permit regulations have been passed on to wastewater treatment plants, and most of the larger ones already have made significant investments to reduce nutrients to meet those requirements, she said.

She told Daily Item: "Pennsylvania farmers are now being required to develop and implement conservation and manure management plans that have been required since the 1970s, although there are some changes to these requirements."

More than half of the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay comes from agriculture in Pennsylvania because so much of the land is farmland, Ms O'Neill said, but "urban areas on a per-acre basis contribute far more in the form of storm-water runoff and discharges from wastewater treatment plants".