Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fair Oaks Farms installs technology to make manure spreading obsolete

If you drive on I-65 from the Chicago area to Lafayette or further south, you will see signs about Fair Oaks Farm along the way. It is a big dairy farm. (I could not find the number of head they milk.) I remember this as the farm that was used on the Dirty Jobs TV program when Mike Rowe did a segment on dairy farming as a dirty job.

If you scroll near the end of manure spreaders, you will see that some large livestock operations produce a pond of some very yucky liquid. Spraying it on fields can produce some very smelly fields. The Chicago Tribune had some articles on pig farming, and one of the issues they described was the reduced property values of homes downwind of a farm because of the stink. There is now equipment that uses discs to bury the liquid under the surface. I'm sure that helps reduce the stink.

Screenshot from Video
But Trident Technologies is using Fair Oaks as a test bed for newly designed equipment that will remove the manure from the liquid manure so that the only liquid left is water. This video describes how they extract the manure and produce biosolids high in phosphorous that can be used as fertilizer. Removing the solids not only keeps the stink off the fields, it avoids phosphorous runoff pollution. Note that they already run the waste through anaerobic digesters to make methane to reduce the amount of diesel fuel and electricity that they need to buy to run their machinery:
Fair Oaks Farms brings Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to a whole new light.  Our entire facility runs on cow & pig manure.  We transform our farms' waste into energy by way of our anaerobic digesters, we reduce our dependency upon natural gas and electricity during the milk and manufacturing process.  In 2013, the use of CNG will reduce the amount of diesel that our milk tanker/trailers use by 2 million gallons; the amount used in 2011.  Our barns and plants are also powered by this cutting edge "poo power". [FairOaks]
The new technology starts with air flotation tanks that bubble the solids to the top so that they can be skimmed off with a paddle chain. (We saw a couple of treatment steps that use paddle chains in Stcikney.) The skimmed off solids then go to a "moving disc press." That is what I show in the screenshot above.

Using what is effectively a sewage treatment plant makes manure spreaders obsolete. The water can be spread on the fields using standard irrigation sprinklers.

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