Adaptability and flexibility are key in this manure management option Although the current economy has people wondering what the future of dairying will look like, one company has recently developed a system it feels will help the industry productively deal with manure management issues in the years to come. In fact, with dairies already using this new process, these innovations are available today.
Integrated Separation Solutions, LLC of Madison, Wisconsin, has created a new way of managing manure. Instead of storing and hauling manure, it has developed a comprehensive system that creates distinct nutrient packages that can be used for irrigation, compost, bedding and most recently, clean water than can be discharged to the environment.
In a recent discussion with Jeff Arnold, director of the Wastewater Group at ISS, he spoke about the company’s desire to bring this technology to the dairy industry.
“Many of us in the company have experience in the dairy industry while growing up on our family farms. With our core business being centered in advanced solid-liquid separation, we were looking for a way to bring this technology and our expertise to dairymen so they would be able to both reduce overall manure management costs and have usable byproducts from the process.”
This process gives producers a combination of four steps to deal with manure management at their facility. Each step offers different options and byproducts for dairymen to capitalize on.
The first step removes the large solids from the manure stream. These solids can be field-spread or further utilized in compost or as a bedding product. The second step uses high G-forces to remove the remaining fine solids. Nearly half of the remaining phosphorus is removed in these steps, creating a nutrient-rich solid that can be easily spread or composted.
Step three uses a membrane technology that removes all the remaining suspended solids. This low volume material can either be stored for later spreading or composted with the large solids from step one. The liquid separated out of this phase contains nearly all the remaining phosphorus and a large portion of the nitrogen making it ideal for season-long crop irrigation. The fourth phase uses a reverse osmosis technology to completely remove all dissolved solids, creating a clean, clear water product that is safe and dischargeable, greatly reducing manure storage capacity. It is the only current technology that can achieve clean water that could be used in a variety of places on the dairy or safely discharged to the environment.
In our discussion, Jeff commented on the flexibility and use of the system.
“The system is designed to be very adaptable to most dairies. The two sites we began with each had different needs, sand bedding versus manure solids and three steps versus four, but we were able to match their management styles with the steps that gave the greatest flexibility and solutions. Digesters, bedding materials and byproducts can all be considered and adapted to depending on the management needed.”
“Because our system deals with manure on a continual basis, there is a reduced need for any type of long-term storage for the byproducts. The step three effluent, ‘tea-water,’ can be applied to plants throughout the entire growing season and solids can be composted or used as bedding the entire year.
Because each step is taking the manure stream and creating a product that is highly usable, the common problems associated with manure storage and hauling are eliminated.”
Along with its adaptability, the system also helps in regulation compliance, improved crop yields, reduced soil compaction, reduced lagoon maintenance and can provide bedding replacement. All of these points are in addition to Jeff’s estimates on the savings over hauling manure.
“Because we are able to convert manure into a product that can be spray-irrigated onto fields that are much closer to the operation, we are able to save dairymen equipment and transportation costs which make up a large part of manure-handling expenditures. Saving on those operating and maintenance costs is key for dairymen to find success in manure management.”
Along with the benefits to the producer, Jeff also noted the benefits to the people around them.
“Increasing pressures from environmental groups and neighbors are making manure management a growing concern for dairymen. By eliminating the need to store and transport manure over long distances, we are able to give them an option that reduces these concerns.”
In looking to the future, ISS is hoping to provide benefits that would include creating a closed loop that would return the water directly back to the animals that created the effluent in the first place. Jeff added this comment on the future.
“In reality, in the future, we would be able to have a closed system much like the one they have on the International Space Station today. We would be able to purify the water and have the cows drink it and once again return it through the system. With the water concerns out West and in other areas of the world, we see this as something we will be shooting for in the near future. The more we are able to return to the dairy and the environment in a clean, effective way, the better the system is for everyone.” ANM
Are you ready for manure separation at your facility? The following checklist can be used to determine if this new technology might be a fit for your operation:
1. Are you looking to expand your operation?
2. Are you limited in the amount of land you have to spread manure?
3. Are you looking for alternative uses of your manure?
4. Are you looking at separating solids from your effluent stream?
5. Are you wanting to reduce your manure hauling costs?
6. Do you want to irrigate with your manure effluent the entire growing season?
7. Are the unknown costs of your current system keeping you from tight cost management?
8. Is adaptability important to your manure handling needs?
If you answered yes to five or more of these questions, this technology is one for you to consider.