Dairy Digester/Separator Open House Draws from Five States

Daniel J. Meyer, Ag Engineer Field Specialist, Northeast

Problem Statement:
Many dairies purchase various dry organic beddings for their stalls which vary in costs from $40 to $70 per year per cow.  Other dairies utilize sand in their stalls and have difficulties with removing it from storages.  Dairymen are looking for ideas to purchase or obtain cheaper sources of organic bedding.
Programmatic Response:
Extension in cooperation with two Iowa State University professors put together a field research project looking at an alternative option to generate organic bedding for dairies.  It involves mechanically separating manure into solids and liquids.  The solids can be composted or heated up to 140F to make them safer after the solids separation.  A methane digester on the host farm pretreats the manure before separating it.  An open house was held at the farm doing the digesting and separating of the manure.  ISU researchers, industry personnel and farm owners were on hand to talk about the field research on the safety of using the manure solids for bedding, bedding management, the digester operation, the separator and the electricity generating equipment.
The June 13 open house at Top Deck Holsteins in Westgate, Iowa attracted 150 people from five states.  Many large dairymen also came because separators can pay off quicker on larger dairies and help with their solids buildup in their big manure storages.  The attendees were exposed to ideas on saving bedding costs, reducing manure storage agitation problems, creating longer liquid storage volumes since solids were removed and running a digester off their operations manure to generate electricity.  If one-fourth of the dairies in Iowa used separators to generate bedding and used composting that would save over $1 million dollars in bedding costs annually.  The research study will continue until December when the final report will be written. 

June 26, 2006
121- Adding Value and Enhancing Ag Products

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
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