New liquid manure composting process to be on line in 2006
Abbotsford, B.C. Oct. 6, 2005: B.C.
Lower mainland farmers all too familiar with the challenge of producing livestock in a region dominated by urban sprawl and heavy rainfall will be interested in a new liquid manure composting system expected to be in operation early in 2006.
The $100,000 farm-scale facility being built on an area hog operation, will have capacity to convert about 500,000 gallons of liquid manure into an odorless, dry, nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be used by home gardeners and commercial farming operations.
"It is a technical challenge," admits Dr. John Paul, a former Agriculture Canada research scientist, who developed the system as one of the newer projects undertaken by his company Transform Compost Systems Ltd.
While the company he launched seven years ago is familiar with designing more conventional composting systems, this is their first system using liquid hog manure.
"We had to design a system that was environmentally-sound, non-intrusive in a densely populated region, and could function in an area that receives up to 48 inches of rainfall over a six-month period each year," he explained.
Design and construction of the farm-scale composting system, which is now underway, follows a year of evaluating a smaller pilot system on a 300-sow farrow-to-finish Abbotsford-area farm. That producer had been spreading manure on nearby farmland, but had to find alternate means of managing manure when part of that land was no longer available.
Paul developed the system known as bio drying, which actually intensifies and accelerates the conventional dry composting process.
The liquid manure composting project was initiated with the assistance of the soil sector of the federal Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program for Canadian Agriculture (GHGMP). The program is administered by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada.
Also providing administrative and financial support for the project was the Abbotsford Soil Conservation Association, the Pork Industry Development Fund and the Agriculture Environment Initiatives program, administered by the BC Agriculture Council.
For more details on the bio drying project and how the system works see a feature article now available on the GHGMP website at: www.soilcc.ca.
Paul's bio drying composting process eliminates much of the methane gas associated with manure storage, filters out ammonia which contributes to odor, and will make it easier to better manage soil nutrient requirements reducing the risk of surplus nitrogen being leached from the soil, or lost to the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.
The environmentally sound and economical liquid manure composting system provides another manure management option to hog, dairy and poultry producers and in some parts of the country, beef operations using liquid manure systems. But, it is particularly good news for producers also dealing with urban pressures and the challenge of managing manure on a limited land base.
The system developed by Transform involves mixing liquid hog manure and dry horse manure in a 20-foot wide x 250-foot long, watertight, concrete channel or pit. Due to high fall and winter rainfall, the channel will be covered with a double polygreenhouse shelter.
The blended manure naturally begins to heat as part of the composting process. Specialized equipment is used to turn the manure on a regular basis. The heat causes the liquid portion to evaporate and after only a matter of weeks, a dry, odorless, nutrient-rich solid material is left.
The dry material will be bagged and sold as a value-added product to local garden centres, or used for high value commercial crops as well as lawns and sports fields.
"We haven't answered all the questions yet," says Paul. "But we have a process that appears to provide another nutrient management option. It is clean and odorless, and perhaps most importantly, resolves the issue of trying to land-apply large manure volumes."
For more information, contact:
Abbotsford Soil Conservation Association
Phone: (604) 556-3732
Dr. John Paul
Transform Compost Systems Ltd.