AN EARTH DAY EXCLUSIVE WITH THE GHG GURU: PART 1

Here at the LWR Innovation Center, we know a lot about manure. In fact, we consider ourselves to be manure experts! But we aren’t experts on greenhouse gases and we’re on a mission to really understand the role that cows play when it comes to emissions.

We’ve all heard that animal agriculture creates greenhouse gas emissions. Have you also heard that cows that they can be part of a climate solution? With so many different messages, I decided to reach out to a real expert to help us understand the relationship between cows, carbon, and the climate… and what better timing than to do it on Earth Day!

This year the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The theme for 2020 is climate action and I am excited to share the exciting ways that animal agriculture can positively impact the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.

Animal science professor Frank Mitloehner reaches beyond academia to inform the public about animal agriculture’s influence on greenhouse gas emissions. (photo: UC Davis)

Dr. Frank Mitloehner, aka @ghgguru on Twitter, is a Professor and Air Quality Specialist in Cooperative Extension in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. He is an expert for agricultural air quality, livestock housing and husbandry and conducts research that is directly relevant to understanding and mitigating of air emissions from livestock operations. His research includes the implications of these emissions for the health and safety of farm workers and neighboring communities. Dr. Mitloehner is also director of the new CLEAR Center at UC Davis, which is focused on research and science communication.

He shared some of his wisdom with me last week, and it’s my pleasure to share that insight with you here.

Jenkins: First, I can help but want to understand why cows, in particular have been targeted in such a negative way?

Dr. Mitloehner:

Animal agriculture has been targeted by different groups for a long time. They are trying to use the climate argument to get consumers to disassociate from animal sourced foods. Most of the real, legitimate concern is around methane, and in particular ruminant livestock methane that is more potent than other greenhouse gases. They want to convince us that by simply consuming less animal sourced foods, that we can make large changes to the climate.

Jenkins: What factors should be included in the greenhouse gases that are attributed to livestock production?

Dr. Mitloehner:

When it comes to greenhouse gases from animal agriculture the most important one is methane. The second is nitrous oxide which not as well known to people but it is actually much more potent than methane. Nitrous oxide is emitted when you fertilize fields with both chemical and manure fertilizers.

But let’s talk about methane because that is the point of contention. Methane is 28 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. There is no question that methane is a potent greenhouse gas. In addition to its potency, there are other important differences between methane on the one side and nitrous oxide and CO2 on the other side. Mainly and most importantly, CO2 and nitrous oxide are long lived climate pollutants with a lifespan of hundreds to a thousand years. Once a molecule of CO2 or Nitrous Oxide enters the air, they stay there pretty much forever.

Methane, on the other hand, only has a lifespan of only 10 years. Methane is produced, but it is also destroyed, and here is where most people fall short when accounting for methane: they only account for the production of this gas, but not for the destruction of this gas, and when you do this beef and dairy look really bad because when you only look at the one side of the accounting sheet and not the other side then you get the wrong picture.

Critics of animal agriculture fall short in a drastic way. What they should do is look at the real warming potential of methane, and not just how much methane is emitted and can be expressed as CO2 equivalent.

By simply using a factor of 28 to calculate the CO2 equivalent of methane some have assumed that methane is 28 times worse than CO2 but in fact that has zero relevance to the actual warming impact of methane. The warming impacts are not being expressed by the current unit that is being used.

 

Imagine this: Worldwide, there are 560 terragrams of methane produced. That is a high number, and people take that number and say “see how bad it is?!” but…. While it is a high number, the part of the story that isn’t being told is that while it’s produced at a rate of 560 terragrams it is destroyed at a rate of 550 terragrams. The global net methane is not 560 but in fact it is only 10.

 

Atmospheric chemists have known this for a long time but they haven’t been a part of the methane conversation. If they were, it would really be a game changer. By only using the production numbers, we have seen public policy effected in a very negative and non-scientific way. Methane is important but it is currently not being characterized appropriated.

Jenkins:  So what would happen if we could reduce methane?

Dr. Mitloehner:

If you keep methane constant by having constant cattle numbers without making any changes to manure management practices, or to reduce enteric emissions, the methane emitted by your cows will stay stagnant – constant – and will not add any additional new methane to the atmosphere because as those cattle emit methane, the same amount is being destroyed in the atmosphere. However, if you increase methane by adding new cows, then you drastically increase warming impact and we want to prevent that by all means.

Now, if you reduce methane from US animal agriculture by 10 to 20 percent you are actually pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, which leads to a net cooling effect, which results in global cooling which can counteract fossil fuel related warming impacts.

So by using a technology that reduces methane, that reduction correlates to a net cooling impact and that to me is so exciting and should be so exciting to companies such as yours.

 

Jenkins: Are there any methane solutions that you are particularly excited about?

Dr. Mitloehner:               

Methane is produced in anaerobic conditions… whether that’s the ruminant of the cow or in the manure lagoon on the dairy. In those environments you have a drastic increase of methanogens that produce methane gas. If you want to reduce that, there are different technologies that are under development from an enteric methane perspective, there is a drug called 3NOP that has been very well researched and is a good successful candidate for enteric methane reductions.

From a manure methane reduction perspective, anaerobic digesters certainly have a major role to play – now whether that always makes economic sense is a different question. In California we have reduced methane from manure by 25 percent over the last two years largely through the use of anaerobic digesters which is something the dairy industry should be very proud of.

There are also alternative manure management practices that are being supported financially here in California by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Both anaerobic digesters and alternative manure management practices (including the LWR System) have received half a billion dollars of public funds over the last two years in California.  People are quantifying the impacts of these technology and the public sector is supporting them.

Jenkins: How important is manure treatment in the greenhouse gas equation? 

Dr. Mitloehner:               

There is no doubt hat the short-lived climate pollutants such as methane have the most immediate impact on climate. It is because they are short lived that when you reduce them, you will see an immediate impact on climate.

It would be a wonderful thing if we could all stop emitting CO2, but the fact remains that the CO2 we have been emitting will still be in the atmosphere in 1000 years. Now if you reduce methane, that reduction will impact the climate immediately. and that’s why it’s such a big deal!

Jenkins: What do you say to people who say we should just go meatless?

Dr. Mitloehner:               

I say that if someone feels better about eating a plant based diet than that’s their decision. Will it have a major impact on methane? The answer to that is no.

The demand for animal sourced foods is strong and it’s not being reduced at all through plant-based alternatives. The meat demand in the United States and Canada has been increasing while at the same time the demand for plant-based alternatives has also been increasing so we do not see that one is replacing the other.

Even if 10 or 20 percent of consumers switch over to a plant-based diet, that would have a minimal impact on our climate.

If all 320 million Americans stopped consuming all animal sourced foods, if everyone became vegan, the carbon footprint of the United States would be reduced by only 2.6 percent! If we all were to go meatless on Mondays, our carbon footprint would be reduced by 0.3 percent. (Nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from US agriculture)

Stay tuned for part 2 of our conversation where Dr. Mitloehner will fill us in on one of the the biggest misconceptions about methane, and what the future has in store! In the meantime, be sure to follow @ghgguru on Twitter, and check out the GHG Guru’s blog

SHOO FLY!

When the Flies Show Up, Your Bottom Line Can Take a Serious Hit!

…and so can herd health, animal comfort, productivity and your comfort, too!

Cow Fly.png

Summer is officially here which means it’s time to tackle the serious business of fly control. Flies can be a real challenge for livestock farmers and can cost the dairy and hog industries hundreds of millions of dollars in lost production each year.

Not only are they annoying to both the workers and the animals, flies really do have a significant effect on production efficiencies. Instead of resting and making milk, cows can easily expend their extra energy trying to fend off these pesky nuisances! Flies in the barn can decrease milk production, and increase medication costs, veterinary visits, and the threat of disease spreading… not to mention reduced farm worker productivity and the increased chance of having cranky neighbors.

A fly problem in your barns can wreak havoc on your herd. You’ll find the cows trying to get rid of the flies by shaking, rubbing and switching their tails which can raise both their heart and respiratory rates, and can also increase their body temperature causing heat stress. You might also find them grouping together, which can worsen their heat stress.

Hog Flies

And then there’s the bites…

Fly bites can result in major economic losses to pig farmers. Irritation from biting flies can cause skin lesions or allergic reactions causing some pigs to be skinned at the abattoir. A skin from a finisher pig can weigh 17kg and the financial penalty can be as much as $34 per pig, as well as additional downgrades depending on the abattoir.

Back in the dairy barn, the nutrients that would normally go into milk production are diverted to replace blood loss from biting. There is also a risk of transmitting diseases such as mastitis, bacterial scours, and pink eye throughout the herd.

Research has been done on the actual production losses that relate directly to stable flies and it’s estimated that a dairy can lose:

  • 306 lbs of milk per cow
  • 13 lbs of body weight from preweaned calves
  • 57 lbs of body weight from stocker cattle

When you add all of this up you get a grand estimated total of $360 million in lost production across the industry.

Fly cycle

All flies pass through four life stages: egg, larva (maggot), pupa, and adult. During its life cycle, which is about 30 days, a house fly female can lay up to 1000 eggs. These eggs are deposited on moist manure or any decaying organic matter. The eggs hatch in 10 to12 hours and the maggots move into the wet manure. Fly maggots mature in 4 to 5 days under warm moist conditions. Pupation occurs in the drier parts of manure, with the adult flies emerging in 3 to 5 days. Under ideal conditions, a fly can complete its life cycle in 9 to 14 days.

So what’s the best way to deal with this pesky problem?

Flies love dirty, moist conditions and their favorite breeding ground is decaying organic matter and manure. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that when it comes to fly control, the best remedy is prevention, and the answer lies in a clean barn!

Flies deposit eggs in the top few inches of moist manure which means that minimizing the amount of moist manure surface area available to the fly is an excellent fly reduction strategy. The LWR System creates a dry solid from manure liquids to greatly reduce fly attraction areas.

It also helps keep your dairy clean and dry and gives producers the ability to sell segregated manure fertilizer promptly rather than stockpiling it.

Instead of dealing with the problem after it’s already a problem, you can solve it before it becomes a problem by treating your manure year round. With empty lagoons and clean lanes you also will lower their re-productivity and stop the flies before they start.

A barn with the LWR System is a barn without a manure problem, and a barn without manure problem is a barn without a fly problem!

 

MANURE: Increasing Feed Crop Productivity Could Be Its Biggest Payoff

Feed Crops

Spring is the season of new life and new growth, and perhaps this year, a new way of looking at the same old manure. Changing up your manure application can help you avoid the potential yield loses associated with low fertility soils. If your feed crops take the biggest bite out of your budget, you are not alone. For many producers, saving money on feed crops would have significant impacts on their bottom line.

 Stats

So how exactly is manure the answer to better feed crops?

Segregating manure into two separate fertilizers gives you more control over nutrient application. By separating the nitrogen, sulfur, & potassium into a liquid fertilizer while capturing the organic nitrogen and phosphorus in a solid fertilizer, not only will you save money, but you will ultimately end up with balanced soil conditions – and is there anymore more critical to crop production than healthy soils?!

 droplet_infographic

Applying the solids free liquid fertilizer on fields close to the dairy will save you money without reaching nitrogen requirements.  Drag lining the liquids close to the barns can cut the cost of hauling manure in half while dropping phosphorus levels in the soil. This practice will also eliminate the need to buy 28% commercial fertilizer!

By reducing the volume of the solid fertilizer, that now consists only of organic nitrogen and phosphorus, this can be hauled away to distant fields that have low phosphorus levels. Not only will this help to regenerate fallow fields, it can also increase corn yields by 3-5 tons per acre.

Treated manure

The LWR nutrient fertilizers were the subject of a growth trial competed by the Olds College Centre for Innovation. The research project evaluated the fertilizer outputs of the LWR System through a series of grow-tests.

The study tested the 2 fertilizer outputs of the LWR System and confirmed that the liquid fertilizer contains adequate amounts of nitrogen and trace minerals suitable for growing plants. The results also confirm that the liquid fertilizer is free of phosphorus, with lab analysis showing phosphorus levels at 0.0000%.

The Old’s study also determined that the nitrogen and potassium in the 50% LWR liquid manure fertilizer is more easily adsorbed by corn than when compared to a commonly used all-purpose plant food.  Corn that was fed the all-purpose fertilizer absorbed 7.958% of input nitrogen and 9.105% of input potassium. When given the 50% LWR liquid solution, percentages of absorption increased to 22.87% and 24.98%, respectively.

Olds
Nutrient Absorption in Corn

The phosphorus that is removed from the liquid nutrient is captured in the dry solid fertilizer. In the dry solid growth test, it was found that when mixed at 25% with soil, corn had the highest recorded heights of all treatments when compared to commonly used all-purpose plant food. This indicates that under the correct mixing ratio, the LWR dry solid fertilizer supports the growth of corn.

Olds 2
LWR treatment (25%) recorded highest growth

Half of all agricultural land is currently used for the production of animal feed, and it is estimated that an additional 280 million hectares will be required to meet the future demand of animal production. This means that increasing the productivity of existing feed crops and regenerating fallow fields will have a tremendous effect on the future of food production.

Newtrient, a company founded by 12 leading milk cooperatives representing nearly 20,000 dairy farmers producing approximately half of the nation’s milk supply, knows the true value of manure – especially at this time of year.  They know that the proper use of manure reduces the reliance on commercially mined fertilizers that often have to travel great distances. They also know that thoughtful use of manure will result in healthier soils, increased crop yields, and improved economics.

Increasing productivity

Increasing the productivity of feed crops through precision nutrient application is an imperative piece of this puzzle, and an exciting benefit of manure treatment technology. Remuneration will come in the form of elevated yields and possibly improved crop quality, especially forages. These returns are measurable and can be valued.

Check out Bucky Organics to learn more about the organic plant nutrients made daily by cows in Wisconsin, and the fertilizer benefits of segregated cow manure!

Bucky

MANURE CONTAINS THE BUILDING BLOCKS REQUIRED TO REGENERATE OUR SOILS

building-blocks.jpg

Soil is the basis for life as we know it. After all, 95% of the food we eat comes from our soils. Thankfully, livestock producers have always known this, and now consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of soil health.

The UN has warned us that the world’s soils are becoming exhausted. So depleted of nutrients that it is estimated that there are only 60 harvests left before our planet’s soils are too degraded to even support food production.

Soil supports life, and today, on World Water Day, it’s important to recognize that water is an essential component of soil health. The problem is that our soils have become so depleted that the soil simply can’t soak up water like it once did. Instead, water rushes off, leaving creeks and aquifers depleted, and contributing to water quality problems. The good news is that the spongy, thirsty soil can be brought back to life.

World Water Day

Soil scientists report that for every 1 percent of organic matter content, the soil can hold 16,500 gallons of plant-available water per acre of soil down to one foot deep. That is roughly 1.5 quarts of water per cubic foot of soil for each percent of organic matter. Increasing the organic matter content from 1 to 2 percent would increase the volume of water to 3 quarts per cubic foot of soil. One particular study also found that 1 pound of carbon can hold up to 40 pounds of water. In another study, it was found that increasing the water holding capacity of the soil by adding compost helped all crops during summer droughts by reducing periods of water stress.

The fact is that organic matter holds a lot of water, and the amount of organic matter in a soil directly influences the availability of water to a crop over time.

Not only are healthy soils necessary to grow food, we need them to produce enough food to meet the growing demands of the largest population that has ever lived on our planet. Farmers need to achieve maximum efficiency and the only way that this is possible is with healthy soils.

Microorganisms

Not surprisingly, the rates of nutrients found in the soil will affect the quality of the yield. Soil that is low in nutrients, will be, as a result, inefficient at growing healthy crops, so for centuries, farmers have turned to fertilizer.  But just like not enough of something isn’t good, too much isn’t good either!

Excessive use of chemical fertilizers can lead to soil salinity, heavy metal accumulation, water eutrophication and the accumulation of nitrates which can lead to air pollution.  Chemical fertilizers contain mineral salts that plant roots can absorb quickly, but these salts do not provide a food source for soil microorganisms. Over time, soil structure declines and so does its water holding capacity.

This is where the true value of manure comes in. When managed properly, manure can transform soil health and regenerate the fertility of a farmer’s fields with limited environmental and social risks.

Manure is the solution

Animal manure is a true soil “builder” because of its ability to improve soil quality. Compared to chemical fertilizers, manure properly applied to land has the potential to:

  • Increase soil carbon and micronutrient levels
  • Reduce soil erosion and runoff
  • Reduce nitrate leaching
  • Increase crop yields

Used as a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner, the micro-nutrients and micro-organisms that are essential to make soil healthy are found in treated manure. Healthy soils act as natural protectants of our groundwater supply, filtering out contaminants. Manure enzymes also increase bacteria and fungi and microbial activity, which is crucial to soil nutrient cycling and the decomposition of organic matter. Together, microbes and enzymes control the soil’s nutrient availability and organic matter quality and quantity. The microbes found in manure also decrease the abundance of harmful organisms, such as disease-causing pathogens and plant pests.

soil value

“The proper use of manure reduces our reliance on commercially mined fertilizers that often have to travel great distances. Ultimately, thoughtful manure use leads to healthier soils, increased yields, and improved economics.” Newtrient

 

Tune in next week when we talk about how healthy soils can increase crop productivity while decreasing feed crop costs.

 

CLEAN WATER AND EMPLOYEE COMFORT – THE OTHER KEY TO PROFITABILITY

Farm workers feed our families and as farmers strive for growth, efficiency and automation to stay competitive, so must they look for more ways to keep their employees safe and productive. Even on the most state of the art operation, farmers and farm workers are still at risk for injuries and in some cases, workplace fatalities. It is estimated that every single day, approximately 100 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury in the U.S., and according to UC Davis, agricultural injuries cost the U.S. an estimated $7.6 billion in medical and lost productivity costs.

7.6 billion

Manure is a natural by-product of animal agriculture and it is a valuable crop fertilizer.

It can also be a gruesome hazard to employees.

Everyday risks associated with manure include tractors tipping into a manure pit, slips and falls in a dirty barn, and exposure to toxic gases including hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide and methane. The dangers related to manure on the farm are very real. The good news is that manure treatment can eliminate these deadly risks. With less manure to handle and more access to clean water, farms become both cleaner and safer for employees. Increased safety on the farm will result in a greater sense of achievement for employees which has been found to increase morale. This improved morale can lead to consistently maintaining a higher level of productivity.

Farm workers are valuable, and working conditions on the farm will impact many aspects of an employee’s productivity. It is common practice to make today’s modern barns animal friendly, but it is just as important for them to be employee friendly.

Dangers of Manure

Clean barns will save you money!

While rates may vary, workers’ compensation coverage is required by all states and it can expensive. The good news is that farm owners play a big role when it comes to the amount of these premiums. Farms with good safety performance and return-to-work programs earn lower premium rates and in many cases, the option is available to reduce premiums through programs that create safer workplaces and encourage injury prevention. These premiums keep rising but producers can protect themselves against rising premiums by keeping claims to a minimum.

Equipment handling and exposure to raw manure pose some of the greatest safety risks to farm workers. By implementing manure treatment technology, barns will become cleaner. Clean environments are safe environments and better workplace safety leads to fewer claims. Fewer claims directly affect workers’ compensation rates and manure

Did you know that a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can lead to increased productivity? 

The health of the environment isn’t the only concern when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the farm. Manure storage and land application produces greenhouse gases which can also negatively impact human health. Exposure to manure has been linked to psychological stress and adverse effects on the respiratory system and even heart function.  When considering these risks, it is important to note that the LWR System can reduce ghg emissions by up to 80% which will have an immediate effect on air quality.

100 Workers

One way for livestock producers to improve long-term resilience and competitiveness is to implement manure treatment. When the volume of manure to be handled is dropped by 70%, there is less storage and more clean water which will translate into cleaner barns. By implementing the LWR System, producers are increasing workplace safety, decreasing insurance premiums, improving employee morale, and decreasing employee turnover; all of this combined will result in a positive impact on the bottom line.

CLEAN WATER AND COW COMFORT… THE KEY TO DAIRY PROFITABILITY

How cow comfort improves your bottom line by increasing productivity and improving animal health and welfare. 

Every dairy, no matter the size, is always looking for ways to maximize milk production.  The one irrefutable factor that will maximize production every single time is cow comfort. This is true regardless of the management or nutritional program employed on any dairy of any size in any state. To maximize milk production cows need to be comfortable, and to maximize comfort, cows need to be clean.

Cow Comfort.jpg

Dairy producers are committed to cow comfort however many are still building completely new facility that are based around a type of manure system that does not allow for maximized cow comfort, thus leaving both milk production and money on the table.

Manure management is so closely connected to animal comfort that some dairy producers are now designing their barns to include a manure treatment system that will increase cow comfort. They know that manure treatment is the next great advantage!

Several studies have found that dirty animals are risk factors for compromised health and production issues, such as mastitis, high SCC in milk, and lameness. In fact, environmental sanitation based on the amount of manure on the cow and in her environment is a predictor of the occurrence of coliform mastitis, and in  four separate study herds, the lowest incidence of mastitis occurred in the herd with “the cleanest cows and the most satisfactory beds.”

This all comes together in The Cow Comfort Link to Milk Quality where Dr. Cook proves that the cleaner the cows and the lower the bacterial count of the bedding, the fewer problems you will have! Mastitis is the most frequent and costly disease of dairy cattle, and production losses due to subclinical mastitis on dairy farms in the United States have been estimated to exceed $1 billion dollars annually.

Dr Cook.jpg

Not only does cow comfort dramatically increases when cows are housed in a clean and dry environment but there is also a known association between cow cleanliness and milk quality as measured by somatic cell count.

FACT: Clean barns prevent bacterial growth, and it’s that bacterial growth that contributes to high somatic cell count and mastitis. If cows have manure on their feet when they move back to the freestalls after milking, that manure gets rubbed onto the teats and the floor of the udder area. This is a primary reason why some herds that appear to have relatively clean cows have significant levels of environmental mastitis. Dirty herds with cleanliness problems will have lower milk yields and higher SCC when compared with clean herds.

Dairy producers are committed to keeping barns and alleyways as clean as possible, and the best possible way to keep barns clean is by implementing manure treatment technology that will return clean water back to the barns.

bedding.jpg

Clean and dry bedding is another key to cow comfort. When a barn is clean and dry, the cows will be more comfortable. When a cow lays down on clean, comfortable bedding, her blood flow increases and therefore so does her milk production.

Research shows that that a standing cow circulates 25% less blood flow through her udder than a lying cow. When hours of rest and production were compared it was found that each hour increase in resting time resulted in a gain of 1.7 kg (3.7 lb) of milk production (Bach, 2008).

Increased lying time also has a potential benefit for fetal growth. Significantly more blood flowed to the gravid uterine horn when cows were lying relative to when they were standing during several stages throughout the gestation period (Nishida et al., 2004).

Cows are also influenced by the cleanliness of the surfaces and bedding in their motivation to lie down.  They prefer clean, dry and soft surfaces for rest. This cleanliness aspect can also impact the time needed to lie down as it takes longer for cows to lie down when surfaces are covered by manure and can tend to be slippery (Popescu et al, 2013)

Studies have also shown a significant link between the lying duration and the percentage of cows with dirty upper legs/flank and udders (Devries et al., 2012, Popescu etc al, 2013).

Now we just wish we could increase our own productivity while we’re laying down!

When it comes to the type of bedding cows prefer, sand is preferable for many reasons. It is resistant to bacterial growth and with a lower level of pathogens, sand has become increasingly popular. However if not stored and handled properly, sand can become contaminated. Using clean water to flush and wash sand increases drying time and creates a cleaner, more comfortable environment.

Profitable farmers are those who are continually seeking out bottlenecks that interfere with their goals. The manure bottleneck is one that is preventing a farm the ability to grow, affecting cow comfort, and ultimately costing farms money.

The LWR System keeps bedding and barns as clean and comfy as possible, which encourages laying down and keeping cows as clean as possible when they do lay down.

The implication is clear: Clean cows are comfortable cows,  comfortable cows are profitable cows, and cows and manure simply do not belong together!

Cows and Manure.jpg

Tune in next week as we examine the link between employee comfort and your bottom line: How clean water increases productivity, reduces turnover, and improves safety on the farm!

Always Be Innovating

Hey guys, Jenkins here.

Did you know that at LWR we’re committed to constant research and product development? We also live by my personal motto: Always be innovating!

It really is true that our team never stops innovating. We are passionate about what we do and driven to offer livestock farmers state of the art manure treatment technology that is cost effective, efficient, and user-friendly!

We have come a long way since our first system was first launched in 2011. Over the past 7 years we have learned a ton about manure. Our team has spent countless hours running the equipment, analyzing the data (courtesy of me, of course!) and listening to feedback from the producers who are actually using the system. By combining all the complaints, kudos and recommendations we have been able to exponentially improve almost every aspect of the LWR System. We’ve taken some stuff out, made a lot of things better and have even found ways to give farmers more control over their nutrients than they’ve ever had before. In fact, we’ve made so many improvements that we needed to give the LWR System a brand-new name!

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you the LWR2 (pronounced LWRsquared)!

LWR2

The upgrades to this next generation system include:

  • Drier solids
  • Greater control
  • Reduced capital costs
  • 20% smaller footprint
  • Reduced cleaning cycles
  • Fully automated for reduced labor cost
  • Improved membrane technology to reduce fouling
  • Lower cost of consumables than ever before!

I’m sure you’re thinking that with all of these advancements we’ve had to raise the price. But guess what? We didn’t! And we’re even offering 15% off during World Dairy Expo!

If you happen to be at the show this week, be sure to come by and say hi so I can tell you all about it!

~Jenkins

Manure Happens… Then What Happens Next?

manure happens

To most people, manure is somewhat of a stinky subject, but to me it’s a tantalizing topic! I strongly believe that as we become more and more focused on eliminating waste, soon manure-talk will be just as common as the recap of last night’s ball game.

Farmers have always been the best when it comes to repurposing waste, but now more than ever the way manure is being transformed is nothing short of amazing.  Not to mention, seriously eco-friendly!

Manure is being used for:

  • crop growth
  • gardening
  • carbon source
  • power
  • and of course, water reuse!

You may be wondering how this excessive resource could have so many practical functions…  well let me tell you about a few of the marvelous inventions that support a catch phrase that I am personally very passionate about: “Don’t waste perfectly good waste!”.

It’s no secret that manure is an excellent fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other important micro-nutrients. It adds organic matter to the soil which contributes not only to increased crop yields, but to higher quality food. But what if we could take that fertilizer one step further…cowpots

Introducing CowPots! These are essentially bio pots that are actually composed of cow manure! They are 100% biodegradable, natural, sustainable, and recycled and they completely eliminate the need for plastic. I don’t know about you, but when I think of a garden, I want to smell flowers not manure… and that’s the best part! CowPots have no odor and I guarantee that if I didn’t tell you what they were made of, you’d never even know!

Another awesome innovation that is combating environmental issues is called “Charcrete”, or biochar which is used as a carbon source. Biochar is made from manure and obtained after thermal treatment of the waste through pyrolysis. It can be used as an additive for concrete elements at a ratio of up to 80% and can even be used as a substitute for sand – reducing the weight of a material by a factor of five! By directly using it as a compost supplement, the natural carbon cycle is preserved. The U.S. cement industry accounts for approximately 1.5% of U.S. CO2 emissions, so this technology could make a significant impact on our planet.

biocharr

Now, when we consider the future of our planet, we always talk about our sources of energy and how are we going to sustain power while still being good to the Earth. That’s where methane energy, or biogas (which is a mixture of methane, carbon dioxide, water and hydrogen sulfide) comes in! It’s is made by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter (manure) and can be compressed or transformed into thermal, electrical and mechanical energy.  So, it’s totally possible to power your vehicle AND provide electricity to your home with “manure-fuel”!  Don’t believe me!? Check this out!

mth

Talk about the future of what’s left behind!

Last, but certainly not least, my personal favorite way to repurpose manure is to turn it into clean drinking water!  And the best part? The LWR System is compatible with every technology I mentioned above so it’s possible to have Cowpots, electricity, and make biochar and fertilizer while also recycling clean water!

If you ask me, manure may very well be the answer to a lot of the world’s crises – especially since it is so versatile across different industries. Who knows what we will come up with next…

Well, I gotta run! All of this manure talk is giving me ideas- off to the Innovation Center!

~Jenkins

From Zero to 150 and Beyond…

As Canadians get ready to celebrate their 150th anniversary this weekend, they will also be celebrating over 150 years of farming innovation. A lot has changed since 1867 – most notably I sure wasn’t around back then!

Advances in modern agriculture have allowed farms to expand in size, add workers – or reduce them in some cases, increase production, and even extend the growing season. A farm that used to feed five people now feeds 120 and what used to take an entire day to harvest can be done in just minutes! Even dairy cows have become more efficient. The modern dairy cow, with the help of some automated milking technology, improved genetics, and optimized cow comfort, can produce 8 times more milk than she used to!

Now, I’m a manure expert not a milking expert, but I do know that a comfortable and safe cow is a happy cow. That’s why my personal favorite milking technology is DeLaval’s Voluntary Milking System, or VMS. Its special features allow for increased thermal efficiency, constant health monitoring, and faster visible results! Canadian dairy producers from both sides of the country are using this technology. Heeg Dairy Inc. and Legendairy Farms are just a couple of the many producers who are leading the industry into a new era – way to go Canada!

All of this talk about the past 150 years has got me wondering just what food production is going to look like in another 150 years. Flying combines?? Maybe. More robots?? Definitely!

While we still haven’t seen any flying cars – or combines for that matter, modern farms do use flying drones to identify potential problems before they become an issue. These drones can also calculate the optimum time to fertilize and irrigate to maximize water and nutrient application efficiencies.

Over the past 150 years, advances in agriculture have made it possible to grow more with less, and you can bet that even more innovative technologies will emerge – in fact, we’re working on some pretty cool projects right here at our Innovation Center… but you’ll have to stay tuned for more information on that!

Modern agriculture is definitely ahead of the game when it comes to implementing technology and using flying inventions, and at the rate the world is evolving it’s astonishing to even imagine what could be next.

Who knows, maybe we’ll even grow crops on Mars one day…

Keep innovating and Happy Birthday, Canada!

~ Jenkins out!