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October 2, 2014

“Reclaiming 75% of Manure Liquids to Potable Water”

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“Dairy Today’s” Jim Dickrell takes a deep dive into a unique partnership between the Hudson Dairy and Livestock Water Recycling in our shared quest for innovative technology and sustainable agriculture.

He published the following piece in the Oct. 1st edition of Dairy Today:

Imagine if you could reclaim 75% of manure liquids back to potable water, allowing you to use it to flush floors, water cattle or irrigate crops.

That’s the hope of relatively new technology now going into operation on Milk Source’s 3,400-cow Hudson Dairy in Michigan. The technology is provided by LWR, or LivestockWaterRecycling.com, a company based in Calgary, Alberta.

The system was highlighted in a Virtual Farm Tour here at World Dairy Expo. Jim Ostrom, one of three partners with Milk Source, hosted the tour. Milk Source, which operates four large dairies in Wisconsin, recently renovated the Hudson Dairy in Michigan, incorporating the LWR technology.

Milk Source purchased the Hudson facility two years ago, remodeling virtually every square inch of the facility. the company installed new freestalls with sand bedding, replaced an undersized double -38 parlor with a new double 50 parallel parlor from GEA, and invested heavily in the new manure system.

Manure from the six-row freestall barns is scraped into a cross flume, where it is flushed into a sand washing system to separate (and reclaim) the sand for bedding. Then the fibrous manure solids are separated out, and then the manure enters the LWR system. Suspended solids are precipitated out through the use of polymers and the remaining liquid is forced  through a massive reverse osmosis system to remove the remainder of the manure constituents. The result fo the entire process is drinkable, potable water.

“I believe the technology is sound,” says Ostrom. “It’s just a matter of economics and whether we can manage the variables enough to keep it operating on a daily basis. The system is a sizable investment for us, but it has large potential to protect the environment.”

Ross Thurston, CEO of LWR, says the capital cost for the system is about $500 per cow, somewhat north of $1.5 million for the Hudson Dairy installation.

That’s a substantial investment, but still within the parameters of being workable when the total investment in a dairy, says Ostrom. He estimates operating costs to be about 1 cent/galloon of manure or roughly $100 per cow per year. But Ostrom says conventional manure lagoon storage and hauling costs typically run 1.5 cents to 2 cents/gallon, or $150 to $200 per year.

Another benefit will be thousands of fewer tanker trips each fall and spring when lagoons are typically emptied. Plus, the dairy will need just one fourth the manure storage capacity, greatly reducing odor potential.

Milk source was named the 2014 Innovative Dairy Farm of the Year, sponsored by the International Dairy Foods Association and Dairy Today magazine.