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 dairy 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 Tuesday 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 of the entire process in 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, including the cow, can run close to $10,000, says Ostrom. Ostrom estimates operating costs to be about 1¢/gallon of manure, or roughly $100 per cow per year. But Ostrom says conventional manure lagoon storage and hauling costs typically run 1 1/2¢ to 2¢/gal, or $150 to $200 per cow per year.
Another benefit will be thousands of fewer manure 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. You can read more about Milk Source here.