MAXIMIZING THE VALUE OF MANURE
Manure management is a key component to dairy operations. More importantly, manure is a key resource for dairy operations. However, that resource is not always maximized.
Land O’Lakes, Inc. dairy member-owners, Mercer-Vu Farms are a leading example of the value manure can bring to an operation. To maximize the value of their manure, the farm implemented an innovative and comprehensive manure management system. Their system uses a combination of separation technology for multiple benefits.
First, the system improved the economic viability of the farm by reducing input costs and creating a new revenue stream. Throughout the separation process, they reclaim 95% of the sand used in bedding. They also separate liquid and solid portions of the manure. This reduces Mercer-Vu’s hauling costs because dry manure solids are cheaper to haul. The liquid portion also has a higher concentration of phosphorus, allowing the farm to better target and meet their crops needs. With this approach, they have been able to eliminate synthetic fertilizer use on 400 acres. They also created a new revenue stream by selling the carbon credits generated through the system.
Second, this comprehensive manure management system improved their environmental stewardship. Throughout the process, Mercer-Vu Farms improved the surrounding air quality by reducing nitrogen volatilization and GHG emissions the equivalent of removing 740 cars off the road each year. The manure management system also helps better protect the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by removing 40% of the phosphorus out of the liquid manure. Coupled with extensive conservation practices, Mercer-Vu Farms is a leading steward in the community.
Finally, this system allows Mercer-Vu farms to maintain their high level of animal care. Ensuring the highest level of animal wellbeing is extremely important to Mercer-Vu. Everything they do, from management practices to operational design, is centered around animal care. This system fit into their operation – most importantly, allowing them to continue using sand bedding.
Mercer-Vu is demonstrating how farmers find a way to improved economic, environmental and social benefits by maximizing the value of manure from their dairy operation.