New wastewater system expected to be a big help for dairy farms
A Ferndale company has come up with a way for farms to better manage soil nutrients, and it is getting a chance to prove it locally with a well-known Lynden dairy.
Regenis, a division of the Ferndale-based Andgar Corp., recently installed a phosphorous recovery system at Edaleen Dairy. The system basically removes fine solids in manure wastewater, eliminating around 80 percent of the phosphorous and 30 percent of nitrogen before the water is used to irrigate crops.
Removing much of the phosphorous out of the water allows dairy farmers to more accurately estimate how much additional nutrients are needed to grow the crops.
The process also has an economic benefit for Edaleen: By removing and storing the manure solids, Edaleen can either use it as fertilizer for its farm or sell it to nearby farms that need more soil nutrients, said Craig Frear, director of research for Regenis.
“Regenis believes a system like this is the future for dairies,” Frear said.
The cost of the project was around $600,000, with nearly half of it being funded by a clean energy grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce, said Mitch Moorlag, general manager at Edaleen Dairy. The biggest advantage he sees is the flexibility it allows the farm, making it easier to fine-tune the nutrient levels in the soil and cut down on buying commercial fertilizer for the crops that feed about 1,600 cows.
“In the long run, this helps makes dairies like ours more competitive, which is a win for consumers who want to support local agricultural producers and the jobs they create in smaller communities,” Moorlag said.
In awarding the grant, the Commerce Department said in a news release that having a process that develops fertilizers from waste “represents a major benefit to the dairy industry across the state and the nation.”
Regenis, known for its anaerobic digesters in the western U.S., has now installed four nutrient recovery systems, two of which focus on removing phosphorous. The other two are designed to strip nitrogen in the form of ammonia from animal wastewater, according to a news release from the company.