Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Can Cow $#!* Save the Bay?

This was the only Bay related article I found amusing today.  It's interesting that it came from the Sacramento Bee; I suppose as a farm related article it appealed more to the interests to California farmers than to most "Bay" folk".  Or maybe it will show up here tomorrow; you never know:

BioAnnounces Kreider Farms Project Sampling Results
Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (OTC BB/QB: BNET) announced today the test results from the most recent round of sampling of its system at the Kreider Farms dairy operation. These samplings will be part of Bion's submissions to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) for the issuance of its final water quality permit and approval of Bion's nutrient credit verification plan for Phase 1 of the Kreider Project.

Independent testing of the samples indicates total annual nitrogen reductions of approximately 220 lbs per milk cow, which will result in approximately 115 lbs of verified nitrogen credits under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (based upon Bion's existing Edge-of-Segment (EOS) factor and verification plan filed with PA DEP). The results are consistent with Bion's original projections of 105-120 lbs of verified nitrogen credits. Bion anticipates that the system performance will continue to improve through Q3 2012.
Saving 220 lbs of nitrogen per yer per cow sounds like a lot of savings to me, but it would be more useful if the article gave the  average nitrogen released per cow as well for scaling purposes.  This is one of the things I find constantly annoying about news stories; they gave you "facts" without providing enough context to understand them.  If this reference is relevant, milk cows excrete 200 to 330 lbs per year, so that would indeed be a very significant decrease in nitrogen output.

I'm also interested in the fact that while they reduce N emissions 220 lbs per cow, they are only permitted to sell 115 lbs of that as nitrogen credits.  That suggests to me (again, without having a reference number) that the farmers are being asked to make a pretty substantial cut in N emissions, without getting credit for it as part of the Bay clean up.
James Morris, PhD, Bion's Chief Technology Officer, stated, "We are very pleased with this latest round of sampling. Although we faced some challenges in our 'shakedown phase', we have dealt successfully with the issues and the system is now beginning to perform to its potential. We look forward to continued improvement in the system's performance and anticipate that by mid-2012, the system may well-exceed original expectations and projections."

The credit calculation assumes combustion of the coarse solids and reductions in nitrogen application (as a fertilizer) based upon Kreider Farms' existing Nutrient Management Plan. The initial phase of the combustion facility is projected to be operational in Q3 2012. At the present time the coarse solids are being utilized as bedding for the dairy cows at Kreider Farms and are not being combusted.
So, much like the chicken $#!* power plants being proposed for the DelMarVa, part of the solution is to burn much of the waste.  I presume (but that article does not state) that the power from burning the waste is recovered, at least in part.  It would be a shame not to.
Bion will commence trials in the first half of 2012 related to the production of single cell protein from the dairy waste fine solids at Kreider and its potential in the animal feed markets, in addition to its potential as an enhanced organic fertilizer product.
And then finally, the last part of the $#!*, the fines, are being used to produce more animal food, and back into the cycle.  It's sort of the same principal as using everything but the horns...

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