Photo- Octaform built dairy parlor for Hoeken Dairy Farm. Kinroi, Belgium
OREGON- Oregon's dairy industry seems to be bucking a trend that plagues other agricultural sectors nationwide. While the average age of farmers in general is going up, there appears to be an influx of young dairy operators in Oregon that is slowing down the graying of the state's dairy farmers overall. The enthusiasm of youth is helping the industry keep up with the times, both economically and environmentally.
While current statistics are hard to come by, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that Oregon dairy's demographics are changing.
"I believe there is a much larger percentage of young people getting into the dairy industry in Oregon compared to other states," says Jim Krahn of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association. "At our latest convention, we had dairy farmers from Washington and Idaho in attendance and they commented on how they couldn't believe the high number of young people attending."
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has noticed as well. ODA's Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) Program hosted a manure management field day in late April for CAFO permit holders and operators. The field day focused on calibrating different types of manure application equipment, measuring and recording manure nutrient content, and implementing various cultural practices that help make manure management successful.
"For our staff, one of the most gratifying parts of the field day was the participation by the next generation of operators," says Wym Matthews, ODA's CAFO Program manager. "We had 16 operators under the age of 30. It is very important to note that the younger generation took the time to attend this activity. We were impressed by their interest level and questions."
Certainly, some of the younger attendees were strongly encouraged to attend the field day by their fathers- the primary dairy operator. But others took their own initiative to be there and learn more about successful manure management.
"We all know the future of successful agricultural operations depends on cultivating the next generation of farmers," says Matthews. "If Oregon's future CAFO operators are like this group of young individuals, Oregon's CAFO agriculture operations will be in very capable hands."
Dairy farming in Oregon has survived as well as any state for a couple of reasons. First, the growth in organic dairying, while not unique to Oregon, has provided a market for a value-added product. Secondly, the Tillamook area continues to provide the opportunity for farmers to graze their dairy cattle- something that's not always an option in other states.
Younger dairy farmers are coming into the business from different directions.
"Dairy farming is what I've always known, " says Matt Perrin of Perrin Family Dairy in Woodburn. "It's part of who I am. In a way, I've always known it is something I would do. But I also didn't want to see all of my dad's hard work just disappear. Dad said he would love it if I continued the farm, but only if I wanted to."
Perrin's education included a degree in general agriculture from Oregon State University. He's also attended numerous conferences and trainings, including the ODA field day. But it was the life-long job training gained by working alongside his father that has most given him the skills to be successful.
Perrin has been a very active leader as well. He currently is a board member of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association.
Pete Mahaffy is just as active and interested in Oregon's dairy industry, but it wasn't always that way. He and his wife Kelly currently run a 200-acre dairy near Coos Bay.
"I grew up on my family's farm, but I had no interest in returning when I left for OSU," says Mahaffy, who received a general agriculture degree but minored in horticulture. "The one moment that changed by direction was a guest lecture on intensive rotational grazing. It seemed like a perfect theory for the river valley that the farm was located on east of Coos Bay. That led me to work for an organic dairy farmer following graduation, where I could learn my craft prior to returning home."
Mahaffy's parents did not encourage him to return home because they knew dairying was a hard life. Still, he made the decision to be part of the next generation of dairy farmers in Oregon.
"The attitude of the dairy operators has changed significantly in the last nine years since I returned home," says Mahaffy. "Some thought organic was just a flash in the pan moment, but the industry has matured to the point that there is confidence in its long term stability."
Both Perrin and Mahaffy agree that the younger generation of Oregon dairy farmers has a high interest in best management practices and good stewardship. That doesn't mean their parents do not share that interest. But with additional education and better technology, the new wave of operators may have an advantage.
"These young people are concerned about the product they are producing, the way their animals are handled, and environmental stewardship" says ODFA's Krahn. "They realize that dairy farming today is not just milking cows. It's a well-rounded approach that includes taking care of the animals, the land, and the water."
Young dairy farmers are also being molded into leaders. ODFA offers a dairy leadership program to help engage the next generation. The program provides media training, meetings with legislators, and opportunities to attend industry meetings. It's all part of giving young dairy farmers as many tools as possible to succeed in today's fast-changing world of agriculture.
"The whole process we've set up helps make these young dairy farmers feel welcome and they are encouraged to be involved," says Krahn.
For the Oregon consumer, it's good to know there is a new wave of dairy farmers arriving on the scene.
New York’s Largest On-Farm Biogas Project Generates Renewable Energy for Nearly 1,000 Homes
COVINGTON, N.Y.- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined state and local officials today at the grand opening of New York state’s largest on-farm, ‘co-digestion’ biogas power project, marking an important boost to the state’s renewable energy production and sustainability efforts. The facility is located at Synergy Dairy, a 2,000-head dairy farm in Covington, Wyoming County, southwest of Rochester.
By anaerobically digesting waste from local food processors in addition to the dairy’s cow manure, the 425 ton per day, mixed-waste facility is more cost-effective. The facility has created about a half dozen jobs while enhancing the efficiency of the 30-employee farm’s operations and sustaining area food manufacturers and haulers.CH4 Biogas LLC built, owns and operates the project under the name Synergy Biogas LLC. The Synergy Biogas LLC plant also is the state’s first biogas project specifically designed for the co-digestion, or processing, of animal and food wastes. The biogas created in the 120,000-gallon co-digester is fueling a GE Jenbacher J420 biogas engine to generate 1.4 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is providing $1 million in incentives for the facility.
“This Synergy co-digestion biogas project is the cutting edge of energy technology and is an absolute revenue-producing game changer for our dairies and local economies. By recycling agricultural waste in biogas plants, dairies can reduces disposal costs, produce affordable renewable energy to run their operations and gain a revenue source by selling excess power to the grid. I’ve been proud to help keep this project on track to ensure it crossed the finish line,” said Senator Schumer, whose office helped coordinate federal and local funding for the project.
Schumer’s office also worked with the Wyoming County Industrial Development Agency to help Synergy Biogas LLC complete the facility and partner with Cornell University and Rochester Institute of Technology to evaluate the project’s performance.
The project is expected to reduce the dairy farm’s baselood greenhouse gas emissions by about 8,500 tons of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of 1,700 automobiles. The facility also will produce an estimated 17,500 cubic yards of bedding material for livestock while reducing manure odors and helping the farm manage nutrients applied to cropland.
Through its partnerships with local food manufacturers, Synergy Biogas LLC already has diverted more than 1.14 million gallons of food waste from landfills and wastewater treatment facilities, highlighting another environmental benefit of the project.
“We are excited to launch our new co-digestion biogas project that will optimize the recycling of agricultural biomass waste into a valuable renewable energy resource to help reduce our operational costs,” said John Noble, president and CEO of Synergy Dairy.
National Grid is supporting the project as part of its broader strategy to help upgrade New York state’s energy infrastructure, promote further economic growth in the region and encourage the development of renewable energy resources. Under its renewable energy marketing program, the utility is purchasing the electricity generated by the biogas plant, which it states will produce approximately 10,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy per year—enough electricity to power nearly 1,000 homes. National Grid provided a $750,000 grant through the company’s Renewable Energy and Economic Development Program to cover the cost of building the substation that connects the facility to the grid.
Outlook Promising for More N.Y. Dairy Farm Digester Projects
The Synergy Biogas LLC operation is the first of several N.Y. dairy farm digester projects that CH4 Biogas and GE Energy plan to build. Such projects illustrate how the state’s food and beverage industries can utilize their on-site waste streams to produce free fuel for power generation.
According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in 2011 the state had 5,300 dairy farms with more than 600,000 dairy cows. However, less than 20,000 of those cows were being utilized in energy production, through the use of 17 digesters that produce a combined 3 MW. As of 2011, an additional 17 digester systems were awaiting installation to generate a combined 6 MW.
The Synergy project illustrates how incentives offered by NYSERDA are supporting the purchase, installation and operation of more anaerobic digester gas-to-energy systems to help the state create a more sustainable agricultural sector.
In addition to NYSERDA and National Grid‘s respective financial support, the Synergy Biogas LLC project also qualified for a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) under the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005. As part of the 2009 federal stimulus initiative, the U.S. Treasury will pay this tax credit as an ITC cash grant for qualifying projects that began construction before the end of 2011.
The global biogas plant market is set to reach nearly $9 billion in 2017, according to a new report available on companiesandmarkets.com. The desire to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, heightened attention to eco-friendliness, and government incentive programs will continue to step up investment in biogas facilities.
Octaform tanks are corrosion resistant and go up fast; ideal for the volatile environment of anaerobic digesters.
Biogas is a clean gas obtained from biomass, a renewable energy resource derived from food processing wastes, sewage treatment sludge, as well as animal and human excreta. Narrowing cost differential between fossil fuels based electricity generation and biogas energy in recent years has further augmented interest in renewable resources. Today, biogas competes on par with petroleum-based fuels in terms of performance, cost, and other additional benefits such as reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Europe and the United States account for the majority of the global biogas plants market. The biogas plant market is mainly located in Europe, with Germany accounting for the majority of European and Global biogas production and consumption. Other significant European biogas markets are the UK, Italy and Spain.
The increasing application of renewable fuels in transport sector across the world also supports the growth of the biogas industry. Renewable fuels, such as biodiesel and bioethanol, demonstrate limitations in terms of reduction in greenhouse gases, and resource efficiency. Biogas, prepared from by-products of biodiesel and ethanol, and from the anaerobic digestion of energy crops and organic residues, holds an advantageous position in terms of resource efficiency and environmental perspective.
Major companies in the market are 2G Bio-Energietechnik, BIOGAS NORD, BKN Biostorm, BTA International, CCS-agriKomp, EnviTec Biogas, GHD, HAASE Energietechnik, Organic Waste Systems, RCM Digesters, Schmack Biogas, STRABAG Umweltanlagen, UTS Biogastechnik among others.
Biogas Plants: A Global Strategic Business Report provides a review of market trends, issues, drivers, company profiles, mergers, acquisitions and other strategic industry activities. The report provides market estimates and projections for major geographic markets including the United States, Japan, Europe, China, India, and Rest of World.
To learn more about biogas and the anaerobic digestion process, download this free e-book:
Commercial micro-crop technology provider PetroAlgae recently announced the completion of a major third party study showing that micro-crop meal performs as well as alfalfa in dairy cattle diets.
The micro-crop technology employs indigenous, aquatic micro-organisms suitable to local climates and is designed to enable its technology licensees to produce a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels, a high-value protein co-product, and a new micro-crop meal for animal feed (which was the subject of the study), while absorbing carbon dioxide from greenhouse gas emissions.
The study encompassed a continuous 6-week feeding trial of a statistically significant sample of 36 dairy cows in the barns at the University of Minnesota.
“The results of this study show that PetroAlgae micro-crop meal is a desirable ingredient for high producing dairy cattle and that it performed comparably to high-protein alfalfa meal,” said Dr. Noah Litherland, who performed the study at the University of Minnesota. “We are encouraged to see this product perform so well against one of the more universally understood products in dairy nutrition
The University of Minnesota study is the first to validate PetroAlgae micro-crop meal in the dairy diet against the industry standard, and its findings about PetroAlgae micro-crop meal and alfalfa should apply anywhere this market exists. Furthermore, the local deployment advantages of PetroAlgae’s technology and the continuous nature of its production process, create supply chain advantages for the faster-growing dairy markets in Asia and the Middle East, all of which have a growing dependence on imports. Micro-crop farms utilizing PetroAlgae’s technology grow new sources of protein, feed, and fuel feedstocks locally that are not genetically modified and are resistant to local diseases.
“We are very excited with the findings of Dr. Litherland and his team at the University of Minnesota, said Anthony Tiarks, CEO of PetroAlgae. “Confirming our product value against such a large and well-understood feed market is a key step in accelerating our commercialization and opens the door for bringing PetroAlgae micro-crop meal to other species and feed applications. We believe the need for imports and destination market risks in the supply chain can be greatly reduced by utilizing our technology. It can also provide a longer-term supply solution to the decline of forage acres around the world, as competing crops like corn, soybeans, and cotton displaces forage.”
After the successful lauch of CVPS Cow Power in Vermont, the B.C. Agricultural Research and Development Corporaton (ARDCorp) is bringing the Cow Power program to B.C.
Under this program, B.C.’s electricity consumers will have the option to buy their electricity from on-farm AD systems by paying a premium on their electricity bill (an additional ¢4/kWh)1. The majority of this premium, in combination with the price paid for renewable electricity by B.C. Hydro, will pass back to the agricultural producer, increasing both the profitability and number of AD systems built in B.C.
Once purchased through Cow Power, customers become the owner of the anaerobic digestion-derived electricity and all of the environmental benefits associated with the anaerobic digestion system. Businesses can use these environmental benefits to create a unique identity for their product/service. Residential customers are rewarded through knowing their choice has helped reduce negative environmental impacts.
Octaform Systems along with the following organizations are proud sponsors of the Cow Power Program:
- Investment Agriculture Foundation
- B.C. Bioenergy Network
- B.C. Ministry of Agriculture
- B.C. Milk Producers Association
- CH-Four Biogas Inc.
- European Power Systems Ltd.
- Organic Resource Management Inc.
Anaerobic Digester built with Octaform's SNAPLock Tight System for CCS-agriKomp, Millbrook, ON.
According to B.C. Hydro stats, 1.63 million residential and 194,000 light industrial/commercial electricity customers consumed 17,600 and 17,800GWh of electricity in 2010, respectively. If the Cow Power Program secured just 0.5% of these residential and light industrial/commercial customers (which judging by the success of CVPS Cow Power in Vermont should not be a problem), this would create demand for 177GWh/year of AD-derived electricity. Meeting this demand would require the construction of roughly 56 Anaerobic Digesters producing 3.15GWh/year electricity each. These systems would require a capital investment of approximately $112 million, and would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 156,000 tonnes/year. This is equivalent to removing 74,500 cars from B.C.’s roads.
Not only will Cow Power have a positive impact on B.C.'s local air and water quality, it will significantly reduce odour from agricultural operations. Go Cow Power!