• WisBusiness

Friday, September 18, 2015

MaryBeth Matzek: Sheboygan dairy invests in new technology to deal with manure

By MaryBeth Matzek
Wisconsin is home to a lot of cows and, unfortunately, that means a lot of manure. But farmers across the state are looking to a variety of solutions to help manage it.

Under rules from the Department of Natural Resources, all farms with more than 1,000 animal units need to file a management plan with the state to address how they'll deal with manure. New technology is providing more options to farmers. For example earlier this year, Shiloh Dairy near Brillion in Calumet County put in a system that converts manure to potable water and nutrients that can be used as fertilizer and now Majestic Meadows Dairy in Sheboygan Falls is installing a first-of-its-kind fully integrated manure management system.

Digested Organics LLC began construction over the summer at Majestic Meadows on a new integrated manure management system, which will process 20,000 gallons of manure per day, effectively harvesting energy through biogas generation, concentrating nutrients for more targeted crop use, and reclaiming clean water for farm use and surface water discharge. The goal is to have it operational before the World Dairy Expo later this month in Madison.

"We had been looking at manure treatment systems for years, but we just couldn't get comfortable with either the technology or the costs involved," says Dean Strauss, managing partner and co-owner of the Majestic Meadows Dairy. "Digested Organic's solution is the right fit for our farm, allowing us to concentrate key nutrients for our crops into substantially less volume at a competitive operating cost – that means getting manure trucks off the road and reduced hauling costs."

Strauss also liked that the system is highly automated and has a small footprint. "It's environmentally sustainable – something that's important to us and our community," he says.

Chris Maloney, Digested Organic's chief operating officer, says the system being installed combines a high efficiency/low residence time anaerobic digester with a highly automated ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis system that concentrates nutrients into 30 percent of the original manure volume while recovering about 70 percent of the original volume as clean water suitable for drinking water for the animals, washing and flushing on the farm or direct discharge to local waterways with DNR approval.

Airport property 'development ready'

More than 33 acres of land at Austin Straubel International Airport, just west of Green Bay, has been designated a Certified in Wisconsin development-ready site by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

The certification gives site selectors and business owners confidence knowing that building plans will not be held up by costly delays in permitting and approvals, says Airport Director Tom Miller.

"The parcels owned by Austin Straubel offer prime locations for many types of businesses looking to locate or expand in Brown County," he says. "With WEDC's certification, we now have the opportunity to draw more attention to the commercial opportunities available next to one of Wisconsin's premier transportation hubs."

The Certified In Wisconsin Program, which was launched in 2012, provides potential tenants with all the information needed to make quick decisions about whether that site is right for their needs, such as utility and transportation infrastructure, environmental assessments and quality of labor force. WEDC markets the certified sites through its Locate In Wisconsin website. Other Certified In Wisconsin sites are located in Westport, Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Beaver Dam, Beloit, Chippewa Falls, DeForest, Fitchburg, Howard, Janesville, Menomonie, Prescott, Verona and West Bend. Development is currently underway at the Stevens Point, Beloit, Fitchburg and Prescott locations.

Apprentice program gets boost

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand its Wisconsin Apprenticeship Growth and Enhancement Strategies (WAGE$) project. The program will add new apprenticeships in 12 high-growth areas including advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology.

Under the program, up to 1,000 new apprentices and 542 current workers will receive additional training and skill development.

The DWD is working with the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Wisconsin Workforce Development Association to develop and promote registered apprenticeship programs in the state. -- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

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