December 22, 2010 | General

Regional Roundup

BioCycle December 2010, Vol. 51, No. 12, p. 14

Firth, Nebraska
Prairieland Dairy, a recent listing on, consists of a 1,500-cow operation that composts all of its solid manure together with source separated organics taken in from surrounding communities. “We have an NPDES CAFO permit which in Nebraska allows us to compost 10,000 yards yearly of source separated organics,” explains Dan Rice, general manager of Prairieland Dairy, LLC. “We currently work with large and small companies to compost their compostable waste.” Some organic materials currently accepted are: waste cereal, spent whey, waste popcorn, school cafeteria waste, paper, cardboard and municipal grass and leaves. “Our site is a 10-acre pad that is fully contained,” says Rice. “We use windrow composting to generate our soil amendments, which are made into potting soils, growing mixes and a straight compost mix. We sell these products in both bagged and bulk, all of which are certified for organic crop use.” All products are available for pickup or delivery.
Find out more about Prairieland Dairy at
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Piggly Wiggly, America’s first self-serve grocery store, has launched a food composting pilot project, the first of its kind in Fond du Lac County, according to a WFRV Green Bay TV news report. “This is something we highly promote,” David Misterek, a solid waste management specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, told the news outlet. “If we can recycle or add to the materials we reuse, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.” According to the report, Compost Joe’s Premium Soils and Organics, LLC collects spoiled produce from one Piggly Wiggly location and hauls it to an 88-acre site where it is mixed with yard trimmings and turned into compost. As a result of the project more than 10,000 pounds of food waste were diverted from landfill and turned into compost between June and October. Piggly Wiggly employees have been trained to separate out expired produce from the rest of the store’s waste stream and put it in toters; the store also donates expired produce that’s no longer sellable but still edible to local food banks. Compost Joe has also set up collection arrangements with local coffee shops.
Chino, California
A $1,637,500 CalRecycle loan to Environ Strategy Consultants, Inc. (Environ) from the Recycling Market Development Zone (RMDZ) Loan Program will be used to purchase equipment – including hydropulpers and ancillary equipment – for an anaerobic digestion project that will process food waste from commercial and industrial sources. The project will be developed around an existing digester at the Inland Empire Utilities Agency’s (IEUA) Regional Plant No. 5 Solids Handling Facility. The biogas will be used to power two engine generators and produce electricity. The hydropulper system will separate the plastic, grit and other contaminants from the food waste into a homogenous organic liquefied pulp/slurry that will be used to feed the digester. This project will also produce compost from the recovered solids. Future expansion plans may include production of compressed natural gas (CNG) that can be used as a fuel in solid waste collection trucks and other heavy-duty truck fleets and for use in natural gas pipelines.
Environ has entered into a 10-year lease with the IEUA to rebuild and expand IEUA’s digester, which is currently lying dormant. This facility is already equipped with a material receiving building, AD-related equipment and two 1.5 megawatt biogas powered internal combustion engines for generating electricity. Environ will be targeting food wastes currently disposed in five area landfills. In the initial stages of the project, Environ projects to divert 150 tons/day or approximately 54,750 tons/year. When more fully operational, the processing capacity will expand to 300 tons/day or approximately 100,000 tons/year. The RMDZ loan represents 45 percent of the total project cost, estimated to be approximately $3,679,500. If all funding and equipment is secured according to project timelines, Environ anticipates beginning gas production by October 2011 and selling any surplus power to Southern California Edison. CalRecycle (aka the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery) administers programs formerly managed by the State’s Integrated Waste Management Board and Division of Recycling.
Mountain Grove, Missouri
With the assistance of $305,907 in Enhanced Enterprise Zone tax credits and a total capital investment of $6 million expected to create 90 jobs in this small rural community, 3G Processing will take in more than one million pounds a day of food processing waste from some of Grisham Farm Products’ biggest clients – including Tyson, Con Agra and General Mills – and sell it back to them as animal feed. The new company, owned by the Grisham family and set up specifically for the venture, renovated a former steel plant for the local operation. “With 90 local jobs being created, this is great news for the economy of Wright County and the surrounding area,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in a news conference at the newly renovated facility. “From day one, my administration’s top priority has been creating jobs and getting Missourians back to work. Over the past few months, companies both large and small have announced thousands of new jobs in every corner of Missouri, and we will continue to work tirelessly to create jobs and move our economy forward.” The project also is being touted as an environmentally friendly by diverting food waste from landfill.
Springfield, Wisconsin
Dane County is working with several farmers on construction of a second “cow power” facility that will convert manure into electricity and stop the runoff of pollutants into local lakes. Four dairy farm families in the Town of Springfield intend to partner with the county and Clear Horizons, a Milwaukee-based developer of organic waste management solutions, to develop the new facility. When complete, the new project is expected to generate about $2 million worth of electricity each year – enough to power about 2,500 Dane County homes. “Thanks to another great group of farmers, Dane County will have a second ‘cow power’ facility to generate home-grown energy and keep pollutants like phosphorus from flowing into the Yahara Lakes,” Dane County Executive Director Kathleen Falk stated in a press release. “Dane County has a $700 million dairy industry that employs 4,000 people. Helping farmers safely dispose of their manure makes it easier for them to grow their herds and preserve the future of farming in our county. Phosphorus is the biggest source of pollution in our lakes and this is another big step in cleaning up our lakes.” The 50,000 cows in the county produce over two billion gallons annual of manure.
Construction of Dane County’s first facility converting dairy manure to energy via anaerobic digestion began in the Town of Vienna in August and is progressing on schedule. Manure from several dairy farms will be processed. Completion of this digester project, which includes a phosphorus removal system, is expected by the end of this year, and partners believe it will serve as a model for similar future digester projects on farms across the Upper Midwest and throughout the country. The second manure digester will have the same phosphorus removal technology. Clear Horizons, Dane County and the four farms are working together to develop a proposed design and schedule for project construction and to identify the best site and layout. State funding of $3.3 million was approved by the State Building Commission in mid-November. The balance of funding for the project will be through private investment.
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
A fleet of hybrid school buses that double fuel efficiency rolled into action this fall, serving the Oconomowoc Area School District encompassing a 135-square-mile area outside Milwaukee. The buses are owned and operated by Oconomowoc Transport Company, a family run business that received grant funding from the Wisconsin Clean Transportation Program (WCTP) to upgrade buses to hybrids and install the solar recharging station with the capacity to generate the 60,000kWh necessary to keep them running. The hybrid buses comprise 25 percent of the fleet serving the school district. According to a state press release, the hybrids reduce carbon emissions by 30 to 40 percent, last longer and have lower maintenance cost. The WCTP is an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project jointly administered by the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence and Wisconsin Clean Cities.
San Diego, California
The gritty streets of City Heights in San Diego are an unlikely place to find a former IT manager raising tilapia as the throb of commercial traffic drones on. But Malaki Ogendi, part-time manager of a small-scale aquaponics project, seems content as he attends to the small details that keep the hardy fish alive and the plants thriving. A pint-sized fish farm located on a previously vacant lot is the latest experiment in food production for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a nonprofit organization focused on assisting refugee populations affected by famine, war and civil strife. As tilapia swim about in a murky broth, Ogedni explains the rudiments of the aquaponics system, a Rube Goldberg- like structure as envisioned by “Small is Beautiful” economist E.F. Schumacher.
Ogendi is no stranger to subsistence farming. During his childhood growing up near Lake Victoria, South Africa, farming and fishing were central to his family’s routine and village life. “We grew what we could and sold the surplus at the market,” he says. The stated goals of the tilapia project are similar: to provide healthy alternatives to processed food for the largely immigrant population living in the neighborhood, and to inspire would-be entrepreneurs curious about the inner-workings of raising tilapia in an urban environment. The project is an offshoot of the IRC’s precedent-setting New Roots Community Farm, a 2.3-acre garden where vegetables are grown for local consumption. The aquaponics component launched in February 2010 with equipment donated from the San Diego-based company Portable Farming and a quarter—acre of land leased from Price Charities, a local nonprofit foundation. The fish farm is housed inside a hoop shed with two 700-gallon tanks. Wastewater flows through PVC piping; beneficial bacteria break down the fish waste into nutrients that plants use as they take up water through their root balls. Water is filtered in the process, which then recharges the holding tanks. Compost and compost tea are produced from fish waste and garden residuals.

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