This week, Long Island-based Bion Environmental Technologies celebrated the groundbreaking of a state-of-art manure processing plant at Kreider Farms near Manheim, Pa. Just a week earlier, the Schroeppel town(ship), N.Y., board rescinded it's support of Bion's proposed 72,000 head feedlot and ethanol production facility.
Nearly a year ago, the board voiced support of Bion's project. Company officials contend plans were on hold pending the board's acceptance of a state-required environmental review. Local officials say Bion had not selected a site and had not filed any permits or applications.
But Bion's first Pennsylvania project got underway this week with the groundbreaking of an innovative dairy nutrient management facility at Kreider Farms. The Lancaster County facility was lauded by state agriculture and environmental officials. The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority had previously approved Bion's $7.75 million low-interest loan financing for its phase one project.
In brief, manure from the 1,200-cow main freestall barn will go through a screw press to separate out cellulosic material. Liquids will flow to the farms concrete manure storage tank that will be modified and covered to serve as an aerobic microbial bioreactor. The farm's older calf raising facilities were removed to make room for the screw press facility.
The patented process will aggregate nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients into particulate forms that'll be centrifuged out, "with substantial reductions in nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia and other greenhouse gases," notes Jeremy Rowland, Bion's chief operating officer. The cellulosic biomass and other solids will be used for a yet-to-be-determined renewable energy project.
The phase one project may also yield up to 60,000 carbon credits, estimates Rowland. And he adds, "This technology can be installed and paid for without subsidies."
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approved the nutrient credit certification plan. Bion's investment is expected to be recovered via 130,000 nitrogen credits and 16,250 phosphorus credits. Verified nutrient credits will then be sold to offset the discharges of regulated nitrogen sources facing much higher remediation costs, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants in the Susquehanna River watershed.
DEP Deputy Secretary John Hines says that "Technology is the solution to the Chesapeake Bay's tributary strategies. This is a game-changer, and the direction we need to go."
Pennsylvania State Senator Michael Brubaker also strongly supports the project. The Senate Ag Committee chair and soon-to-be chairman of the Tri-State Chesapeake Bay Commission adds that "We cannot fail to remove billions of pounds of nitrogen from our waters. This is one of the answers."
Phase one construction is expected to be completed in late winter or early spring. The nutrient recovery system fits into Kreider Farms' existing manure handling schematics. Once the system is up and operating, manure from the remaining dairy facilities is expected to be added into the system.
Phase two plans for developing a cellulosic biomass renewable energy facility incorporating Kreider Farms' four poultry operations are under way. It would, according to Bion projections, take 4-million pounds of nitrogen out the local environment from about 4-million laying hens. Those nutrient credit would also be sold.
The bottom line is that the facility will help Kreider Farms comply with the increasingly restrictive nutrient management regulations coming up river from Washington, D.C.