University of New Hampshire researcher John Aber has been using a Northeast SARE Agroecosystems award to explore the waste streams and energy cycles on an organic dairy farm. The purpose of his research is to help dairy farmers take advantage of manure, bedding, and waste hay by turning it into energy and fertilizer for the farm or for sale. This 3 minute video describes how the on farm composting system works. The heat generated by the composting process is captured and used for farm hot-water demand, accounting for about 20% of the value of the system.
“Composting is a growth industry and this is a very cost effective way to compost and to capture energy created in the process,” says Aber. Farms can use the compost as a fertilizer and soil amendment or bag it and sell it. For more information on this kind of composting system, you can contact John Aber or Matt Aber, research scientist at UNH’s Organic Dairy Research Farm.
Research in California has found that spreading compost on pastures and rangelands is also an excellent way to increase soil carbon sequestration. Dr. Whendee Silver’s results show that spreading a half inch of compost over 5% of California’s rangelands would sequester enough carbon to offset about 65% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from energy use for commercial and residential sectors in in the state. We’ll be covering more about the results of this research in future issues of On Pasture.