Manure Translates to Nutrients, Clean Water

Published online: Nov 09, 2018 Articles, Fertilizer Samantha Loomis
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Source: Agri-View 

Every farm that houses livestock produces manure. But not every farm processes that manure – at least not with a nutrient-concentration system.

Enter AQUA Innovations, a Wisconsin-based company that manufactures an emerging technology called the NuWay process. It uses a nutrient-concentration system to process cow manure.

AQUA Innovations is in the process of installing one of the systems in Middleton – the first in Dane County and the second in Wisconsin. Dane County purchased the system for $1.6 million and plans to lease the system to Springfield Clean Water LLC, which will operate it. The system will receive manure from the manure digester owned by Gundersen Health System.

“It’s a private-public partnership,” said Chris Lenzendorf, president of AQUA Innovations. “We are all working together.”

The NuWay process manages dairy manure with a liquid-solid partitioning system that targets suspended and dissolved solids in manure via a mechanical-separation process. There are two phases of the system. Phase one filters larger suspended solids. Phase two filters smaller dissolved solids. The final product is three separate streams, one of distilled water that can be discharged, one full of nutrients and one of unwanted phosphorus.

The overall benefits of the system are three-fold.

  • allows farmers to reduce costs for hauling and storing manure
  • reduces odor of manure pits and piles
  • removes phosphorus and suspended solids so leftover nutrients may be applied when needed

The system is not yet in operation. Lenzendorf said a building that will be used to house the processing equipment will be finished this year. The manure digester is already housed on-site. The system will be calibrated for use in 2019.

But the nutrient-concentration system isn’t geared only toward large companies or governmental bodies; he said it’s affordable for smaller dairy farms as well. Lenzendorf cites different financing options, lease agreements and farm collaborations to ensure affordability for dairy farmers.

Lenzendorf said he believes the system has beneficial cost-savings that will allow it to pay for itself.

Son-Bow Farms, a dairy farm near Spring Valley, Wisconsin, is home to the first installation of an AQUA Innovations nutrient-concentration system in the state. The system was installed in June of this year and began full operation in July for the 1,400-cow dairy. Owner Jay Richardson echoes Lenzendorf’s sentiments.

“The system absolutely does what it claims to do,” Richardson said. “The initial estimates were to save $1.50 to $1.80 per hundredweight of milk, and the preliminary numbers are coming in pretty close to target.”

While official numbers can’t be calculated until about one year after operation, he said he’s happy with the system.

“We believe it’s going to be a very positive innovative technology for the industry here in the state as well as in the country,” he said.

Richardson said he recommends the system to other dairy farmers.

“It’s a scalable technology,” he said. “Anyone with 700 cows or so and up could scale into something like this.

“Anyone whose cost of handling manure is in the range of 1.5 cents per gallon of manure should at least take a look into this technology.”