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Friday, 26 October 2012 08:11

Producers show off new manure handling technology

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Gerrit Haarman took over his father’s farm in 2006 and at the beginning of October began operation of his new compostor and liquid solid separator. The County of Lethbridge Agriculture tour made a stop at his dairy farm so patrons could learn and observe. Gerrit Haarman took over his father’s farm in 2006 and at the beginning of October began operation of his new compostor and liquid solid separator. The County of Lethbridge Agriculture tour made a stop at his dairy farm so patrons could learn and observe. Photo by Stephanie Labbe

During this year’s County of Lethbridge agriculture tour earlier this month, two stops were made at dairy farms that had new manure liquid separators.


The point of the separator is to reuse and recycle manure for dairy cows bedding. The manure goes through tubes and gets turned into soft, fluffy manure to be placed in the cows stalls as bedding.
They are used to help alleviate a lot of the volume in the dairy farmer’s lagoon.
Dairy farmers generally use wood chips as bedding which can be costly.
The first dairy farm seen on the tour with a solid liquid separator was Ed Vandenberg’s located near Picture Butte. He said the machine itself cost about $60,000 and about $10,000 for installation.
Vandenberg was able to get funding for the machine through a Growing Forward program run by Alberta Agriculture. His funding was received through the manure management program.
The process for Vandenberg to receive funding was a somewhat hefty task as he had to complete an environmental farm plan.
“These solid liquid separators, they’re a bonus for sure, because now Ed, he can be out there spreading probably half as much in the year — as opposed to what he was last year,” said Dwayne Rogness the rural extension specialist at the County of Lethbridge.
Vandenberg’s machine had only been running about a week prior to the tour stop at his dairy farm in early October.
The liquid runs through a pipe out to the lagoon. It is then run up a pipe into the machine and comes out as solids. Anything the machine can’t handle, gets cycled through another pipe back into the pit and the process starts over again.
Vandenberg explained the machine runs about an hour a day. Right now, he just has the solids forming a pile.
The moisture level is 60 per cent in Vandenberg’s dry manure. As far as Vandenberg knows, his machine is the biggest there is.
“The sawdust was getting so expensive and it was getting so hard to get good quality sawdust,” said Vandenberg as to why he decided to get a solid liquid separator.
Anything the cows pull out, gets recycled and goes back into the pit and gets turned into bedding.
So far, Vandenberg has noticed the cows like this bedding as it is much softer and thicker. As well, he has seen at other farms with a similar machine, cows don’t have sores on their feet anymore. Sawdust has potential to give the cows slivers.
The second dairy farm visited on the tour was the Coulee View Farm.
Gerrit Haarman took over the family dairy farm in 2006. There’s about 300 head on the farm and 650 acres.
The Coulee View farm has a solid liquid separator, but also a composter. The entire unit had only been running for about 12 hours prior to the tour stop.
The point of the composter is to heat up the solids to get rid of the biological count. There’s no chemicals added to the solids as it is heated by a fan.
The night before the tour stop, the composter was at 74 degrees and by the next day, it had increased to 86 degrees.
Haarman ereceted a building just for the composter and separator, which was partially added into the funding for the project. He will receive funding for the machine through the same program as Vandenberg.
The separators are newer machines that are becoming popular with dairy farmers and will save the dairy farmers in the cost of bedding. It’s another example of reduce, reuse, recycle.
For more information on the solid liquid separators contact Rogness at 403-380-1598 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor