Food waste coming on the farm? Consider where the nutrients go and manure processing for nutrient export

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Public policy is increasingly evolving to reduce or divert waste from limited landfill space. One way to accomplish this is by reducing the many tons of organic waste such as food processing waste, food scraps, and spoiled fruits and vegetables that are landfilled annually. These materials have nutrients and organic matter that can be beneficial to farms when managed properly. Dairy farms are used to handling large volumes of manure, and they have equipment and expertise that could be useful to manage organic material diverted from landfills. Dairy farms may have more opportunities to take organic materials diverted from landfills in the future. This food waste may benefit the farm by providing organic solids as soil amendments, nutrients (if needed on the farm), and energy if fed through an anaerobic digestion (AD) system. The tipping fees that accompany the food waste may provide a revenue stream for the farm, but there will likely be extra equipment, labor, and structural costs, as well as management time to properly handle these materials. Before planning to take food wastes, the farm should examine their manure handling system and nutrient management plan (NMP) to determine the impact of additional volume and nutrients, and if they have enough land for sound nutrient recycling. There are advanced manure treatment technologies that may enable excess nutrients to be removed and or exported off the farm if adequate land base is not available to recycle the nutrients according to a nutrient management plan.

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Progressive Dairy magazine is printed 20 times each year for forward-thinking U.S. dairy producers. The award-winning magazine's editors and contributors provide compelling features, helpful articles, insightful news analysis, and entertaining commentary about the people, practices and topics related to a dairy lifestyle.


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food; waste; manure; processing; anaerobic; digestion


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