Gov. Hogan visits Dorchester farm
RHODESDALE — Gov. Larry Hogan visited Double Trouble Farms of Rhodesdale on Monday, Feb. 13, to present owner and operator Bob Murphy with a governor’s citation for the new poultry waste management technology used by the farm.
“This really is innovative technology,” Hogan said. “Agriculture is our number one industry in Maryland. Not everybody realizes that, and the poultry industry is our most important part of that. We’ve been as supportive as we possibly can for our farmers, for our poultry industry. This issue of poultry waste has obviously been a problem everyone has been wrestling with for a long time.”
Murphy said that, over time, restrictions concerning the use of poultry manure as fertilizer will only limit the industry further and a solution must be found.
“I’ve been working on this project with my sons for three years, and we really believe that this is the ticket to the poultry industry to help with manure,” said Murphy. “This is going to generate a pot ash, and we hope to sell that to people for potted plants or cement companies can mix it in with their product. There’s going to be a market for it. We’re really excited about it. It was nice of the governor to be down, and nice for the state of Maryland to be involved in this project.”
Irish agri-tech company Biomass Heating Solutions Limited (BHSL) pioneered this technology, beginning with application in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Double Trouble Farms is the first farm state-side to test it out.
The technology is called fluidized bed combustion, a process that converts poultry waste into energy that is then used for electricity needs on the poultry farm.
Also, the heat generated by the process is vented into the chicken houses to keep them warm.
Benefits of this pilot project also include reduced environmental impact of manure, lower energy costs for heating, improved animal health and reduced risk of disease, faster poultry growth, and additional revenue from the sale of excess electricity and a fertilizer byproduct.
The main byproduct is an ash that BHSL said can be sold as a nonpolluting fertilizer, but it is about eight percent of the volume of the original material used, which BHSL says makes it cost effective to transport to grain-growing areas outside the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
“I am excited that a unique piece of technology designed in Ireland is going to transform US poultry production and play a crucial role in reducing the environmental impact of the industr y on the Chesapeake Bay,” Biomass Heating Solutions, Inc. Chairman Denis Brosnan said. “I hope this pilot project is the start of a broader initiative to turn poultry manure from a potential pollutant into a valuable source of energy.”
A Maryland Department of Agriculture grant to the tune of $1 million under the Animal Waste Technology Fund was instrumental in bringing this project to fruition. BHSL covered the remainder of the approximately $3 million project cost. Hogan said the project is a great example of publicprivate partnership.
Maryland’s Animal Waste Technology Fund is a grant program that provides seed funding to companies that demonstrate innovative technologies to manage or repurpose manure resources. These technologies generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, and repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer and other products and by-products. To date, the program has approved $3.7 million in grants to six projects.
According to BHSL, Murphy’s farm produces 3,650 tons of manure annually, which historically has been trucked to other farms as a fertilizer — a common practice on the Eastern Shore that is being challenged by phosphorus management pollution reduction regulations that will be implemented over the next several years.
The Phosphorus Management Tool aims to reduce legacy build-up of phosphorus in farmers’ soil. Chicken manure has high phosphorus content and has been the main target of the phosphorus regulations, which faced political scrutiny and debate for years before being passed last year. The regulations are being implemented over the course of the next several years, starting on farms with the highest amount of phosphorus in the soil.
“One of the realities here in Maryland is, right now, we do have enough acres to spread poultry manure by moving it around the Eastern Shore and getting it to fields that can use it,” Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder said. “The reality is, one day, they may not be there, and something is going to have to be done with it. This technology and this operation is going to enable poultry to remain not only an important part of Maryland agriculture, but also the number one industry for agriculture here in the state.”
Follow me on Twitter @ victoriadorstar and on Instagram @dorchester.star.
Biomass Heating Solutions Project Engineer James O’Sullivan, left, leads a tour Monday with Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder at Bob Murphy’s 112acre poultry farm in Rhodesdale, which recently installed manure-to-energy processing technology.
Gov. Larry Hogan cuts the ribbon Monday at the Murphy family farm in Rhodesdale after the farm installed Biomass Heating Solutions manure-to-energy processing technology.