Gov. Ho­gan vis­its Dorch­ester farm

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

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.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

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.

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