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Making dairy manure more valuable than milk


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The full proceedings paper is at:

CowPots are the invention of necessity. Brothers Matt and Ben Freund are second generation dairy farmers in the northwest hills of Connecticut. In dairy farming, the most challenging job is to manage the nutrient stream in an environmentally sound manner. In 1997 the brothers installed a methane digester to heat the manure coming out of a cold barn to be able to separate the liquid year round for field application with a drag line system. This made the farm much more efficient and timely while at the same time reducing soil compaction and improving crop yields. The solids which are composted were first used for bedding the herd and are now used to mold the CowPots, whose value far exceeded bedding value. Farmers and gardeners have always considered cow manure a wholesome organic soil amendment for their crops. The challenge was to find a new and better way to get manure to these soils while maintaining value to consumers.

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Making dairy manure more valuable than milk

  1. 1. Matthew Freund April 2, 2015 Making Manure More Valuable Than Milk “and it doesn’t even stink”
  2. 2. CowPots Factory 200 acres pastureland 400 acres add’l cropland 200 acres forestland BlackberryRiver Barns and Farm house Route 44 Lagoon Farm Market Neighbor Neighbor Freund’s Farm, Inc. A family farm since 1949
  3. 3. The Dairy Situation
  4. 4. Reduce input costs: –Rotational Grazing/Cropping –Energy efficient lights/coolers –Recycling –Renewable Energies-methane and solar Increase farm income: –Diversification –Forest management –Value added production Adjusting the price/cost ‘gap’ on our farm
  5. 5. Manure on our farm Renewable •100 lbs/cow EVERYDAY Recycled •Collect and burn methane •Apply separated liquids as fertilizer •Use solids for value added production – Additional solids used as cow bedding
  6. 6. Reducing our carbon hoof print
  7. 7. • Northeast SARE • CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection • CT Department of Agriculture • USDA NRCS EQIP • USDA Rural Development • USDA SBIR Turning cow pies into CowPots with grant funding from:
  8. 8. Proven Winners • Adding value to dairy byproduct for a profit • Managing excess nutrients • Green alternative for growers
  9. 9. Benefits of Growing in CowPots •Root penetration •Air pruning •3 month shelf life •No tearing or crushing •No plastic waste
  10. 10. Cont’d…Benefits • Peat Free • 100% Renewable • American made • Zero-waste stream manufacturing facility
  11. 11. 12 CowPots sizes + custom
  12. 12. The Proof is in the Poo "At the end of the season, manure-based containers had nearly completely degraded (88 percent), while straw, wood fiber, soil wrap, peat, coir, and rice hull degraded 18-47 percent."
  13. 13. And, how do you sell $#!*?
  14. 14. Growing production of CowPots
  15. 15. Questions?