Nutrient Conservation with Dairy Cattle

When it comes to cattle, Fraser Valley dairy farmers have their hands full.

Large herd sizes mean dealing with increasing amounts of manure which must be managed properly. Much of this nutrient resource can be returned to the soil, but farmers must be able to store the manure during winter to ensure spreading at proper times. Storage is expensive and manure management can limit the growth of the dairy industry, not just in the Fraser Valley but throughout Canada.

This led IAF and councils across the country to fund the University of British Columbia (UBC) in finding a solution.

Using technology they developed to remove phosphorus from municipal sewage waste-water, UBC researchers adapted it for use on dairy cattle manure, allowing producers to recover excess phosphorus and nitrogen as a concentrated slow release fertilizer, struvite.

Not only does nutrient conservation reduce the need for manure storage and decrease disposal costs for farmers, the struvite created provides a potential new source of income for farmers.

Researchers have even discovered that the biogas produced during the process can potentially be converted into heat or electricity, generating further environmental and economic benefits!

Now nearing completion, it is anticipated that this three-year applied research project will significantly impact livestock farms across Canada. Dairy producers across the country can look forward to new alternatives for manure disposal that will enhance soil conditions and reduce their burden of storage and removal.

Kerry Doyle, president of Manure Systems Inc. in Abbotsford, is well acquainted with the problems faced by dairy farmers with manure disposal.

“Nutrient segregation and capture is at the forefront of the dairy industry’s concerns across North America, and I am proud to see Canada leading the way towards a solution that will significantly aid dairy farms,” says Doyle. “Technology like this is especially valuable as it addresses both environmental and financial aspects of today’s livestock industry, both saving producer costs and turning this practice into an additional revenue centre on farms.”

Funding: up to $272,500 through former federal adaptation programming provided by IAF and councils in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. (W0112CO)