From Poop to Power

Turning manure into electricity!

by Amiee Jones – May 16, 2018

A local farm is pioneering innovative territory for our area! With thousands of pigs to tend to, the Remley family (Remley Farms Energy LLC) had no shortage of manure at their disposal. Seeing this material as a resource, Drew and Lisa, along with their children, pressed through a journey that ended up taking five years to complete. Their goal was to become more self-sustaining, more environmentally conscious, and to reduce long-term utility costs. How did the Remley’s realize this significant objective? Through installing a Digestion Facility right on their farm!

Manure digesters have become increasingly popular in recent decades, and as technology advances, they are more reliable and efficient than ever. The process, otherwise known as Anaerobic Digestion, collects all manure and waste in to a large concrete reservoir. This basin is covered, and underneath the waste undergoes the digestion process. The temperature is regulated, the material is stirred, and as a result, gas rises up out of the waste and is trapped by the covered. This gas, mostly methane, is then extracted from the reservoir and transferred to a generator. This larger-than-life generator gets its very own room on the farm, and for good reason. Running on the methane obtained from the waste basin, this generator powers the entire Remley farm! We’re talking an electric bill that reached $4000 in peak season (according to Drew and Lisa), completely eliminated by this new system, with enough left over to power 140 homes annually! As Lisa puts it, they are literally turning “poop to power”!

After the gas is separated and taken from the waste, the remaining manure/waste is transferred to another basin where it waits to be spread as fertilizer. Drew mentioned, however, that extracting the methane from the manure tames its trademark, pungent smell. Another benefit to their digester: less stink for the neighbors!

In addition to the pig manure being used for such a significant benefit, there is a food waste element that goes in to this equation, as well. Throughout the extensive bio-chemical studies and testing that have been performed to develop anaerobic digestion abilities, the discovery was made that adding food to the process actually helped the bacteria growth necessary for the digestion process. This addition becomes a reality by companies delivering food supplies to the Remley’s, that do not meet retail standards. Most of the products are in plastic containers (apple sauce, juice, syrups, etc.). The containers are thrown in to a machine that crushes them down. The contents go in to one receptacle to be added to the digester, and the containers go to another to be recycled. This aspect of the process provides a significant environmental benefit. Pallets upon pallets of food supplies are being recycled and used as a fuel source, rather than being taken to a landfill. Even the cardboard used for shipping is put in to a bailer, and condensed for recycling. Reuse and recycle is the name of the game at the Remley farm, an environmental challenge they are definitely winning!

So, why haven’t more operations adopted this resourceful, beneficial method of farming? The significant front-end cost of a digestion facility is an intimidating, and sometimes impossible hurdle to overcome. For the Remley’s, this step was achieved largely through grant funding. Lisa shared about their family’s experience in pressing through the application process for different grants for years. “We gave up 100 times!” she exclaimed. But, their family attributes the success of their endeavors to God, as their prayers were answered time and time again. When the project had reached 95% of the funding necessary through grants, a local bank stepped in to partner with the Remley’s the rest of the way.

On Thursday, May 10th, an appreciation event took place at the Remley Farm to mark the official finish line for the venture. Informational tours were given by Richard Mattocks (Senior Technical Advisor of the Martin Energy Group) who represented the company that installed the digestion system. Community members and local farmers came to learn more about the process. Lunch was provided, and State Agricultural Secretary, Russell Redding served as keynote speaker for the afternoon. The event was meant to thank the agencies, the bank, the contractors, and everyone else who played a part in achieving this huge goal, and to recognize Martin Energy Group, for expertly installing the system. The Remley’s were given a beautiful day to host this special event, and to celebrate their exciting milestone.

Credits:
Idea/Concept: Amiee Jones
Videography: Kaitlyn Callahan
Video Editing: Kaitlyn Callahan
Writing: Amiee Jones
Correspondent: Amiee Jones

Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by Arcadia Theatre, Akiko’s Floral Arts

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