Pine Island Farm Anaerobic Digestion System Sheffield, Ma
Using new technology to lay a foundation of sustainability for the Aragi Family Farm
Manure as a resource and now, recycled, no waste.
Pine Island Farm is a partnership dairy operation jointly owned by Louis T. Aragi Sr. and Louis T. Aragi Jr. All the farm's tillable cropland is used to grow feed that is harvested for the farm's herd. The Aragi family has been farming at the 1474 location since 1964. Approximately 1600 head of Holstein dairy cattle make up the dairy herd at Pine Island Farm. In 2011 the farm took the opportunity from all other angles to think outside the box in order to take maximum advantage of their available resources and implement things that have benefited the farm-labor efficiencies, cost savings, and increased profitability. With the installation of a methane digester, the farm has been able to address environmental issues, and created by-products that are being used on and off the farm.
The volume of dried residual solids produced by the digester is used as animal bedding, currently the farm is generating more than sufficient bedding materials for farm use and the extra portion of this by-product is provided for sale at the farm.
Liquid fertilizer is a significant by-product of the digester process. The major benefit is that it possesses the nutritional value of manure but is odorless and, therefore, the Aragi's are able to spread this product to fields without causing problems to residents bordering crop fields. The nutrients have been preserved in the digester process, during the digester process it alters the end product so that when it is applied to fields the fertilizer does not burn growing crops and can, therefore, be applied to fields at any time throughout the growing season.
Heat is captured for re-use at the farm. With the use of a heat exchanger this has allowed the farm to heat water that is used in the milk house and to feed calves on milk replacer.
The anaerobic digester generates electricity that is used to support the electric needs of the farm and other farm structures and homes, it is also being provided to the electric grid through net-metering.