Membrane technology to address excess water problem on Washington dairy

“We really don’t have a nutrient problem; we have a water problem,” states Galen Smith, partner and general manager of Coldstream Farm LLC in Deming, Washington.

With their new 50-stall rotary parlor that has the capacity to milk 2,200 cows three times a day, Smith says their goal is to maximize the use of this new facility. Results from a recent collaboration to remove water from manure look favorable to achieving that goal.

As a pilot program, the Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC) awarded a $930,305 grant to install and operate a clean-water membrane technology system provided by Regenis, an agricultural waste solutions company. This system will generate 12,000 gallons of clean water daily from the 60,000 gallons of cow manure the farm produces through a unique combination of nano-filtration and reverse osmosis.

Once treated, the water is suitable for farm animals to drink or even to benefit local salmon runs by increasing stream flow.

All the manure at Coldstream is stored in earthen lagoons that are clay-lined, and excess rain can pose a major problem. “In 2018, we received 72 inches of rain, and we are having to store all that rainwater in our lagoon.” Smith continues, “The water table is high here, and our lagoons are built with 2 feet of space above the high-water mark, so we end up collecting 4 or 5 feet of water in a lagoon that has a total height of 12 feet, and that doesn’t leave us much room for manure.”

While Coldstream has plenty of available ground in the area to spread manure, they would like to use the manure more efficiently with a “zero-waste mentality.” Smith says, “Manure is very valuable to us to grow crops, so we are working on making better utilization of it.”

It was perfect timing for the pilot program, as Smith was investigating ways to concentrate manure and eliminate excess water. He penciled out putting covers over the lagoons to cut down on the collection of rainwater, but he found it to be cost-prohibitive. “It was going to cost us about half to three-quarters of a million dollars, and it really didn’t solve the problem,” he says.

Smith continued to search for a solution, vetting different companies and their technology. Through conversations with […]

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Membrane technology to address excess water problem on Washington dairy
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Membrane technology to address excess water problem on Washington dairy
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Coldstream has plenty of available ground in the area to spread manure, but would like to use the manure more efficiently with a “zero-waste mentality.”
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Progressive Dairyman
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