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New technology turns manure into electricity

By: Charlene Sharpe |

Maryland Department of Agriculture officials awarded a Pocomoke farm and two other projects more than $1 million in grants Friday for their innovative waste management projects.

Pocomoke’s Millennium Farms, owned and operated by Jason and Kim Lambertson, received $676,144.47 in funding to help with the anaerobic digester and nutrient recovery system that’s been developed by Planet Found Energy Development.

“This funding was created to jumpstart new technology,” Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance said during a ceremony at the Pocomoke farm. “This is just another example of the commitment of the administration trying to help agriculture move forward. We’ve got to be progressive.”

Jason Lambertson said he was thrilled to be partnering with Planet Found and the Maryland Department of Agriculture on a project that would benefit his farm and at the same time keep phosphorous out of the Chesapeake Bay.

“We’re excited,” he said. “This is a big opportunity for us to prove new technology and take it to a scale where everyone can benefit.”

The project at Millennium Farms was designed to both reduce the amount of phosphorous getting into the watershed and to produce electricity.

“We had a goal of not only producing electricity but also of capturing the nutrients in poultry litter so phosphorous is not reapplied in the quantities you see in the litter,” said Andy Moss of Planet Found Energy Development.

He explained that poultry litter at the farm was first put into one of two pre-treatment tanks before being sent to the larger anaerobic digestive system. There methane–which powers the generators on the farm–is produced.

“It’s a self-sustaining system,” he said.

The final product is a litter-like substance that he said was a little wetter than average poultry litter but was not vastly different and could be used as poultry bedding. The nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium from the litter are separated into three distinct fertilizer products that can then be sold.

“So that phosphorous does not enter the Chesapeake Bay,” Moss said.

The funding announced Friday comes from the Animal Waste Technology Fund that was revitalized by Gov. Martin O’Malley to provide incentives to companies that demonstrate new farm technologies and develop alternative strategies for managing manure.

“By working to reach our sustainability goals,” O’Malley said in a news release, “we’ll grow our renewable energy portfolio and reduce the amount of run off going into our precious bay. This program is a win-win for our state.”

The Maryland Department of Agriculture plans to award a total of $2 million from the Animal Waste Technology Fund this year. Along with the funding given to the Lambertson project, Green Mountain Technologies received $388,310 two composting projects.