ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $2 million in grants for two animal waste management technology projects in Cecil County and on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore. The grants are part of the state’s ongoing commitment to manage animal manure, protect natural resources and pursue renewable energy sources.
“Funding for these innovative projects represents our administration’s ongoing commitment to supporting our farmers and protecting our natural resources,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The Animal Waste Technology fund is one of many initiatives aimed at curbing nutrient runoff while promoting a sustainable agriculture industry.”
A $1.85 million grant was awarded to Kilby Farm, LLC in Cecil County to install an anaerobic digester at its 400-head dairy operation. The project represents a retrofit to an existing, but non-operational, digestion system that will create a reliable power supply for the farm throughout the year. This project is funded with the support of the Strategic Energy Investment Fund administered by the Maryland Energy Administration.
The system upgrade at Kilby Farm is designed to offset all or most of the farm’s energy requirements. Wiring, plumbing, physical alterations and equipment purchases will be covered by the grant. About 85,000 cubic feet of methane-rich biogas from the digestion of dairy manure and organic waste along with processed off campus wastes will fuel a 225 kW-rated reciprocating engine generator output (Maximum of 5,300 kWh/d) with a thermal recovery of up to 22,000,000 BTUs/day. The retrofit will allow the farm to convert more manure to solids and improve its management and transport of manure to others farmers seeking this valuable nutrient source for phosphorus-deficient crop fields.
Kilby Farm is a 500-acre operation located in the Colora community in western Cecil County. The operation includes the dairy farm, milk bottling plant, ice cream manufacturing plant, and microbrewery. The farm has been under new ownership since 2017, when it was purchased by Cliff and Andrea Sensenig. The Sensenigs have operated a successful dairy operation in Pennsylvania since 2002, where they successfully installed an anaerobic digester in 2012.
Planet Found Energy Development, LLC was awarded a $220,000 grant to install a soil blending and bagging system on an existing 1,250 ton/year combined anaerobic digestion and nutrient capture system facility. The new system upgrade will create tailored and stabilized field amendments and potting soils derived from poultry litter. The new technology creates a more precisely blended, nutrient-adjusted poultry litter product. This, in turn, allows nutrient application rates to be custom tailored to individual farms and products, resulting in large cost reductions for manure transport, since it promotes utilization on the Lower Eastern Shore while alleviating nutrient runoff concerns associated with the traditional use of poultry litter. Additionally, the system has the potential to greatly increase the market value of poultry litter by-products by producing customized products that reach beyond farm-based agriculture.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture issued a request for proposals in August 2017 and received four bids which were reviewed by a five-member technical review subcommittee. The subcommittee represented diverse skill sets and backgrounds, and its members were chosen from the 20-member Advisory Committee for the Animal Waste Technology Fund.
Reauthorized in 2013, the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Animal Waste Technology Fund provides grants to companies that demonstrate innovative technologies on farms and alternative strategies for managing animal manure. These technologies may generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, or repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer and other products and by-products. To date, the program has issued $5.85 million in grants.
More information on the program is available on the department’s website.
— Maryland Department of Agriculture