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New York State funding to assist local dairy farm project

The Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District will receive funds from the state as part of the Climate Resilient Farming Program for work on a project involving a local dairy farm.

The organization received $423,403 overall, with funds going toward the project and two other grants. The goal of the program is to reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change and to increase the resiliency of local farms in the face of a changing climate. Grant funds from the program go toward projects that mitigate the impact of agriculture on climate change for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and carbon sequestration, along with enhancing the on-farm adaptation and resilience to projected climate conditions due to heavy storm events, rainfall, and drought.

Soil and water conservation districts are the only organizations able to apply for and receive the funds.

“The Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program continues to provide our farmers and Soil and Water Conservation Districts with the resources they need to implement best management practices on the farm that are not only helping to protect our natural resources and reduce their environmental footprint but that are also providing them with a safeguard against extreme weather events that can devastate crops,” said Dale Stein, state Soil and Water Conservation Committee chair said. “With this increased funding, the program is reaching even more farms across the state. I’m proud of our agricultural industry and their contributions to the fight against climate change.”

The Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation’s $423,403 project is to work with a dairy farm in the Conewango Creek Watershed to install a cover and flare system. The installation of the cover will be the second-phase of an on-going waste reduction project where the farm is already installing a manure solids separator facility.

“The cover and flare grant will go to a dairy operation in the Conewango Creek Watershed that has opted to improve its manure management system on the farm,” said David Spann, district field manager. “They have recently completed a large manure storage to collect farm waste. To increase the efficiency of the manure collection system, this project will capitalize on a solids separator and cover and flare system.”

In order to increase the efficiency of the manure collection system, the project will capitalize on a solids separator and then methane digester. Stored manure has solid and liquid components, and when it needs to be removed from storage it needs to be stirred to get both components mixed and prevent solids from settling and taking up volume. By implementing a solids separator, the liquid is pressed out from the solids. The solids are repurposed on the farm or marketed and only liquid manure is still in the system.

“Now that there is only liquid manure going into the storage, a cover can be added to ensure ‘clean’ rainwater does not decrease capacity by mixing with the manure,” Spann said. “Once it’s covered, however, the manure generates methane gas. With the cover, this gas is captured. This project will install a methane flare, which burns off gas that builds up in the covered storage and reduces the methane released into the atmosphere.”

The methane digester would convert the off gassed methane into a usable fuel. The reduction of fossil fuel use on the farm would be attributed to the reduction in tractor use by not having to empty that storage when it also has volumes containing solids and rainwater. The project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate 3.4 million gallons of precipitation from entering the storage while also reducing fossil fuel use on the farm.

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