In Spring 2019, one of the owners from Alves Dairy reached out about applying for an Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) grant through CDFA. Only one other project like this in the area exists, so tackling this sort of large-scale manure management project was exciting!
The CDFA AMMP Program provides financial assistance for the implementation of manure management practices in California, which will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. This grant program is open to all livestock operations, although dairies are the most common applicants. A total of 58 projects have been funded since the grant program started in 2017, resulting in 716,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents reduced in 5 years. These projects can fall under four general categories, pasture-based management, solid separation, alternative manure treatment and storage, and conversion from flush to scrape.
The Alves Family started their Dairy in the 1920's and have sustained their operation in the county ever since. The four brothers, Greg, Rich, Gary and Mike, and the next generation, Chris and Scott, share responsibilities for the operation, where they have game birds, corn, alfalfa, orchards and their dairy, with each partner taking on a role to make the whole farm run smoothly. The family is very involved in the community and support local projects and organizations as well.
The Alves originally came to UCCE with this idea because they wanted to improve manure management practices on the dairy and reduce their overall methane emissions. Greg, one of the brothers and owners, spent a large part of his time cleaning manure from the lagoons, taking time away from other important projects on the dairy. With this in mind, we constructed a plan to hopefully make his life, and others on the dairy, a lot easier and achieve significant environmental benefits.
The Alves applied under the solid separation category to install a manure separator, a concrete slab and walls, and a new pump that would replace an old diesel pump. The separator filtered out the manure solids, resulting in nutrient rich solid manure to be spread onto fields and reduce the amount of time the solids spend in anaerobic lagoons, creating methane gases. This project will also reduce a substantial amount of greenhouse gases due to not needing to use the excavator to move manure around, or as many truck loads to export the material.
On January 1, 2020, the project started and the Alves hit the ground running. All of the partners contributed their own time and energy to this project to make it such a success. Over the past six months, the Alves completely finished their project a year ahead of schedule, and have just recently completed their final verification with CDFA. The verification was done remotely this year and consisted of a Zoom call with Greg to answer some questions, talk about his experience and show off his finished project.
Greg has already seen the both environmental and personal benefits from the separator project and hopes to continue making the dairy more sustainable in the future.