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People come from miles around to get water from our spring.  The neighbor below us even pipes water into his house from our spring.  What gall for him to complain our septic tank was running down our hill and stinking up his property.  (We had just moved in but still...}

Farmer Bob just above us is a dairy farmer doing it the organic way.  Maybe that little something extra in the spring water is what draws the crowds.  We get our water from a well so it doesn't have any of that extra something in it just in case.

This diary is about doing farming the natural way.

I vowed not to look at what harm the evil bureaucrats at the EPA might be doing to those nice Amish farmers.

But I did.  Probably shouldn't be swearing like the Good Book says but since I don't have a Good Book around I couldn't look it up.

Farmer Bob is not Amish and probably doesn't get the high prices other organic farmers get.  But I can tell you for a fact that Farmer Bob and other farmers around us do it the organic way.  One needs only to smell the air up and down the roads in the Spring when the spreading of stuff like the overflow from our septic perfumes the air.  

How come our neighbor piping organic water from our spring didn't complain about them?

I guess they are better armed.

To the Amish:

"We are supposed to be stewards of the land," said Matthew Stoltzfus, a 34-year-old dairy farmer and father of seven whose family, like many other Amish, shuns cars in favor of horse and buggy and lives without electricity. "It is our Christian duty."

But farmers like Mr. Stoltzfus are facing growing scrutiny for agricultural practices that the federal government sees as environmentally destructive. Their cows generate heaps of manure that easily washes into streams and flows onward into the Chesapeake Bay.

Good thing Mr. Stoltzfus and his neighbors don't raise ducks.  The most productive cow can't begin to generate the output of a duck, pound for pound.

Then again, they probably do raise a few ducks.

We did.

Ducks are kinda neat.

But so are fish, like in Chesapeake Bay for instance.

Fish don't grow well in open sewers - except the Salton Sea where the world is upside down.

Maybe the Good Book says God hates fish and it is Mr. Stoltfus' Christian duty to kill fish as a good steward of the land.  I am not really up to date on Christian duties.

There is another way that the heathen of southeast Asia invented centuries ago.  Anaerobic digesters were then longitudinal boxes buried in the ground to produce actual fertilizer from manure.  The methane was a curiosity then.

Today, modern methods that go beyond anaerobic digestion can produce energy and recycle nutrients on limited land so the Chesapeake Bay and Baltic Sea and vast stretches of ocean with dead zones are fully alive again.

But that means winters may not be finished and bears and penguins can go on living like the fishies and birdies and we won't need BP to finish them off.

There are always trade-offs.

Best,  Terry

Originally posted to terryhallinan on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 01:10 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Best saying regarding farming methodology: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    Just because it's old doesn't make it good, just because it's new doesn't make it better.

    While we've solved the crap in the water problem in lower NYS for now, the better fix as you've described involves $, which the gov't is very short of these days. Better funded (and better educated) dairymen are installing digesters, but a "plug and play" unit is still not available. I'm sure you need regulatory approval to install a digester, small farms are so over-regulated here it's ridiculous.

    "Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." -Japanese Proverb

    by the fan man on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 04:42:37 AM PDT

    •  Any Link? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sure you need regulatory approval to install a digester

      Possible but the countryside is dotted with unused digesters like a modern stonehenge.

      Did they all get approvals?

      Why unused?

      It is hard to imagine your "plug and play" capability becoming reality anytime soon.  Very germane comment.

      Digesters are an ancient technology.  Not the latest and greatest.  Low aerobic processing is more efficient.

      Best,  Terry

      •  look up NYSERDA docs, depending on scale (0+ / 0-)

        local and/or county approval may be necessary when you move from simply holding the crap to making use of methane.
        "The Guide for Siting Small-Scale Biomass Projects in New York State" NYS is promoting it, doesn't mean it isn't subject to regulation.

        "Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." -Japanese Proverb

        by the fan man on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 02:48:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks, Fan Man (0+ / 0-)

          I am reasonably confident NY requirements are not the same as Alaska.

          In Anchorage last I heard, they had no zoning laws.  I thought a garbage dump or junkyard would be the worst neighbor until I read one guy got a firing range next door.

          From the NY handbook:

          developers of small biomass projects face many barriers, including informational barriers, permitting Requirements, and financing challenges.

          That was it.  I was not up to going on.  Life is too short.

          Understand neither storing nor utilizing methane is a necessity.  It can be flared, shipped or cleaned and converted but I shudder to think of what NY state would require for any option.  The fiber and nutrients could potentially be the most valuable product.

          Best,  Terry

  •  It isn't about organic vs non-organic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    The Chesapeake is being killed by to high a concentration of animals in a small space and the runoff from the manure. If it is like the Gulf of Mexico (before BP), it is also being killed by the chemicals being put in farms that wash out of the soil.

    While you barely mention the digester, that may be one aspect of sustainable farming that needs to be implemented.  

    After the Republicans burn down the world, they will prove the Democrats did it.

    by jimraff on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 05:16:05 AM PDT

    •  Yes It Is (0+ / 0-)

      Pollution spread over a greater area is still pollution.

      National Lead wanted to solve its pollution problems by building higher smokestacks and lengthening its discharge pipes into the Mississippi River.

      Regulators weren't impressed.

      Once again, manure can be a source of energy, fertilizer, fiber - or a pollutant.

      Our choice.

      Best,  Terry

  •  There was a USDA program (0+ / 0-)

    to help with the cost of methane digesters and similar projects. I don't know if the program still exists, though the Amish are reluctant to be involved with government programs anyway. Regulations may force some kind of action if the farm is truly a source of pollution. Having the spring water tested may be a start.

    •  Nutrient trading credits are available frm states (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina

      for those willing to install more efficient systems to recover nutrients rather than dumping them in the creek.

      That is only states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

      Best,  Terry

      •  Here is an editorial on the Chesapeake (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        terryhallinan

        you may be interested in. There has been a lot of action on cleaning up the Bay recently, although how much steam it will pick up since the BP gusher, is anyone's guess.
        http://www.pennlive.com/...

        •  Thanks, Marina (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina

          Pennsylvania provided grants and loan guarantees to clean up a large complex that produces eggs, milk and associated meat that was a horror.

          It is to use an engineered system that was an artistic success but financial disaster devised for municipal water systems.  Apparently it worked fine but municipalities weren't so hot on spending the money.

          So far, so good but there has been a hitch.

          Regulators.

          This is from a press release by the company:

          NEW YORK, June 23 PRNewswire-FirstCall -- Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board:BNET.ob - News) announced today that, as a result of extended negotiations with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), it has filed a demonstration project permit application with the PA DEP for Phase 1 of its Kreider Farms project.

          Bion's management believes that the demonstration permit will enable Bion to proceed with the project as a 'design / build' project without further costly delays prior to receipt of the full Water Quality Management Permit from the DEP.  The criteria for determining the success of the project under a demonstration project permit will be based on verification of the actual reductions of nitrogen across the system.  When the Kreider Farms system has demonstrated these reductions, Bion will file for the full Water Quality Management Permit utilizing its verified data and the 'as built' engineering drawings...

          Investors trying to make a buck might be best advised to bet on BP or Goldman-Sachs rather than those trying to clean up the messes we make.

          Best,  Terry

  •  Well, this is informative. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man

    We have a creek that runs on the other side of our fence.  There is 5-10 acres where some diaryman grazes his cows.  They come to drink in the creek and I have watched as they pooped right into the creek.  "This cannot be good", I thought.  Then I figured the dairyman must know best.

    Nope, I guess not. And ew, just ew.....

    One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

    by ohmyheck on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 08:20:34 AM PDT

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