VT Dairy Center takes new approach to manure handling

AFP Correspondent

KENTLAND FARM, Va. (June 30, 2015) — Virginia Tech’s new Kentland Dairy will be using a relatively new way of nutrient or manure management when it is completed in the near future.
The main free stall barn at the facility is designed to use a weeping wall waste management system, Dwight Paulette, Kentland Farm manager, noted in a recent interview.
The double-sloped barn will be bedded with sand and features a flush system that carries waste to the center of the barn.
Paulette and Shane Brannock, dairy center manager, pointed out the exterior elements of the system the day of the interview. These include the weeping wall component, two 2 million-gallon manure storage lagoons and a tank for recycled water.
On going construction inside the buildings made tours of them unfeasible.
The bedding and waste that has collected in it will be flushed out on a regular basis throughout the day.
The water used for flushing will carry sand and manure to a concrete apron at the end of the barn where the sand, the heaviest component of the mixture will settle.
The water will wash the manure particles that are lighter than the sand to the weeping wall at the end of this open area.
There the manure will be separated from the water as it goes over the wall to the lagoons.
The Dairy Science Department, in May issue of The Virginia Dairyman reported that there will be “three bays with picket fence sides used for solids separation.
Liquids move into a two stage storage where cleaner water will be recycled for use in the flushing the free stall and special needs barns.”
The special needs barn, located near the main barn and is expected to be used for veterinary treatment, post weaned calves, breeding age heifers and close to dry up cows, the department explained.
The water used in flushing is to be recycled and returned to a storage tank located beside the barn.
When it reaches the tank it will be clean enough for use in flushing the barn but will not be drinking quality, Paulette confirmed when asked.
The sand will be collected after each flushing and dried, readying it for reuse as bedding.
Paulette said the facility has storage capacity that goes beyond that required by the Department of Environmental Quality.
He estimated there is eight months to a year of storage time available in the system.
DEQ requires six months.
Ultimately the organic matter will be used as a fertilizer on the fields.
Virginia’s dairy industry will get its first glimpse of the new facility July 17 during tours at the 2015 Virginia Cattle Field Day and Dairy Expo to be held here at the research farm west of the Blacksburg campus.
Gov. Terry McAullife will join Tech officials in dedicating the facility at noon.
A variety of other tours will show visitors much of the ongoing research happening here.
A free BBQ lunch will be available throughout the day.
The event is jointly sponsored by The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association and the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association.