Gardeners, here’s a topic we must look squarely in the eye and discuss. I speak of the Associated Press story on investors in Greeley, Colorado, planning to turn manure into clean, refreshing energy.
I have no beef with green energy. Finding new ways to fuel our lives is a responsible thing to do, and the amount of dung produced near Greeley is impressive. According to the JBS Five Rivers feeding company website, their cattle yards can house around 90,000 head in that location, each dropping approximately 2,700 pounds of waste per year, or 121,500 tons per herd annually. That is one big pile of poo.
This much manure releases methane in copious amounts, perfuming the air above the lot and, when storms bear down on us from the north, surrounding cities as well (prevalent winds). These businessmen want to harness that fragrant treasure to power…a cheese factory.
They want to power other businesses in a new clean-energy park too. But LePrino has a factory in the area and is scheduled to open a new, larger facility less than 10 miles from the cattle yards. As their website proclaims, they are a world leader in premium quality cheese. It would be nice if they, or another company, could use the odorous off-gas of manure to produce and cut their cheese, packaging it for sale.
Mooving to clean energy is not without risks, and a worried group of farmers are lamenting the economic disaster this will cause, predicting a shortage of dung will drive up the demand for – and cost – of fertilizer. The last thing northern Colorado needs is a media spotlight on the potential poo panic; we’re just recovering from a different incident that involved hot air.
For now, gardeners shouldn’t worry or hoard their dung; this could result in a run on manure that could stampede out of control.