Kings County Dairyman Cuts Diesel Emissions 92% With Electric Mixer
By Laurie Greene, Editor
On his dairy in the Kings County town of Hanford, Philip Verway reduced his diesel consumption a remarkable 92% from 7,000 to 500 gallons in a given three-week period. His innovative secret to cutting diesel emissions is converting a diesel-powered commodity mixing machine to an electric mixer.
Kevin Abernathy, director of environmental services for the Milk Producers Council, said, “Rob Vandenheuvel, General Manager for Milk Producers Council, Philip and I helped him get a grant from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, a state-appointed board which aims to minimize diesel exhaust output. We put together a proposal, submitted it, and their governing board actually approved the grant. What began as a concept on paper led to the reality of the processes being implemented on-farm. We had it up and running in about three months. Most importantly, the end results are not only meeting, but exceeding our expectations,” said Abernathy.
The entire operation dramatically reduces total nitrogen oxides (NOX gases), pollutants in the San Joaquin Valley, “Our initial expectation based on the modeling was 22 tons of NOX emissions.” The post-project NOX rates were about two tons—a major reduction.
Abernathy said Verway worked with contractors Duport and Supreme to engineer the electrification of the vertical mixers and built some fail-safe components into the system. Impressed, Abernathy said, “Based on what I have seen, they have done a remarkable job, particularly on the multiple fail-safes. Hats off to Duport and Supreme for coming up with technology that works day-in and day-out, 365 days of the year.”
Abernathy also admired the ingenuity in the California dairy industry, “They continue to come up with some of the most extraordinary ideas. It is an absolute blessing to work with them, and they make my job so much fun with projects like this!”
There is a disconnect between consumers and an understanding of where their food originates. Kelly Deming Giacomazzi is the executive coordinator for the Education and Agriculture Together Foundation—better known as the E.A.T. Foundation—a Hanford-based nonprofit that bridges this disconnect by providing educators with hands-on learning tools to teaching their students how food and other agricultural products are produced.
“They teach their students that jeans don’t just come from Old Navy or Walmart,” Giacomazzi said, “and their daily food doesn’t come from the grocery store.”
Giacomazzi said the E.A.T. Foundation offers several workshops for educators, including a 3-day “Intro to Ag” program, during which educators from all over the state are hosted by local farm families. “This is where the hands-on learning takes place. For example, educators learn to drive a tractor, siphon-irrigate, spray for bugs with a Pest Control Advisor (PCA), and visit a dairy. In the past and occasionally now, we visit the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center (VMTRC) and AgVentures! at the Heritage Complex, both of which are in Tulare County, to give teachers a brief overview of what agriculture is doing to provide food and clothes for people in the state and in the nation.”
Giacomazzi also said E.A.T. hosts a two-day workshop on water. “We tour a hydroelectric plant, a dam/reservoir area, and distribution centers,” Giacomazzi said. “We talk about water laws, environmental impacts, and farm efficiency as well.”
The Foundation also offers summer and fall harvest workshops, plus a career workshop. Giacomazzi stated, “Many scholarship funds are available for agriculture majors, yet there aren’t enough students majoring in this field.”
Cal Ag Today recently caught up with Justin Dutra, a crop consultant in pest control for the Hanford branch of Crop Production Services (CPS) to discuss some of the crops he looks after, including, “row crops, dairy crops, cotton, nuts and tree crops.
”The staff and management at CPS are focused on providing their customers with the products and services they need to grow the best crops possible,” said Dutra. “They do this by providing an extensive selection of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides that farmers need to keep their crops pest-free.” Dutra reported the leaffooted bug is causing concern for a few growers in his region.
CPS conducts year-round research and training to order to stay up-to-date on crop protection products and provide their members with accurate information on their use, benefits and limitations. While his region has seen relatively low levels of the leaffooted bug, Dutra noted some other bugs that are worrying growers, such as, “leafhoppers on tomatoes and stink bugs.”
The problem with leafhoppers is they puncture the underside of plant leaves and extract much-needed nutrients. Their saliva can cause spotting or yellowing of the leaves and stunting or distortion of the plant. The bigger concern growers have is leafhoppers can also transmit disease. Commenting on the disease that has been most problematic for farmers, Dutra said, “Curly top used to be just a virus you would see every once in a while; now it can wipe out a field.” Dutra noted when they started realizing leafhoppers were becoming a problem two years ago, and again this year, “We are starting to treat for them, and they are beginning to die down now, but they are still there to be reckoned with.”
While the shortage of water has affected growers up and down the state, Dutra noted, “I’m on the East Side and the West Side, and there are more tomatoes coming in on the East Side because of water restrictions on the West Side.”