Dairyman Cuts Diesel Emissions 92%

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 VandenheuvelGeneral 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!”

Negative Outlook for California Dairies

Lower prices = troubling news for California’s Dairies

Rob Vandenhueval, manager of the Milk Producers Council, an organization of California dairy farmers, which advocates on federal, state and local issues on behalf of its members, noted that dairy prices are very low in the international markets—spelling problems in the near future for California dairies.

“We are looking at a future that includes significantly lower milk prices than we have been experiencing for much of 2014, and a large driver of that…the international market for dairy is down significantly from the highs of 6-9 months ago. In the months looking out into the future, we’re going to see milk prices in California, probably $17, $16, $15 spreads per hundredweight.

Vandenheuvel noted that dairymen and women can find some relief from the lower pricies: “Take look at this margin protection program that just came out of the 2014 Farm Bill, and it provides an opportunity to at least give yourself some safety net protection against falling milk prices. It’s going to cost you a premium as a dairy farmer, and you’ll have to sign up by December 5th, but at least it gives you some opportunity to get some relief directly from the government when these prices fall. Last time around, we only had the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC ) program which was just not responsive to large Western-style dairies. So that’s the best tool you’ve got right now to fight volatility in the industry.”

Sign up today at your local County Farm Services Agency.