Farmers helping to limit algae in Great Lakes

Jul 2, 2016
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

Summers along the Great Lakes include fishing, boating -- and dangerous algae blooms that can shut down beaches. These blooms are caused by excess phosphorous, a lot of which comes from farms. Now some of the region's farmers are testing agricultural practices that could reduce harmful runoff.

Duane Stateler and his son Anthony run Stateler Family Farms, one of a handful of demonstrations farms across the country. Over the next five years, three farms in Northwest Ohio will test different practices to find out what reduces phosphorus runoff.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Ben Peyton lives on Fuller Road in Adams. His home is surrounded on both sides by wide green corn fields. Those corn fields are owned by a dairy farmer, Mike Hill. He runs Hillcrest farms. Peyton points across the road from this driveway.

“The manure pit will be located just on the eastern side of that,” Peyton said.

Peyton and his neighbors want Hill to pick another site. The proposed pit will sit above the Tug Hill aquifer.

Livestock & Poultry Environmental Learning Center / Flickr

One dairy cow produces close to eight tons of manure a year. On big farms, that poses a serious, and regulated, waste disposal problem. In the spring and summer, farmers can spread manure on their fields before planting. But in the winter, all that manure has to be stored somewhere.

Milk Street Dairy in Jefferson County has more than 1,000 dairy cows. The owners are constructing a seven-million gallon lagoon to hold liquid manure. The site is on Ridge Road in the town of Rutland. It overlooks the Black River, and Watertown city officials aren’t happy.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Manure lagoons help farmers manage their manure, but one planned lagoon in Tompkins County caused a neighbor to look for a way to fight it.

Heather Gowe is not sure where exactly the proposed manure storage lagoon will be built. It will be somewhere in a small stand of trees, up a hill from the intersection where she lives.
Beck Farms is a dairy producer who will build the lagoon. It has about 2,000 cows in Freeville in Tompkins County. It wants to store 3.2 million gallons of manure on this hill, and build a pipeline to transport the manure.

publicenergy / Flickr

New York State is home to more than 600,000 dairy cows, which generate millions of pounds of manure.

Now, a new energy project in rural Wyoming County aims to be a model for using cow waste and by-products from food processing to generate electricity.