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  • We'd like to say on behalf of Jerry and myself welcome to Jer-Lindy Farms.

  • We, along with our children,

  • Tammy and her husband Brian and a little daughter Riley who live in Iowa,

  • our second daughter Emily and her husband Jason

  • living in Woodbury, and our a daughter Alise living in

  • St. Paul, and Maggie who is

  • part of the dairy operation currently

  • and a student at high school would like to say welcome to our

  • dairy, we're happy to have you

  • and hope that you will feel that your day was well spent and enjoy learning

  • about

  • are anaerobic digester and some of the other aspects of our dairy.

  • Welcome to Jer-Lindy farms, we're happy to have you. We're happy to

  • tell you about our operation and hope that

  • you'll enjoy seeing what we have

  • and that maybe be able to learn part of the things that we have learned

  • over the past several months.

  • I started farming July of 1979 with a

  • FmHA beginning farmers lawn on a rented farm site,

  • married Linda in November of 79.

  • The farm site had been vacant for three or four years

  • and needed a lot of work.

  • Fifteen years later we bought an additional forty acres

  • that had been apart of this farm at one time and then in

  • August of 2002 we bought another 150 acres

  • that have been a part of the farm as well. We

  • expanded our dairy from 50 cows that we had been at

  • in 2002 by building freestyle barn

  • and at that point then we also both came back to be full-time farmers

  • and then now through the

  • last five years, six years I guess, we've

  • grown into 160 cows.

  • We have capacity to grow up further to about 180 to 200.

  • Plan beyond that may include

  • a cheese plant. As a family whose

  • really interested in agriculture and has always felt so that it was a real

  • privilege to be able to produce food for people,

  • we have tried to look at other opportunities that

  • as our four daughters were growing up might be able to

  • teach them some valuable lessons about responsibility and about producing the

  • food.

  • In order to do that we've incorporated a few other

  • entity in our dairy and one of them has been our apple orchard.

  • We began our apple orchard in the early 1990's

  • and have expanded that some again

  • and we currently have about 50 trees.

  • Another entity that we began back in

  • I'm 1997 is are low-lying heard

  • and we've been working on it for quite some time now and it originated

  • from

  • a herd of Angus that were part of a research project

  • in Australia. We currently have sold some

  • beaf and we're excited to continue to

  • move forward with that. I was first

  • introduced to it in either '99 or 2000 and I don't remember

  • which when I was serving on the Stearns County Dairy Advisory Committee and the

  • Committee was invited to

  • go to Dennis Haubenschild's and

  • I went along and began to have an education

  • and digestion, so

  • over the years I would read articles about it

  • and so it became something of a somewhat familiar with,

  • but then of course the interest

  • grew 2004 when Bob Lafay called

  • said that the Minnesota project had contacted him

  • that they were working to secure a grant and we're going to need a farm to put

  • a digester on and they're looking for a mid-size farm

  • and wanted to know if I would have some interest in that.

  • Without giving it a lot of thought I said sure, not really thinking that it

  • would

  • ever really happen.

  • The potential benefits that I'd seen coming in, number one was

  • to create an additional revenue stream for our farm;

  • on small farms,and ours included,

  • it's never easy to make it,

  • so anytime you can add a source of revenue

  • certainly something we're always looking for.

  • So, that to me was the number one potential benefit.

  • Certainly environmental benefits and the

  • opportunity to be able to

  • say to consumers and neighbors

  • that you're protecting your environment

  • I see as another huge benefit.

  • It's very exciting to be able to take a product,

  • such as the waste product that our cows produce, manure,

  • and be able to use it in so many different ways

  • that are very good and safe for the environment, as well as,

  • provide us with bedding and

  • apply it to our field in a lot

  • safer manner. Obviously we did have some concerns;

  • one of them was giving up our source of bedding for our dairy, which was

  • sand and our concern was that it may not be quite as comfortable

  • and that we may have some issues regarding somatic cell count and

  • herd health.

  • One of my biggest concerns was would this thing work,

  • it's a part of a manure handling system

  • and so my concern was are we going to be able to get the manure through it, or am

  • I going to have a

  • albatross around my neck and

  • will this be a disaster.

  • Our dairy situation,

  • in order to build a digester needed to have

  • several other pieces put in place in order for the digester

  • to operate properly. We'd always planned on

  • expanding the dairy a small amount, so that

  • it could support a second family. So, that was the

  • reason that our barn has a 36-foot addition and allows for another 40 cows

  • than what we had. Then we also needed

  • a lagoon storage system to handle the

  • the waste from the digester, the liquid portion after its been separated.

  • Those were all part of the project, which actually began on September 5th

  • of 2007. To get the manure into the digester first, which starts on the

  • free stall barn floor and we scrape

  • with a skid loader and a tire scraper twice a day

  • into a gutter at the end of each isle.

  • In the barn there's 4 isles and at the end of each one is a

  • connected gutter with covers on, which we'd just remove the cover when its

  • cleaning time, scrape the manure into there and then it

  • ends up in a mixing reception pit. In order to make this digester work,

  • we need to lower the solids content of the manure from the 12 to 14 percent

  • that it comes out of the cow at

  • down to 6 to 8 percent.

  • After the manure comes out of the digester and we separate the solids out

  • then we have the remaining liquid, which we

  • run back into the gutter, which flushes the gutter and then

  • also works to dilute the manure, also pre-warms the manure

  • and inoculates it with bacteria that is coming out of the digester, so we're

  • performing several different tasks there.

  • The manures pumped out of the reception mixing

  • pit 24 hours a day

  • very slowly, so that were feeding the digester

  • around the clock that is similar to the way you'd feed a cow because the

  • bacteria in there

  • are sensitive and they will perform the best

  • if they are fed consistently throughout the day. So, we try to

  • time that pump so that it pumps

  • only the amount of manure that it needs to in order for us to get

  • the manure in at the next milking time.

  • Manure then is pumped in the bottom

  • and each time some is pumped in then some must come out and that comes out

  • the top

  • and falls to another pit, which is on the north side of the barn as

  • partially an exterior pit the manure coming into that

  • pit is still actively making some gas,

  • so we need to make sure for safety reasons that that pit

  • is ventilated well and it's from that pit then that we pump

  • twice a day out into separator and separate the solids out, which we

  • will use for bedding.

  • The liquid portion again we're using to dilute with,

  • but the excess then gravity flows out to

  • earthen base lagoon.

  • We are using deep bedded solids,

  • so the solids are 12 to 18 inches deep

  • in the stalls. It provides a very comfortable surface

  • for the cows probably more comfortable than

  • sand itself in that it's less abrasive

  • and as far as the quality of milk

  • and health issues at this point

  • we feel that it's looking very positive.

  • Gases,

  • pulled off the top of the silo, comes down and is

  • pulled into the engine where it is burned off

  • and as the engine is running it's powering a 37 killawatt

  • generator. Power then from the generator is used first in the

  • digester plant to power all the pumps

  • and lights; excess energy then is sold directly

  • to the grid through our utilities turns electric.

  • In order to operate and maintain this digester

  • at this point is taking me about 20 minutes a day

  • on average, except for that probably one day a month

  • it will take an additional two to three hours