The Importance of Markets for Co-products and Innovations for Farms of All Sizes (Innovative Technologies for Managing Manure – Part 1)

Why Are Co-Products Important in Manure Treatment Technologies? Do These Technologies Work for Large and Small Farms?

Livestock and poultry operations face considerable logistical and financial challenges to manage over a billion tons of nutrient-laden manure generated in the U.S. each year. This manure has the potential to impact the environment adversely if it is not managed responsibly, but both producers and the environment can benefit from innovative technologies that alleviate manure management challenges.  Technologies that yield new revenues or offer flexibility in managing manure are of particular interest.  This panel will discuss two factors vital to the long-term success of waste-to-worth technologies:

  1. The importance of markets for co-products from innovative technologies
  2. The importance of developing waste-to-worth innovations for farms of all sizes

The Importance of Markets

Innovative technologies can make it possible for producers to export manure nutrients off-site more readily, which can benefit both their bottom line and the environment. This is particularly true for larger livestock farms, many of which lack sufficient land to be able to apply all their manure at agronomic rates. Some manure-to-energy and nutrient recovery technologies are already in place at animal agriculture operations. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that producers can have difficulty finding markets for the outputs of these systems. This panel will address the viewpoint that, in addition to approaching innovation with the question, “Technically speaking, what commodities can be derived from manure?” it is also important to ask, “For what types of co-products and services does a market exist, and how can optimized manure treatment systems meet this demand?”

The Importance of Innovations for Farms of All Sizes

More than half of all U.S. livestock (including poultry) animals are held by farms smaller than 1,000 beef cattle or equivalent in size. Although these farms may have adequate land for applying manure nutrients at agronomic rates, storage constraints and labor shortages may impact the operation’s ability to apply manure at agronomically optimal times. These constraints can sometimes result in harmful losses of manure nutrients into the environment.

Smaller farms can benefit from innovative technologies that are less capital intensive and improve the logistics of manure storage, transport, and application. For smaller operations, one way to approach innovation is by asking the question “What innovations add value for producers at smaller operations by providing a greater degree of manure management flexibility?”

What will the audience take away from this presentation?

In this panel, the moderators will provide a brief overview of the need for innovative manure management systems. Moderators will then pose a series of questions to panelists. First, we will hear “real world” experiences with innovative manure management technologies from technology developers and users. Second, we will hear about the specific operational and financial challenges livestock producers face and what types of technologies could respond to these challenges. Finally, we hope to identify scenarios in which innovative manure management technologies could have the greatest likelihood of success.


  1. Josh Frye, Frye Poultry, Wardensville, WV.  Josh Frye runs a 700,000 plus broiler operation.  His company owns a fixed bed gasifier that can convert poultry litter into energy at the rate of 5 million btu per hour, per 1,000 lbs of litter.
  2. Matt Freund, Cowpots, East Canaan, CT. Matt Freund of Freund’s Family Farm in Connecticut runs a 275 cow dairy. Mr. Freund’s dairy produces biogas with an anaerobic digester and uses a process that Mr. Freund developed to manufacture biodegradable planting pots, CowPotsTM, out of separated manure fibers.
  3. Dr. Mark Johnson, EPA Corvallis Lab, Corvallis, OR.  Mark Johnson is a Research Soil Scientist with EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) Corvallis Lab. Dr. Johnson is researching custom biochars generated from a variety of biomasses.
  4. Dr. Craig Frear, Washington State University, Puyallup, WA.  Craig Frear is an Associate Professor at Washington State University. Dr. Frear has extensive experience with anaerobic digestion and advanced nutrient recovery systems. Dr. Frear has developed and implemented these systems on dairies and other animal operations with a focus on optimizing total system performance and long-term financial sustainability.
  5. Dr. Ariel Szogi, USDA/ARS Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research Center, Florence, SC.  Ariel Szogi is a Research Scientist with USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS). Dr. Szogi has developed a process called Quick Wash for extraction and recovery of phosphorus from poultry litter and animal manure solids.
  6. Kraig Westerbeek, Vice President of Environment, Engineering, and Support Services, Murphy-Brown LLC (livestock subsidiary of Smithfield Foods).  In this capacity he is heavily involved in the evaluation of current and new technologies for manure management. He is from Warsaw, NC, and has been employed by Murphy-Brown for 22 years, primarily in the environmental area.


  1. Joseph Ziobro, Office of Wastewater Management, U.S. EPA (ORISE fellow). Joseph Ziobro is an O.R.I.S.E. Research Participant at U.S. EPA, Office of Wastewater Management, Rural Branch. Mr. Ziobro supports the National Permit Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program for concentrated animal feeding operations.
  2. Nina Bonnelycke, Office of Wastewater Management, U.S. EPA. Nina Bonnelycke is a Policy Analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Wastewater Management, Rural Branch.  Ms. Bonnelycke has extensive experience in cost/benefit analysis of environmental programs.

Image of moderator, Joseph ZiobroJoseph Ziobro

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Joseph is a Research Participant at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) research program at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Office of Wastewater Management. He supports the implementation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program for concentrated animal feeding operations. Joseph also supports collaborative initiatives with the animal agriculture industry that protect and restore water quality. In 2013, Joseph earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), with a focus on coupled human and natural systems.

Image of moderator, Nina BonnelyckeNina Bonnelycke

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Ms. Bonnelycke is a Policy Analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Wastewater Management, Rural Branch.  She has served EPA for close to 25 years and has extensive experience in cost/benefit analysis of environmental programs.  Ms. Bonnelycke has supported EPA’s efforts on water quality issues connected to animal agriculture since 2001.  She has worked in a variety of other program areas including solid and hazardous waste, stratospheric ozone protection, and climate change.  Ms. Bonnelycke has a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.

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