By Isabel Ramirez
West Hills College Lemoore Ag Leadership class had the honor of visiting with Garth Irons on a dairy in Kings County where there is a pilot project with new and exciting research to help farmers and the environment with advanced wastewater solutions. Bennett Environmental has come up with a system that helps solves problems with greenhouse gases (GHG) while promoting sustainable groundwater management.
Bennett Environmental was introduced to Aquanos in 2017 in Israel on a trip. Aquanos was a winner of an Israeli national program to discover economic solutions for dairy industries wastewater treatment needs. Founded in 2011, Aquanos has established 25 systems in Israel because they faced water challenges just as severe as California. With a combination of wastewater treatment, reuse and desalination, Israel has moved towards effectively solving their water challenges and has led Governor Jerry Brown to sign a memorandum of understanding for research and development cooperation in water conservation and other areas.
Advanced wastewater solutions for dairies helps control GHG and creates renewable energy. A reduction of nitrogen helps remediate and condition groundwater for facilitating salt removal. These environmental benefits can help maximize land use, economic benefits, renewable energy, and other new revenues as well as crop diversification. Reducing production cost and bettering overall efficiency. All this can assist in reducing regulatory costs by using above ground tanks that digest the organic loads. Biogas is generated and captured in a high rate digester with low overall retention time and can handle and dilute a flushed waste stream. The upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor can be applied alone or with an optional aerobic digestion phase. This optional second phase includes an algae-based nitrogen removal system and an moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR). The MBBR further treats the water and assimilates nitrogen into algae – capable of up to 95% nitrogen reduction as well as dramatic reduction in TSS and BOD. This usage of algae as the oxygen source results in more than 90% reduction in plant aeration energy requirements (citation needed – will bring brochure).
And if that wasn’t enough to impress water conservationists and farmers, dairies that try this system benefit even more because they could be paid per cow for their organic waste. This was an exciting field trip and our great mentors were super excited to share their work with us and helped make this an amazing experience.