Kofkoff Egg Farm, a frequent target of activists for factory farming issues, is taking a step to clean up at least one element of its operations: the massive amounts of poop created by 5 million chickens. The farm, along with Clearview Power, has announced plans to build a plant that will generate electricity from biomass made up of poultry poop and wood wastes. It turns out that the decision is primarily economic: chicken droppings don't have the market value they once did (seriously):
The problem for Kofkoff starts with the state's continuing shift away from agriculture.Large-scale animal agriculture operations have an equally massive environmental footprint, so such a plan provides a way to deal with one of the messier parts of Kofkoff's effect, and to create a cleaner source of energy for many in Connecticut, as the proposed plant will power up to 29,000 homes. While we like the idea of converting wastes to power, there's always that nagging feeling that such operations will also give these kinds of unsustainable operations some green cover for other much less desirable activities. We hope the power plant succeeds; we also hope activists keep pressing this giant agribusiness for even more genuinely green alternatives to business as usual. ::Hartford Courant via Alotta Errata
The closure of farms - and their replacement with housing subdivisions - reduces the number of fields where Kofkoff can spread its manure. Dairy farms traditionally take chicken manure to fertilize fields for hay and corn.
At the same time, new federal regulations are placing limits on the amount of manure a farm can spread. The rules are meant to keep excess nutrients from ending up in lakes, rivers and bays. There, they can cause high amounts of algae growth, choking water habitats.
To comply with these regulations, dairy farms have to cut back on the amount of chicken waste they use, said Joseph Wettemann, a senior sanitary engineer for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
So with fewer places to put chicken manure, Kofkoff has to find new ways to dispose of its constant stream of waste.
"This manure-to-energy plant is our best shot right now," Wettemann said.