Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category

Fate and Transport of Steroid Hormones and Veterinary Antibiotics Derived from Cattle Farms

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 by

ISTC Senior Chemist Wei Zheng received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study the fate and transport of hormones and antibiotics from cattle farms. He recently submitted the following update to the USDA and agreed to share it with The GLRPPR Blog as well. The questions below were posed by the funder. For more information about this project, please contact Wei Zheng.

What is the water problem being addressed by your project? What are the main goals of your project?

Large volumes of manure-contaminated wastewater, wash water, and storm water runoff can be generated at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The reuse of CAFO wastewater on agricultural lands can decrease the amount of wastewater discharge into sensitive water bodies and beneficially utilize the nutrients in the discharge as fertilizers for irrigation applications. However, the wastewater from large confined-animal farms usually retains many contaminants, such as salts, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics, and excess amounts of nutrients, which could pose environmental and public health risks if widely applied for agricultural irrigation. This project focuses on how wastewater reuse from dairy and beef farms contributes to the problem of animal hormones and veterinary antibioticsin the environment.  The primary goal of this project is to investigate the environmental fate and transport of several commonly-occurring steroid hormones, veterinary antibiotics, and their metabolites derived from the agricultural use of CAFO manure and wastewater; minimize their contamination in soil and water; and thereby develop effective management strategies to protect valuable water supplies.

Who are your stakeholders and what has been the impact of your work on your stakeholders? Describe any new technologies that were developed from your work. Are your stakeholders implementing this new technology and if so, how many have implemented the technology? What new knowledge was gained?

This project adds to the body of knowledge concerning the environmental fate and transport of steroid hormones and veterinary antibiotics derived from CAFOs. Successful completion of this project will help the federal and state agencies to formulate effective regulatory programs, help animal farm operators to improve their land application design and operation processes, and help extension staff to develop effective management strategies to minimize the negative environmental effects of hormone and antibiotic contaminants on the surrounding water supplies. Our initial research investigated the transformation kinetics and mechanisms of three steroid hormones (17α-estradiol, 17β-estridiol and estrone) and two antibiotics (ceftiofur and florfenicol) in dairy lagoon and beef recycled wastewater. Our initial results suggest that increasing the residence time of wastewater in lagoon or aerobic settling tanks may be an economical, feasible, and efficient practice to degrade hormone and antibiotic contaminants and thus reduce their loads to the environment. These results will be useful for development of integrated management strategies to mitigate potential adverse impacts associated with the reuse of CAFO wastewater.

September is Organic Harvest Month

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 by

According to the Organic Trade Association web site:
“In 1992, the Organic Trade Association implemented ‘Organic Harvest Month™,’ a widespread promotion of organic food and agriculture through regional and local events. The objective of Organic Harvest Month™ is to highlight organic agriculture and the growing organic products industry. September is also an ideal time for consumers and retailers to celebrate the bounty of the organic harvest.”

Organic agricultural methods are relevant to pollution prevention because they typically involve the use of fewer, non-toxic, more environmentally friendly pesticides, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), composting, the elimination of the use of antiobiotics and synthetic hormones, etc. To paraphrase the National Organic Standards Board definition of “organic” as presented on teh Organic Trade Association web site, “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony…Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water…The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.”

The Organic Trade Association web site provides a quick overview of organic agriculture and production; an overview of organic standards (including U.S., Canadian and other international standards); a section on public policy; several online directories for the use of consumers, organic product manufacturers and the agricultural industry; various fact sheets and links; as well as a newsroom, calendar and bookstore (which includes training materials, market research, and industry guidelines).

Registration Open for Biofuels and Sustainability Conference

Friday, September 5th, 2008 by

Registration is now open for the Biofuels and Sustainability Conference to be held at the University of Illinois campus in Champaign, IL on October 21-22. This event will provide a forum for researchers, policy makers, students, activists and industry leaders to share and gain perspectives regarding the entire life-cycle of the biofuels industry–from feedstock development through fuel consumption. Diverse constituencies will be able to network and develop future directions and strategies regarding this important and complex topic and examine innovations that can improve the sustainability of the biofuels industry.

See the conference website for a detailed description of the event, a list of speakers, and registration information.

Remember that if you have events related to sustainability and pollution prevention that you would like to promote to the region, you can suggest them for the GLRPPR Calendar by sending them to Wayne Duke. Events posted to the GLRPPR Calendar also appear in relevant Sector Resources and are featured on the RSS feeds for those Sector Resources.

P2 Go Bragh: Emerald Isle

Monday, March 17th, 2008 by

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! For those of us of Irish descent (and those who pretend to be Irish, if just for today), I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time considering environmental initiatives in Ireland. Here are a few examples of green activities on the Emerald Isle:

  • Wind Power: According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, “wind energy provides electricity to the equivalent of 40 million European citizens, and wind farms in Ireland supply enough clean green power to support over 146,000 users.” Their web site provides an interactive map of existing wind farms in Ireland (as of April 2007). A recent post on the Green Tech Blog (“Ireland: Where Wind Power is King” by Michael Kanellos) discusses the great potential for further wind farm development on the island, both on and offshore.
  • Cultivate Living and Learning Centre: The Cultivate Centre in Dublin serves as a hub for environmental activities and ideas. Their web site provides a green map of Dublin; environmental workshop listing; a directory of schools, businesses and other organizations in Ireland that are teaching or training and have principles of sustainability rooted in their mission and strategies; information on energy issues and climate change; and a host of other resources. The themes addressed in their educational programs include green building, permaculture and organic gardening, renewable energy, energy conservation, and rethinking urban design and planning.
  • Cleaner Greener Production Programme (CGPP): This program of Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency encourages Irish business and industry to produce goods and services in more environmentally friendly ways. That agency defines “Cleaner Greener Production” as “the application of integrated preventive environmental strategies to processes, products and services to increase overall efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment, for example: (1) Production processes: conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw materials and reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes (2) Products: reducing negative impacts along the life cycle of a product, from raw materials extraction to its ultimate disposal (3) Services: encouraging and supporting the development of higher environmental performance in the service sector, by incorporating environmental concerns into designing and delivering services.”

CGPP logo

P2 Go Bragh: A Different Shade of Green Beer

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 by

The first installment in this series concerns something other than Irish heritage that, for better or worse, has become inextricably linked to the celebration of the holiday in the U.S.: beer. Although this alcoholic beverage is sometimes dyed green for the sake of St. Patrick’s Day parties, the following resources relate to beer and brewing practices that are green in the sense of their environmental impacts.

As is the trend with most organic foods and beverages, organic beer is becoming more and more widely available as even big box retailers climb aboard the “green products are good for public relations, profits and the environment” train. Co-op America offers an overview of organic beer and wine as well as the rationale for choosing locally produced beers whenever possible (to reduce negative effects of long distance shipping, among other reasons). You can also search their National Green Pages under “Wine/Beer” for examples of breweries that produce organic beer. There is also a North American Organic Brewers Festival, scheduled this year for June 27-29 in Portland, Oregon. The festival web site lists the participating breweries and the beers they’re presenting.

For those of you, like my husband, who enjoy brewing your own beer at home, you might find the Seven Bridges Cooperative an interesting resource. Based in California, Seven Bridges provides certified organic ingredients for home brewing, such as organically grown hops and grains.

Interestingly, organic beer became the topic of controversy last year, as the USDA added to the list of non-organic ingredients that may compose 5% of a product by weight and still allow that product to bear the label “organic.” Hops were on the list, and while critical to the production of beer, they do make up less than 5% of the finished product by weight. The Organic Consumers Association was outraged by what it termed the “Budweiser Exception” that could allow big brewing companies to mass produce “organic” beers without using organically grown hops; the controversy was covered by MSNBC. Anheuser-Busch has since switched to using 100% organic hops. See the USDA’s web site for more information on organic food standards and labels.

Turning to waste reduction and efficiency in the brewing process, regardless of the use of organic ingredients, the March/April 2007 edition of In Business magazine featured a profile of Mad River Brewing Company in Blue Lake, California, which recycles or reuses 98% of its residuals, with a goal toward generating zero waste. The April 2007 edition of eco-structure Magazine included a look at the sustainable practices of New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. Among other things, the company purchases wind energy to power 100% of its brewery’s operations, the packaging hall was designed with energy efficiency in mind, and the brewhouse features a closed-loop heating system. For more information about New Belgium’s sustainability initiatives, see their web site.

For an example of sustainable initiatives at a brewery within the Great Lakes region, check out Michigan DEQ’s case study on the Leopold Bros. of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Goose Island Brewery in Chicago, Illinois is also a founding member of the Chicago Waste to Profit Network. An article from the October 2000 edition of Conscious Choice discusses several organic beers, including Goose Island’s organic beer production and partnering with Panorama Brewing Company to produce Wolaver’s Organic Ales regionally. Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the first brewery in that state and the first business in Milwaukee to receive the Travel Green Wisconsin certification from the state’s Department of Tourism. Check out the brewery’s web site detailing what they’ve done to reduce their environmental and social impact and earn this recognition.

For more resources related to P2 for breweries, check out the GLRPPR Food Processing Sector Resource. I’ll be adding a “Beverage Manufacturing” subcategory in the near future to make finding resources related to brewing and other beverage production within this Sector Resource easier.

Energy-related Resources for Food Processors

Thursday, October 18th, 2007 by

In keeping with our Energy Awareness Month theme, here are a few resources worth checking out related to energy and the food processing industry:

  • Northwest Food Processors Association Energy Portal: Compiled by the Food Industry Resource Efficiency team (FIRE), a partnership between the Northwest Food Processors Association (NWFPA) and the California League of Food Processors (CLFP) in collaboration with a number of public and private sector partners. Sections include: Established Technology; Opportunity Assessment; Efficiency Practices; Emerging Technologies; Financing/Incentives; Resources/Assistance; and a Training Calendar.
  • Energy Usage in the Food Industry: This 86-page report, available from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), reviews energy use and trends in the food industry, revealing energy intensive industries and processes that have the most incentive to reduce energy costs by implementing energy efficient processing methods.
  • ENERGY STAR Food Processing Focus: Provides industry-specific energy management tools and resources. EPA began the food processing focus in 2006 and participation is open to all food processors with plants in the U.S.
  • Energy Efficiency Opportunities in the Canadian Brewing Industry: This report from Natural Resources Canada outlines opportunities specific to the brewing industry, methods for their implementation, and a rationale for sound management of energy and utilities within the larger management of breweries.
  • The Visible Cost of Air: A Worksheet to Assist in Identifying Compressed Air Saving Opportunities: This WMRC fact sheet provides general, practical rule-of-thumb applications and recommendations for reducing waste associated with compressed air usage.
  • Heat Recovery From Milk Cooling Systems: Heat recovery from milk by water-cooled condensing mechanisms is effective and provides a reliable source of heat for preheating water on dairy farms. This Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs fact sheet, written by R.G. Winfield, describes the process of heat recovery from milk cooling systems.
  • Cutting Energy Waste in Large Refrigeration Systems: This Energy Center of Wisconsin fact sheet discusses some common performance problems with large refrigeration systems and suggests simple solutions.
  • Focus on Energy: Food/Dairy: Includes links to publications available in their Industrial Info Library, an opportunity to share your energy efficiency ideas related to this sector with Focus on Energy, and contact information. A “Dairy Processing Energy Best Practice Guidebook” will be available soon.
  • Food Service Technology Center: This extensive web site provides information on commercial kitchen equipment performance, including ventilation, building energy efficiency, lighting, glazing, and HVAC.