West Virginia Farmer Puts Energy Programs To Work
Josh Frye of Frye Poultry is the third generation farming his family’s land in the Cacapon Watershed in Wardensville, WV. Like most poultry owners, he grappled with the rising cost of heating with propane. Research led Frye to an Illinois-based company, Coaltec Energy, which produced gasifiers for agricultural use. Frye applied for grants and low-interest loans from NRCS and other government agencies. He was awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install the necessary technology.
Poultry litter is used as fuel to heat the poultry houses and reduce fuel costs for the farmer. The operation also has a positive impact on the bird growth and health. The humidity level in the house is lower—over 20% less, and the bird’s growth was as much as 7% higher. The use of the gasifier reduces the workload to maintain the house and the ability to bake the house between flocks can decrease the time between flocks, increasing the opportunity for the farmer to generate revenues.
A variety of unexpected benefits were discovered. The byproduct of the gasifier, biochar, contains high levels of carbon and is an effective organic fertilizer. One of Josh’s primary focuses is the benefits of using biochar to replace organics in depleted soils to improve productivity.
The first-ever Clean Energy Award was awarded to Frye in 2009 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for his efforts in his poultry litter gasification project. His interest in energy issues recently led him to be one of the first agricultural producers in the nation to have a Farm Energy Audit completed by EnSave with funding through EQIP.
Mr. Frye has hosted many agricultural researchers and members of Congress at his farm to promote what he believes can be a great opportunity for farmers in our region. The research at this facility will help make the system more affordable for other farmers and provide a solution for excess manure in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and reducing dependence on foreign oil. Frye hopes to preserve this property for future agricultural use by enrolling in the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) to put a conservation easement in place.
For more information on the gasification of broiler manure, go to http://www.coaltecenergy.com/poultrylitterproject.html.