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#Fridaysonthefarm: Fourth-Generation Dairy Family Powers the Future

#Fridaysonthefarm: Fourth-Generation Dairy Family Powers the Future HeaderStory by Jonathan Groveman, NRCS California; photos by Jonathan Groveman, NRCS California, Scott Brothers Dairy and Ag Waste Solutions

Each Friday, meet farmers, producers and landowners through our #Fridaysonthefarm stories. Visit local farms, ranches, forests and resource areas where NRCS and partners help people help the land.  CLICK HERE to view all #Fridaysonthefarmstories.

This Friday, visit the Scott Brothers Dairy in San Jacinto, California, where a fourth-generation farm family makes history with a state-of-the-art manure gasification system.

#Fridaysonthefarm: Fourth-Generation Dairy Family Powers the Future Map


A Family Tradition

In California's San Jacinto region, Bruce, Brad and father Stan Scott manage the family farm -- a picturesque 900 acres speckled with over 1,000 cattle. 

For four generations, the Scott family has owned and operated the Scott Brothers Dairy in Southern California, where milk moves daily from the farm to manufacturing to the customer.

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Bruce and Brad Scott currently manage the farm alongside their father Stan, continuing the Scott family tradition for the fourth generation. Photo courtesy Scott Brothers farm.

Over the years, the Scott Brothers Dairy has become a leader in conservation in agriculture. They were one of the first  farming operations in the area to implement municipal waste water for conservation purposes, and they installed solar energy sources across the property. Always committed to herd health, the family implements cover crops through a rotational harvesting routine for forage and soil health. 

And in 2016, at a White House ceremony, the Environmental Protection Agency presented the Scott Brothers Dairy and partner Steve McCorkle of Ag Waste Solutions with a prestigious Nutrient Recycling Challenge Award for installing a state-of-the-art manure gasification system on the dairy site. 

Field of Dreams Project

“I basically refer to this as my field of dreams project,” laughed Bruce Scott when he first met with NRCS California District Conservationist Robert Hewitt.

The Scott family in 2012 proposed to build a state-of-the-art manure gasification system - based on the Fischer–Tropsch  process from early 20th century Germany - and to house it in a stand-alone barn. The system would have the capacity to process the manure from their entire herd.

The Fischer–Tropsch technology transforms raw cow manure into synthetic gas, heat, power, biofuel, fertilizer and biochar – and the possibility for potable water as an end product as well.

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While not necessarily a new invention, the Scott Brothers’ vision was a working system to: power primary and secondary equipment on the farm; produce sellable byproducts like biochar; and potentially have a potable water byproduct for farm use. They expected the unit would be the first of its kind in California and the nation as well as the first manure gasification system to ever obtain a full-operating permit from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

“This technology can help the dairy industry remain sustainable throughout regulations and environmental problems facing production agriculture,” says Bruce.

Innovation through Partnership

NRCS helped turn the family's dreams into reality through the agency's Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) - a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to plan and implement conservation practices that improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related natural resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. For this project, the agency developed a draft NRCS conservation practice titled 735 for Gasification.

This technology and manure management technique was new for NRCS, but the agency saw the potential impact it could have for both water and air quality conservation in Southern California.

“Even though Bruce had to overcome a large number of hurdles to make his dream a reality, he persisted and I admire him for that,” says Hewitt. “Because we did not have an exact fit within our conservation practice standards, I helped coordinate both an interim draft standard and address other conservation issues that came up, to help make this project successful for our client.”

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NRCS California employees tour the AWS project site on the Scott Brothers Dairy farms. Photo courtesy Ag Waste Solutions.

“Having been one of the first ever to attempt a project like this, I have to thank our partner NRCS for being willing to think outside the box,” says Bruce. “For this support, and much more, I’m proud to call the NRCS team part of my family.”

Join the Conversation

Follow the #Fridaysonthefarm and other voluntary conservation stories on @USDA_NRCS Twitter and @USDA FacebookView the interactive ESRI storymap of this #Fridaysonthefarm feature.