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Multiple Programs Adds up to Success in the Chesapeake Bay

West Virginia Success Story

Multiple Programs Adds up to Success in the Chesapeake Bay

Program or Category: Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Reserve Program (CREP).

Overview:
Josh Frye is the third generation farming his family’s land in the Cacapon Watershed in Wardensville, WV. Frye Poultry manages over 260 acres, which includes the operation of three broiler houses with a flock capacity of 93,000 birds. The annual production is approximately 700,000 birds. Currently, approximately 100 head of cattle are kept on this farm and the adjoining property (owned by brother, Joe Frye) during the grazing season. Several NRCS financial assistance programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), and the Conservation Reserve Program (CREP) have been used to improve the land.

Josh grappled with a problem most poultry growers face—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.

Accomplishments:
The poultry litter is used as fuel to heat the poultry houses and significantly 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 could have a significant impact on the operating costs when incorporated in the design of a new facility. The reduced work load and the ability to bake the house between flocks can decrease the time between flocks, increasing the opportunity for the farmer to generate revenues. Initially, the benefits were thought to be confined to cold weather and winter months. However, the ability to utilize the gasifier to produce cool air through a chiller has huge potential.

A variety of unexpected benefits were discovered. The ash as a fertilizer supplement has substantial value. The byproduct of the gasifier, biochar, contains high levels of carbon and is a very effective organic fertilizer. One of Josh’s primary focuses is the benefits of using biochar to replace organics in depleted soils to improve productivity. Researchers are investigating using biochar to capture carbon in soil to lessen global emissions and as a way to remediate coal fields and Superfund sites, since the material readily absorbs toxic metals. Mr. Frye is dedicated to continuing research on the possibilities of the biochar material. It may also be beneficial as a feed supplement to replace dicalcium phosphate.

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.

The farm well pumping system was updated and 760 feet of pipeline was installed to supply an off-stream watering system for the cattle. These improvements compliment the prescribed grazing system that had been put in place approximately six years ago when Mr. Frye worked with tenants who lease the farm and practice sound grassland management. The off-stream watering system excludes cattle from the stream, improves water quality, reduces streambank erosion and improves and restores wildlife habitat. Frye Poultry has installed a Waste Storage Facility and follows an approved Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP).

A seven-acre riparian forest buffer is in the Conservation Reserve Program (CREP). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) built over 3,300 feet of fence to exclude cattle from the protected area. Many conservation partners are interested in this riparian project, because of native trout populations in the headwaters of Slate Rock Run. Trout Unlimited (TU) uses the site to monitor water temperatures and improve stream habitat. Hardy County students planted 160 trees (in addition to the 720 that were planted by a private consultant) as a way to learn about conservation.

Mr. 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.

Program Benefits to Landowner:
Using poultry litter as fuel reduces fuel costs for the farmer. The operation also has a positive impact on the bird growth and health. The ash as a fertilizer supplement has substantial value. The use of the gasifier reduces the work load to maintain the house.

Program Benefits to Community:
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. It is hoped that 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.

Poultry farm production in eastern West Virginia has tripled in the past 20 years. Enormous amounts of manure is produced annually—more manure than can be safely applied to nearby fields. This excess animal waste has the potential to degrade water quality, especially in the Chesapeake Bay. Finding other uses for poultry litter helps reduce excess nutrients in the area, protect water quality, and bolster the economic strength of West Virginia poultry industry.


Christi Hicks, Acting District Conservationist
304-530-2825, Extension 105
Christi.Hicks@wv.usda.gov

Moorefield Service Center
223 North Main Street
Moorefield, WV 26836
Phone: (304) 530-2825, Fax: (304) 530-2086

Photo of pasture Josh Frye is the third generation farming his family’s land in the Cacapon Watershed in Wardensville, WV.
photo of Josh and gasifier Josh Frye was awarded the first Clean Energy Award in 2009 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for his efforts in his poultry litter gasification project.
Photo of seedlings Hardy County students planted 160 trees (in addition to the 720 that were planted by a private consultant) as a way to learn about conservation.
photo of waste storage facility Frye Poultry has installed a Waste Storage Facility and follows an approved Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP).