Alternative Manure Management Program: Manure Separator Project, San Joaquin Valley

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Dennis DaSilva is a second-generation California dairy farmer whose parents began the family’s first dairy farm in 1983 with 150 cows. Today, the DaSilva family owns and operates four dairy and five heifer facilities in the San Joaquin Valley. The family’s success led to a facility becoming one of 18 inaugural recipients of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Alternative Manure Management Program in 2017.

The $375,000 grant has allowed Mr. DaSilva to replace an existing solid separation system with a new, more efficient manure separator and concrete pad. Separated manure is dried and composted on the concrete pad and is then used for bedding and fertilizer for forage crops. The ability for Mr. DaSilva to produce his own compost will allow the facility to use this value-added product to their fields as soil amendments in lieu of using commercial fertilizers.

In addition to electricity savings and the estimated 37,500 MTCO2e of GHG reductions over five years, Mr. DaSilva is also seeing water savings and improvements to water quality. Mr. DaSilva is extremely satisfied with his new solid separation system and was surprised at how much a difference the system is making on the overall operational efficiency of his dairy facility. “The old system was not efficient, running 24 hours a day because it could only handle 300 gallons of flushed manure a minute with manure being pumped at a much faster rate of 2,000 gallons a minute,” Mr. DaSilva stated. “The new system only needs to run 4 hours a day and the electricity savings alone will be enough to pay for the operation and maintenance of the entire system over the course of its life.”

Mr. DaSilva hopes the success of this project will encourage other dairy farmers in the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California to consider similar improvements to their facilities by applying for grant funding. Mr. DaSilva has even considered applying for additional grant funding in the future for the family’s other dairy facilities and is a firm believer that everyone can make a difference in the fight against climate change by making smart investments.