New Bark Mulch Treatment System

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By Sam Butcher

When you visit the farm on farm day, you might notice what appears to be a large mound of bark mulch in the corner of a field.  This is Historic O’Neil Farm’s new Bark Mulch Treatment System for treating the liquid waste associated with producing milk. With the help of two grants from the MA Department of Agricultural Resources and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, we recently completed the construction of this milk-house waste treatment system – one of only a few in the state.

In the process of milking cows lots of water is used to make sure the pipes and tubes associated with the milking operation remain clean. This water contains low concentrations of “raw milk” as well as some detergents used to clean those lines. The raw milk is difficult to treat and often fouls traditional septic systems. However, this “milk house waste” cannot be simply discharged, as it is technically waste stream, like liquids from a septic tank or industrial waste from a manufacturing process. As a result the MA Department of Environmental Protection and the MA Department of Agricultural Resources agreed to allow a few dairy farms to construct these alternative systems for treating milk house waste.

In the Bark Mulch Treatment System the liquid waste is pumped underground from the milking barn to the bark mound where it is sprayed onto the bark mulch through pipes buried within the mound. The liquid, bark, and naturally occurring bacteria work together to compost the waste; it’s an ingenious natural composting mound.

We are optimistic this Bark Mulch Treatment System will significantly improve how milk waste is treated at he farm. We will constantly monitoring the new system to ensure it operates efficiently and are please to have been chosen for this special agricultural grant.

Farm Day
Saturday, September 17th, 2011
Historic O’Neil Farm
146 Winter Street
Duxbury MA 02332 

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