Royal City dairy farmer, Austin Allred, wins prestigious national dairy award for innovative wastewater treatment technology
The worm-based wastewater processing system installed at Royal Dairy – the largest of its kind in the nation – is one more example of technology innovation transforming farming operations through farmer stewardship
Austin Allred of Royal Dairy, center, receives the 2018 Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability Award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Washington state dairy farmers have won four of the seven awards presented.
Austin Allred of Royal Dairy explains how farming is a sustainable practice in this video featured by Dairy Farmers of Washington in 2017.
The benefits of worm castings for growing gardens and organic food are well known to many gardeners and farmers. While they are considered the highest quality plant food, worm castings are too expensive for most organic farmers to use. With the use of the BioFiltro BIDA system such as implemented at Royal Dairy, worm castings may become far more affordable therefore contributing to the growth of affordable organic food. This one dairy can produce 2000 cubic yards every 18 to 24 months from the manure provided by 5000 to 6000 cows.
Austin Allred, the 28 year old owner of Royal Dairy in Royal City, Washington, received the prestigious 2018 Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability Award by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The announcement was made by Dairy Farmers of Washington, a farm-funded organization for dairy farmers, and Darigold, the farmer-owned marketing and processing subsidiary of Northwest Dairy Association.
The large dairy farm was one of three national winners of the sustainability award, joining E-Z Acres in Homer, New York and Reinford Farms in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. The awards were announced at a May 16 ceremony at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill., outside of Chicago.
The award recognized Royal Dairy's commitment to environmental stewardship by becoming the first Washington dairy farm to install the BioFiltro BIDA system which uses worms to convert wastewater from the dairy operation into irrigation-grade water. Royal Dairy's installation is the largest BioFiltro BIDA system of its kind in the nation and has recycled 73 million gallons of wastewater removing on average 97% of suspended solids and 93% of nitrogen.
Already large dairy farms, such as Allred's Royal Dairy with 5000 to 6000 cows, are proving essential to the growing organic farming community. Russ Davis, president of Organix, estimates that one third to one half of all manure produced by dairy farms in Eastern Washington currently is composted, sold as organic fertilizer and used by conventional and organic farmers to grow their crops. 100% of the manure is used as animal bedding or to grow crops either by the dairy farm growing feed crops for the cows, or sold as organic compost. Organix has processed billions of pounds of organic materials since its founding in 2001. It is located in Walla Walla, Washington.
"These family dairy operations are very important for those growing affordable organic food," said Davis. "And that makes them very important to consumers who prefer organic produce. Now with their ability to generate large quantities of worm castings, people will start to see these not just as family dairy farms, but as facilities producing the very highest level of organic fertilizer."
Worm castings, called "plant superfood" by Planet Natural, are a highly sought after but expensive organic fertilizer. A large dairy such as Royal Dairy can produce about 2000 cubic yards every 18 to 24 months, potentially making worm castings more affordable and more widely used to further expand organic farming.
Another very significant benefit of worm-based aerobic filtration is the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Organix is working with BioFiltro to creating a national platform for integrated waste management which in addition to solids handling and water treatment, would include establishing a protocol for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Organix currently represents the BioFiltro BIDA system in the Pacific Northwest and anticipates expanding that relationship to supply dairy farms across the nation with this innovative and promising technology."