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Minnesota Turkey Farm Uses a Gasification System to Produce Heat
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November 29, 2013

Minnesota Turkey Farm Uses a Gasification System to Produce Heat

By Tammy Marie Rose
TMCnet Contributing Writer

The green movement is one that has been openly welcomed by farmers across the globe. Many farmers have cut their carbon footprints by using solar power. John Zimmerman, who runs a turkey farm near Northfield, Minnesota is using a green energy building known as a gasification system.

Zimmerman takes the manure produced on his farm and converts it into heat that he uses to keep the barns where the turkeys are kept warm. They raise approximately three million pounds of turkey annually that produce 2,100 tons of turkey manure and shavings. The gasification system can also produce electricity.

Gasification is the process of burning manure in a low-oxygen environment to convert organic compounds to gases. When pig or turkey manure is gasified, gases such as methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen are released. The gases are then collected and used to make fuel-grade ethanol.

The Zimmerman’s had the gasification system  installed in 2009. They initially used to eliminate manure and produce biochar. By the fifth day the system was running as designed with turkey litter as the fuel. In 2010 Zimmerman added a heat exchanger and hot oil system to provide heat to the turkey houses.

Right now, because of the low cost of propane, it is financially beneficial for him to use it , but Zimmerman says that once fossil fuel prices rise again he will be set up to use his system. There is also the chance that the state will restrict farmers who are in the Mississippi watershed from spreading manure. If this happens the use of gasification systems could be what keeps turkey prices from increasing.

Minnesota plays a big role in turkey production. There are currently 250 family run turkey farms in the state.

Turkey farming is sustainable. Turkey farmers in Minnesota use turkey manure as green fertilizer for croplands to generate electricity at a plant in Benson. The turkey litter is also beneficial to the soil and its ability to hold carbon.

The majority of turkeys raised in the United States are now being raised in environmentally-controlled and scientifically-designed buildings that keep the birds safe from predators, weather and disease.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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