Sietsma Farms in central Michigan sends more than a million turkeys a year to the dinner table.
That’s a lot of Thanksgiving feasts.
A million turkeys also generate a lot of waste – on the order of 17,000 tons of litter per year. Local farms are happy to use it as fertilizer, but a little litter goes a long way – and at this point, the litter has to go farther and farther away. In fact, it can cost as much as $10 a ton just to get it to mid-Michigan farms that can use it. A million turkeys also need to eat. To feed all those birds, Sietsma Farms has its own mill that creates feed pellets, which is a very energy intensive process.
Thanks to a $500,000 energy grant and $700,750 energy loan from USDA Rural Development, Sietsma Farms has constructed a biomass renewable energy plant adjacent to their Howard City facility. This will use the turkey litter to power the feed processing center. The energy plant will require 14,000 tons of litter per year to produce approximately 8,625 pounds of steam and 462 kW per hour.
It will draw upon the waste of five turkey operations within a 45-mile radius for its fuel, in effect turning a hazardous substance into a valuable one. As a result, there will be less pollution, less odors and more electricity for other users in the area.
We estimate that the project will pay for itself within four years.
Not bad for a holiday dinner entrée.
Alec Lloyd, Michigan Public Information Coordinator, USDA Rural Development