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Innovation Watch: Newtrient: Helping U.S. dairy realize opportunities from manure

Contributed by Steve Rowe Published on 30 June 2017

Imagine a day when dairy farmers and other members of the U.S. dairy industry realize the economic, environmental and societal benefits of a currently underused resource: manure. Now, with the help of Newtrient, that day is closer to reality.

Together, we work to advance technologies, services, products and markets to generate value, and preserve and enhance the environment for dairy farm businesses of all sizes.

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Newtrient’s mission aligns with farmers’ long-standing commitment to identify resources and solutions that further reduce dairy’s environmental footprint while also making it economically viable to do so. And now, farmers have a new resource available: the Newtrient Technology Catalog.

The catalog, available free of charge online (Newtrient), also serves as a great resource to other farmers and agricultural businesses, technology vendors and consultants, and local, state and federal policy leaders.

It is the right resource at the right time as the U.S. dairy industry continues its commitment to environmental stewardship and continual improvement. The catalog offers a treasure trove of information, including a unique scoring system that helps farmers assess manure-related technologies and markets, and identify which technologies and vendors offer the best solutions for their specific business goals.

Scoring is based on predetermined criteria established by experts and leaders in manure management technologies, business analysis, sustainability, agricultural policy and environmental law. Criteria includes commercial viability, economic and industry value, and transparency and customer satisfaction.

New resources will be added and scores re-evaluated as additional information becomes available. Newtrient hopes the catalog will spur competition within the manure management technology sector.

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Shifting the paradigm

Farmers know of manure’s nutrient, soil-building and fertilizer value – and Newtrient aims to educate others of this value and show them how to seize the opportunity.

Dairy farmers are price “takers” – from the milk your cows produce to the crops you grow. This also usually applies to manure, resulting in an economic value “trapped” because of commodity pricing, an antiquated farm input supply chain, along with a well-intended but outdated regulatory enforcement approach to environmental protection.

Historically, the environmental protection enforcement community have relied primarily on negative drivers to force behavior change through regulations, enforcement and fines.

Shifting the paradigm from these negative enforcement drivers to encouraging change through positive economic drivers will lead to faster and less expensive environmental improvements. It also can, over time, provide additional benefits that:

  • Stimulate rural economies by offering technologies and services that reduce potential pollution where it is more affordable to control

  • Reduce environmental costs in urban centers, where pollution prevention efforts can be much more costly

  • Encourage a more collaborative relationship with regulators with an emphasis on economic and environmental stewardship stimulus

  • Bolster public trust in dairy by reinforcing farmers’ commitment as environmental stewards of our natural resources

Opportunities ahead

Those well versed in manure management know there are valuable components in manure that people buy, including nitrogen, phosphorus, fiber, good biological matter that supports healthy soil and water.

Newtrient is developing these manure components into product opportunities. For example, we are working with an innovative company that can take the long fibers from manure to develop a viable product desired by the lawn and garden industry to help seeds and plants take root, among other specialty uses.

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Equally exciting is the work we are doing to develop markets for environmental asset services. This helps farmers manage or remove nutrients – like phosphorus – at a cost far lower than other potential polluting sources.

This allows farmers to sell their voluntary environmental protection services to other companies and municipalities that would otherwise have to pay significantly more to achieve their environmental obligations.

Newtrient also is working with various state regulatory agencies, the EPA and the USDA to develop “environmental asset trading programs.” These programs envision voluntary lowest-cost pollution prevention efforts to be used first – and for those efforts to be paid for by companies and municipalities who struggle with the high cost of their compliance obligations.

Because dairies can often do this work at a fraction of the cost of some industrial and municipal entities, dairies are well situated to offer these voluntary services, get paid to do so and help communities achieve their environmental goals.

These examples help demonstrate Newtrient’s focus on advancing manure management products and technologies, its commitment to building a viable manure-based marketplace for dairy and its leadership in accelerating the adoption of environmental markets for voluntary, pollution prevention services.  end mark

Steve Rowe
  • Steve Rowe

  • President and CEO
  • Newtrient LLC
  • Email Steve Rowe

The following update is provided by Newtrient, created by DMI, NMPF and 12 dairy co-ops that represent more than half of the milk volume and farm businesses in the U.S. It was created to help all dairy farmers, technology providers and other stakeholders assess manure management opportunities and challenges to make informed decisions. Visit Newtrient for more information.

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