New technology developed in Salmon Arm to make dairy farms more environmentally sustainable while creating quality fertilizer received assistance from the B.C. government.
Valid Manufacturing, located in the Salmon Arm industrial park, recently developed a nutrient-recovery system to help dairy farmers manage agricultural waste. The province’s food security task force took notice and awarded the local manufacturer $320,000 in funding through its agritech grant program.
Valid CEO Chad Shipmaker said the system mechanically separates the solids from the liquids in dairy cow manure, leaving most of the nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen behind in the solids.
Valid is working with Vancouver-based Lucent BioSciences Inc. to take recovered livestock waste collected from dairy cows and turn it into a non-polluting and high-performance fertilizer.
Lucent is receiving a $245,000 grant of their own to assist with the development and marketing of the fertilizer.
Shipmaker said the system Valid developed is already up and running on two dairies, one in Abbotsford and one in Grindrod. He said the farmers who have put the system to work have provided very positive feedback. Now that the technology is proven, Shipmaker said the government grant will be used to commercialize and scale it up, in hopes of getting it working on as many dairy farms as possible.
He added that Valid’s system is something of a rarity among high-tech farm implements as it is a made-in-B.C. solution. Shipmaker said most farm equipment is imported from Europe or the United States.
Valid Manufacturing is not the only local recipient of the government funding program meant to assist agricultural technology businesses. TechBrew Robotics received the grant to help develop a mushroom-picking robot.
Lana Fitt, economic development manager for the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (SAEDS), said Salmon Arm’s combination of a skilled high-tech workforce and relatively small population is unique. She added that technology plays a part in Salmon Arm’s entire economy, including agriculture, and SAEDS is looking to promote and support agritech projects.