Chicken fertilizer plan gets support

A plan for a new way of dealing with chicken remains has received Salmon Arm council’s stamp of approval.

A plan for a new way of dealing with chicken remains has received city council’s stamp of approval.

Richard Bell, owner of Farmcrest Foods, and Ruth McDougall, agrologist, came to the city’s May 22 planning meeting to request its support for an application to the provincial Ministry of Environment for a permit. The permit would authorize the discharge of effluent from a small-scale chicken rendering facility.

A city staff report notes that “the facility produces a liquid condensate during the rendering process which will be stored in a lined lagoon on site and during growing season it will be applied to the applicant’s land – approximately three hectares annually – to meet nutrient and irrigation requirements…”

The report recommended the committee of council adopt a motion that would advise the ministry the city has no concerns with the permit application “provided the operation does not negatively impact surface or ground water and does not generate excessive odours.”

McDougall said the waste – feathers, heads, feet, fat and skin – is now processed in the small rendering plant on site, creating a high protein, poultry meal conglomerate. The conglomerate is sold for use off the farm.

During the process liquid waste evaporates, is condensed and then captured as a liquid.

“It’s a clear liquid with no odour, it’s sterile because of the heat, not pathogenic… with low levels of fat, oil and grease,” said McDougall. “There will be small amounts of nutrients, nitrogen and sulphur.”

She said the liquid will be used to irrigate the crop land, “to provide nutrients required by corn, as well as water.”  The plan will provide a more environmentally sustainable way of handling the liquid waste, she said, because the crop will take up as many of the nutrients as possible. She added that it would minimize the use of chemical fertilizer.

“It’s a win-win, the crop gets some nutrients and water, and it cleans the condensate.”

Couns. Alan Harrison and Marg Kentel asked about potential odours.

“I think because it’s a pretty unique and new process, we can’t say 100 per cent no odours are being produced,” McDougall said, noting if there were odours, they would be during the spraying. “We don’t anticipate it will be a problem, it’s not a problem now. If there are odours that are offensive, Richard is willing to go back to it.”

Coun. Debbie Cannon asked if, once approvals are given, there would be the ability to deal with odour.

“When they irrigate with it going through the air, will we have the ability to deal with that, after approvals are set?”

Replied McDougall: “The Ministry of Environment has to respond. Richard has no intention of annoying his neighbours. If odours are beyond normal farming practices, he will respond to those concerns.”

Coun. Ken Jamieson was absent, but all other council members present voted in favour of supporting the application. At the following council meeting, council spoke positively of the application but agreed to review its position after one year.