Published on Mon, 03/23/2015, American Dairymen www.americandairymen.com
Over the past 15 years in Western Iowa, custom applicator, Ben Puck, has been working on feasible solutions to help his dairy customers regain control over their manure storage.
“It’s been a process of growth and change,” reflects Puck. “Around 1998 we found work at a large dairy of 1,500 cows who were bedding with wood chips. Since then they have grown to 4,500 cows and are now bedding with sand.”
“The challenge of regaining storage has been a challenge of quality agitation,” continued Puck. “These lagoons were built far too wide and long to entrain solids in the center of the lagoon using agitation from the shoreline. So, we began floating our agitators out to the center in an attempt to regain storage capacity. It was a lot of work, but what we learned led us to where we are today.”
By 2005, Puck’s company, Puck Custom Enterprises (PCE), began manufacturing hose reels and booster pumps for dragline systems.
“The dairies and swine farms were growing, but our window of time for application was the same. We had to go faster,” states Puck. “This year we saw flow rates over 3,000 gallons per minute to the field, and that was crucial with the wet spring and fall we had last year.”
In 2010, PCE’s years of efforts developing agitation paid off and they tested and released the first remote-controlled Agitation Boat. “This was a product we were proud to offer as a feasible clean-out solution, but the ‘Boat’ has come a long way since 2010,” states Puck.
Bedding materials, separation processes and handling processes all vary throughout the country, but the PCE Agitation Boat continues to perform through the toughest conditions, even as a replacement for excavation.
In 2012 a dairy in New York needed an excavation for their sand-ladened lagoon and found the cost to be the same as a PCE Agitation Boat. They purchased a PCE Boat, regained their storage capacity, and now use their Boat as an ongoing management tool.
In California, a dairy bedding with almond shells was also out of storage capacity. The final stage lagoon had very limited access points and was needing an excavation. By renting a PCE Boat, the dairy regained their lagoon storage, found better flush water, watched the herd health improve, and then purchased the PCE Boat. Now managing their lagoon is one of the lowest concerns on the farm.
At a 2,500 head dairy in Wisconsin, a PCE Agitation Boat serves a dual purpose. They agitate for 4-6 hours to create a thickened slurry, then use the Boat as a lead pump for their dragline system. After a few hours, they rotate the Boat back to agitation. This has provided an excellent return for their operation.
In Iowa, a custom applicator uses the largest PCE Boat, model 4010, to also service a limestone quarry. In two days he was able to remove sediments that would have taken the quarry 30 days of hauling with trucks. He used the larger 4010 Boat to agitate, and another Boat as a lead pump to pump the slurry out through his PCE Dragline system.
“Effectiveness of agitation is a direct correlation of movement,” states innovator, Ben Puck. “You need high volumes and high head pressure to create movement and keep that energy moving through the lagoon for an extended period of time. Thicker slurry requires more energy to move, and a thick slurry is a goal because we can keep sand and sediment in suspension when our mixture is thick.”
PCE utilizes Cornell high-head pumps with capacities of 3,000–6,500 gallons per minute. High-head means high pressure, and Puck says those high pressures are necessary and most important for effective agitation.
“New Boats have hardened metal pumps to resist sand wear, a new cutter design for the pump’s intake to handle debris, and have a new remote control system we call Voyager,” states Puck. “Voyager can be upgraded to include LightSpeed controls for remote operation as a lead pump.”
“We believe a PCE Agitation Boat is one of the best investments a Dairy farmer or his custom applicator can make for their manure management plan while providing them a high return on their investment,” closes Puck.