Monday, November 9, 2015

Bechtel uses zeolite to preserve nitrogen

Paul Bechtel of Baden is preserving the nitrogen content in his beef manure by adding zeolite.

It has doubled the selling price of his manure, has reduced greenhouse gas emissions and reduced odours.

Bechtel already won a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence in 2009 for developing a high-temperature composting system that transformed manure from his beef feedlot into fertilizer.

Now he has won an innovation award from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for his zeolite solution.

“This naturally occurring mineral adsorbs nitrogen, cutting methane emissions and doubling the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in his compost.

“While adding zeolite costs just one dollar per tonne of manure, it doubles the price Bechtel can command for the finished product,” says the OMAFRA citation.

This is the third generation of Bechtels that I have had the privilege of writing about. Grandfather Pete Bechtel was an outstanding entrepreneur who had a Jersey herd near Cambridge and turkey farms near where I was born and raised.

One of his sons, Bob Bechtel, set up an innovative beef feedlot, also near our farm, and was an outstanding innovator, using turkey litter in his corn silage ration, then urea when some city folks objected to the idea of turkey litter as feed, and then fed discards from large-volume vegetable growers, such as carrots.

I wrote an article about his farm for Maclean's Magazine. It was an exciting time for both of us launching our respective careers.