Sand Recovery System, an innovation that separates sand from sewage
Mavasol’s separator allows obtaining quality sand to be reused for cattle berths, improving animal welfare and farm management.
By Anna Mossini
This is the first system installed in a dairy cow farm in Italy. It is an innovative system, very common in American barns, which guarantees full respect for animal welfare, environmental sustainability and economy.
Its name is Sand Recovery System, a separator of organic waste made by the American company Daritech and marketed in Europe by the Dutch company Mavasol, able to separate the sand from the sewage to be used in the berths of cows.
The plant, now unique in our country, was installed last April at the Ernest Holstein breeding farm of Matteo Baiguera located in Verolavecchia, in Brescia. About 900 animals in the stable, 390 are in lactation. All the feed destined for livestock, with the exception of concentrates, which are purchased from a trusted company, comes from the cultivation of 150 hectares of land belonging to the company from which is obtained corn, alfalfa, ryegrass and sorghum, wheat.
What are the reasons that led you to install the Sand Recovery System in your farm?
In order to answer this question, we need to take a backward step, – explains Matteo Baiguera, – and start with the renovation of the barn, which took place in 2011 and is largely oriented towards improving animal welfare conditions. It was an important project that involved all areas of the farm: from the sidewalls to the showers for cooling, from the ventilation system to the solar panels, without forgetting the optimization of the berths for which, immediately after the renovation, I used the straw to move on to the sand. However, after analyzing the costs and the time needed to maintain good hygiene conditions, I started a research that would allow me to verify if there were different and innovative solutions on the market that would guarantee greater wellbeing and lower costs.
That is how I discovered Sand Recovery System: in October 2017, I approached the company for a quote and in April of this year, after finalizing the contract, the works were completed within a few weeks that allowed the plant to start working at its full capacity.
How does the Sand Recovery System work?
After scrapers passage, the flushing inside the collection channel conveys all the sewage, then the mix of sand and manure, in a first tank in which, for a natural process, the sand filters on the bottom. Here the use of a “cannon” recovers the sand and at the same time cleans it.
At the same time the water released by the flushing transshipment and flows into a flat lane called sandline where the same water slows down its run allowing the smallest fraction of the sand to settle: event that the turbulence of the water does not make possible in the first tank. At this point, the process of recovering all the sand is completed.
The resulting sewage flows into another tank where, a separator removes the fibrous part removed and the resulting liquid ends up in another storage tank and used for the initial flushing of the sewage collection channel. There are three elements obtained for three different uses: sand, which to ensure the best quality standards must have a size ranging between 0 and 2 mm, is reserved for cattle berths; the fibrous part is used in soil fertilization in place of chemical fertilizers, while the liquid fraction is conveyed into the tank to be used as a flushing, any surplus is placed in another storage tank reserve.
Not only economic benefits
What are the advantages that you have already noticed within a few months of starting the system?
All of them are different and very important – points out Baiguera – thanks to the characteristics of the sand that ensures better comfort to the cow, reducing the working time for the management of every single berth.
The presence of flies and dust has been greatly reduced, I have recorded the cancellation of decubitus lesions in the hocks and the dangerous slips of the cows that now, walking more safely, show better heat.
Moreover, that’s not all. The inter-digital foot dermatitis has decreased by 50% and the same percentage concerns the reduction of mastitis compared to the period in which I used straw for the berths; the somatic cell count has decreased and the use of disinfectants has also been reduced.
There is also another aspect not less important of an economic nature, especially related to energy consumption since the plant is equipped with an inverter. If we consider that the use of straw in berths required an annual cost of 70,000 euros, in addition to a considerable amount of work and a series of management problems, the transition to sand has allowed to reduce by a third the cost.
Thanks to the Sand Recovery System, the use of which objectively leads to greater wear of the scrapers and a considerable consumption of the sole of the feet of the cows, the washing and recovery of the sand optimizes the work of the company, avoiding its dispersion on the ground.
Have you already calculated in how long indicatively will it repay the investment?
It’s too early to provide definitive data, but I think that the amortization will take about 4 years. With Sand Recovery System – concludes Baiguera – I think we can really talk about a global approach to the concept of circular economy that today is a cornerstone of our business. Everything that the farm produces, in fact, is reused without waste in the name of environmental sustainability and with significant savings in time and money: the efficiency of the plant allows you to recover 95% of the sand separated from the sewage. This seems to me to be a figure that speaks for itself and that, together with all the other aspects listed, demonstrates the validity of this choice.
The Sand Recovery System in action.