SALEM, Ohio – In the works for years, Farmers Ethanol LLC’s project at Cadiz in Harrison County is taking shape.
Chief Operating Officer Gary Weber gave the following details about what farmers and area landowners can expect when the plant is installed and running.
Permits. Developers have already secured permits to install and operate from Ohio Department of Agriculture for a 10,000-head beef feedlot and a 2,000-cow dairy. Because the farm would have more than 10,000 animals, it falls under regulations for Major Confined Animal Feeding Facilities.
According to ODA permits, the dairy facility would consist of two freestall barns for housing the dairy cows, with one barn housing 1,332 cows and the other barn housing 668 cows.
The beef facility would consist of eight barns, four receiving barns each capable of housing 350 head of cattle and four beef finishing barns with each capable of housing a total of 2,150 head of cattle.
The permit to operate includes plans for manure management, insect and rodent control, mortality management, and emergency response for the entire farm.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Jim Leach said the facility’s developers have also secured the necessary surface water discharge and air permits from the state.
Wet mill. The plant is planned to have a wet mill on the ‘front end’ of the ethanol-making process. The wet mill implements the technology to take the germ and oil out of the corn kernel before it’s processed for ethanol. The germ and oil can be sold for an additional premium, and the removal cuts back on the energy required to make ethanol.
Distillers grains. Approximately 40 percent of the distillers grains produced as an ethanol byproduct will be fed on-site. Weber said the remainder will be sold as wet or dry distillers grains to farmers in the area.
Beef opportunity. The beef feedlot is planned to finish 20,000 head per year, and background another 4,000 calves, Weber said. On the beef side, there will be an opportunity later this year for local farmers to get in on contract grazing, cow-calf and stocker operations to supply the ethanol plant farm.
Dairy details. The dairy operation will have 2,000 cows and will likely sell heifers as replacements to area farms. The farm will also likely contract later this year with local farmers to feed its heifers and bull calves.
Anaerobic digester. Plans also call for an anaerobic digester on-site. The digester would use organic waste to produce electrical energy and heat, making the farm and ethanol operations a closed-loop system.
Weber said other outputs from the digester would be a highly concentrated liquid fertilizer that could possibly be offered to local hay and silage growers. The digester’s solid waste outputs will be used for bedding in the beef and dairy operations, Weber said.
Crop needs. Weber said the 20-million gallon ethanol plant would require approximately 7 million bushels of corn per year to operate. Of that, he estimated developers would source 3 million bushels from Ohio.
Weber also said they’ve estimated needing 2,400 tons of hay for the feedlot operation, which would translate into about 800 acres of hay ground locally.
The dairy’s target is to produce 7 million gallons of milk per year, and to input about 15,000 tons of corn silage.
Worth a premium. Site engineering includes plans for two scales to weigh hay, silage and corn deliveries, and to ship and receive materials by truck and rail, Weber said.
He also noted rumors the facility will only accept large square bales of hay or corn with certain moisture levels are not true.
“We’re going to do our very bests to buy locally and however you’re producing,” he said.
An on-site lab will be able to calculate the nutrient content of hay and test weights on corn.
“The guys running [the ethanol plant] want to be rigid on corn specs. Lower and higher test weight corn can be adjusted for the blend, we just haven’t set standards yet. Bottom line, every test weight has value,” Weber said.
Weber also said “technically, corn with higher moisture is best” for making ethanol and “should be worth a premium.” Operators will simply have to figure out how to handle, store and blend high-moisture corn to reduce spoilage.
“It’s my gut feel that if you bring in something that’s worth more, you should get paid more,” Weber said.