By William P. Thompson
The smell of money is not for everyone. And so some area dairy owners are adding technologically enhanced bacterial cultures to their lagoons in efforts to diminish odors.
Doug Idsinga, owner of Crosswinds Dairy about 15 miles northeast of Portales on Highway 202, has been adding a bacterial product called Roetech-106 to a large lagoon at his dairy. He began adding the bacterial cultures last summer and claims they have greatly reduced the smells associated with cattle.
The product is processed and sent all over the country by a Connecticut company, Roebik.
“The smell used to be really bad. It smelled like a sewage plant out here,” Idsinga said. “We used to have to hold our noses. Now, you can hardly smell it at all.”
Doug White of High Country Enterprises in La Veta, Colo., distributes Roetech-106 in the Portales and Clovis area. He said 13 dairies in the Portales-Clovis area use the product.
“This product does several things,” White said. “It reduces nitrates in the cow manure to pure nitrogen. Nitrates cause toxicity in plants and topsoil. Nitrogen is fertilizer. Changing the nitrates to pure nitrogen allows dairy farmers to apply their lagoon water on their farm crops rather than using harsh chemical forms of nitrogen.”
White said the bacterial cultures break down the gases from cow manure that produce odors.
“Ammonia sulfide and hydrogen sulfide produce the bad smell,” White said. “This bacteria produces an enzyme that changes those odorous gases into harmless non-odorous gases.”
Loretta Heavyside who owns Greenfield Park Dairy, about two miles west of Crosswinds, said she has looked into similar products, but found them too costly.
“I’m not familiar with that product, but usually that has been the case when we’ve investigated,” Heavyside said. “But also, we usually don’t have much water in our lagoons — only when it rains.”
And, Heavyside said, dairy smells have multiple sources, not just lagoons. “Most of the smell comes from water on the animal skin, not necessarily from the standing water,” she said.
High Country Enterprises distributes Roetech-106 to area farmers at $300 for a 50-pound drum. Idsinga said he adds about a pound of the product per week to the lagoon at his dairy farm.
One of Idsinga’s employees, Roy Tarango, said the smell has greatly improved since Crosswinds started adding Roetech-106 to the dairy’s lagoon.
“I live here and work here, and now you can’t smell it anymore,” said Tarango. “We’ve gotten lots of compliments from people who live in the area.”
White said Roetech-106 creates 100 percent organic compounds, so area residents don’t have to worry about hazardous chemicals resulting from the addition of the bacteria to the dairy lagoons.
“It’s completely environmentally friendly,” he said.