Windview Farms

Windview Farm operates a turkey growing operation and crop farm in Union Township, Snyder County, PA.  The two barns finish four flocks per barn and average about 6,500 birds per flock.  Manure is utilized on the cropland and exported to local farms as a nutrient source for crop production.  Windview Farm is currently considered a Concentrated Animal Operation (CAO).  The land is high in phosphorus due to the poultry operation and a number of acres used for the manure application.  Nutrient management issues associated with the poultry industry are important for many reasons.  Foremost is the collective desire of the public and poultry industry to maintain environmental quality of the Susquehanna River Basin.  Secondarily, these impinge on the perception of the industry by the public and the sustainability of poultry farms throughout Pennsylvania and the U.S.

Morrill (Mac) Curtis realized there were ways to profit from nutrient management control, pollution prevention, and energy efficiency by seeking the guidance from the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP).  In 2008, Mac contacted the EMAP consultant for assistance with funding for a project he was working on.  He was interested in installing a biomass burner.  The plan was to fuel the boiler with the poultry manure generated at the farm.  Installation of the boiler would reduce the amount of poultry manure that is land applied by the farm production, reduce the farm’s Pennsylvania Phosphorus Index Rate in nutrient management, and help to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  In 2008, the EMAP consultant guided Mac through the grant application processes and Windview Farm was awarded $165,000 in one Federal (USDA Conservation Innovation Grant) grant and one State (Energy Harvest) grant to install the Manure Gasification Hot Water Boiler to heat his poultry barns. 

In 2009, Windview Farm fired up the Manure Gasification Hot Water Boiler.  Dr. Paul Patterson, Professor in Poultry Science at Penn State University, are studying the performance of the boiler, flock performance, litter fuel and the ash produced and its effects on the land.  Nutrient management issues associated with the poultry industry and the high heating costs influenced the research.  The first ten weeks of study showed that installing the system had a domino effect achieving success beyond the set targets for the company and breed standards

Propane use, which costs Windview Farm as much as $30,000 annually, were reduced by 90%.  Three hundred and forty-one (341) tons of litter was produced over the first ten (10) weeks of study.  Of the litter produced, 5 - 15% (15.1 tons) constitutes the ash which was found to be rich in diphosphates, a good manure.  The reduced volume of the litter would also reduce the litter export costs for the farm which do not have crop production in house.

The payback period for the project was less than two years. The roaring success of using turkey litter to heat the poultry farm by Windview Farm shows that monetary savings and environmental protection go hand in hand.