Perdue AgriRecycle opens first pellet fertilizer plant

The first rail shipment of an organic, commercial fertilizer manufactured from used poultry litter rolled out of Sussex County, Del., today, carrying excess nutrients produced by the region's broiler industry to nutrient-deficient grain farms in the Midwest.

SEAFORD, Del., July 9, 2001 — The first rail shipment of an organic, commercial fertilizer manufactured from used poultry litter rolled out of Sussex County, Del., today, carrying excess nutrients produced by the region's broiler industry to nutrient-deficient grain farms in the Midwest.

The train was christened by Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner.

"This is a great day for Delaware agriculture," said Gov. Minner. "It represents not only a part of the solution to our nutrient management situation, but also the ability of agriculture, business and government to work together to meet a challenge. I'm very proud of what we've been able to do here."

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-De), also a speaker at the event and Governor of Delaware when the project began, agreed. "From the very beginning, when this venture was brought to my attention, Delaware played an important role by recognizing and supporting this process as a solution. I'm very proud of our partnership and look forward to the plant's success."

The fertilizer, MicroStart60™, was produced at the recently opened Perdue AgriRecycle, LLC, Micronutrient Plant in Seaford, Del. The 65,000-square-foot, totally enclosed plant is capable of converting poultry litter into 80,000 finished tons of fertilizer pellets through an environmentally friendly process that recaptures the nitrogen and phosphorous while preserving the organic matter.

"This is an environmentally sound solution for sustainable agriculture," said Mike Ferguson, General Manager, Perdue AgriRecycle. "We are recycling the nutrients, organic matter and humus." Because Delmarva's poultry industry requires more grain than the region can produce, poultry companies bring in grain from the Midwest to feed their chickens. When the chickens consume that grain, they also consume nutrients — including nitrogen and phosphorous — that end up in the litter. Runoff from excess nutrients has been linked to water pollution. The Perdue AgriRecycle™ process recaptures the nutrients, returning nitrogen and phosphorous to nutrient-deficient regions where they are needed to support crop production.

Perdue AgriRecycle is a joint venture between Perdue Farms, one of the country's largest poultry companies, and AgriRecycle, the Missouri-based company that developed the litter-pelletizing technology.

"We partnered with AgriRecycle to build this plant because we wanted to keep agriculture viable on Delmarva," said Jim Perdue, Chairman of Perdue Far"The farm families who raise chickens for the poultry industry needed an alternative to traditional land application for their surplus poultry litter, and AgriRecycle's process offered the most environmentally sound solution. It is the only alternative that recycles both the valuable nutrients and organic material without creating any waste byproducts."

Perdue AgriRecycle has contracted with local farm families, regardless of their poultry company affiliation, to clean out their poultry houses and transport the litter to the Micronutrient Plant at no cost to the farmer.

The process begins at the farm, where surplus litter is loaded into specially designed, sealed trucks for transport to the micronutrient plant. The trucks are unloaded in the plant, where a negative air system prevents dust and odor from escaping to the environment. Special filters and scrubbers ensure that the air leaving the plant is cleaner than the outside air.

Raw material is heated and pasteurized, removing moisture and destroying any bacteria. The dried material is then converted into three-eighths-inch pellets, which are loaded into trucks or rail cars for bulk shipment to nutrient deficient regions.

The plant emits virtually no odor due to a unique system of 'scrubbing' the air free of odor-producing material. And because the moisture removed in the drying process is re-used in the pelletizing stage, the plant has no wastewater discharge.

Perdue Farms invested $12 million to build the facility, which includes $3.4 million in odor-control technology. In the last two years, Perdue Farms has invested an additional $6 million — including upgraded wastewater treatment at its processing plants, research and producer education — to protect the Chesapeake and Delmarva coastal bays and their tributaries. Perdue Farms was also one of four poultry companies operating in Delaware to sign an agreement with Delaware officials outlining the companies' voluntary commitment to help independent poultry producers dispose of surplus chicken litter.

Perdue AgriRecycle is a joint venture between Perdue Farms Inc., one of the country's largest poultry companies, and AgriRecycle, the company that developed the litter-pelletizing technology.

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