Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Holstein Cows Benefit From Unique Recycling

March 4, 2005

SOME ecologically minded dairyfarmers in Sarapiquí, in the northeasternlowlands of Costa Rica, have come upwith an advanced recycling system inwhich Holstein cows more suited toAlpine highlands feel fresh and cool in theCaribbean tropics by means of fans run bypower produced with their own manure.The Pozo Azul dairy farm has becomea tourist attraction because of its unusual,economical and environmentally responsibleway to get 180 Holstein cows to producemilk and electricity in a hot climate.The cows not only survive the heat,which can reach 100 degrees, but also produce2,000 quarts of milk a day.The unusual cooling idea is a model ofsustainable savings, because in addition togiving milk, the cows provide fertilizerand contribute to generating electricity.More than 10 years ago, inspired bysimilar projects they had seen in Arab countries,Alberto Quintana and his family, ownersof Pozo Azul, set up gigantic fans outfittedwith hoses that spray water into theenvironment. The system lowers the temperaturein the stockyard to 15 C (59 F) andeffectively simulates the cow’s natural environment.The animals’ natural habitat is morethan 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) above sealevel and usually has low temperatures.The fans run on electricity generatedby methane gas extracted from the dung ofthe same cows that get the “cold benefit.”A “biodigestor” extracts methane gasfrom the dung. The gas then passes throughtwo other machines that convert it to electricity.What remains of the excrement goesinto another tank where worms feed on itand produce an organic fertilizer used onthe ranch’s pasture and banana plantation.

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