Monday, February 12, 2007

Market This

You get all those cows eating all that grass and you will get a lot of milk. You will also get a lot of bovine doodoo. Sometimes you get more doodoo than you know what to "do-do" with. When the volume goes beyond what can be used as fertilizer, folks have to go to Plan B. And Plan C. Or, to quote Wendy Powers, a professor of agriculture at Michigan State University, "We really need to think outside the box on what uses for manure are." I think she means the litter box.

One interesting innovation is the use of the sterile and odorless solid residue left after anaerobic digesters have captured methane gas and liquid fertilizer from the raw manure. Mixed with a chemical resin and then subjected to heat and pressure, the manure solids can be turned into fiberboard as strong -- or stronger -- than the wood-based twin. Fiberboard, as we all know, can be used for all kinds of building projects and this particular source of fiberboard is not only plentiful and readily renewable, it's cheap.

The only problem seems to be that folks tend to be put off by the idea of manure-based building material. Since the material is sterile and odorless, the revulsion factor is merely psychological and we should be able to overcome it with a little creative marketing. For instance, you don't tell the customer their new flooring is made from cow shit. You explain it's an incredibly strong amalgamation of organically processed natural whole grains and reclaimed resins (powdered milk jugs). Not only does the flooring now sound pleasingly ecological, it sounds downright healthy!

It would also help to cash in on the popularity of cows by alluding to their virtues rather than their residues. Tell folks it's Brahma tough and prettier than a Holstein calf. Comes in Jersey Beige or Herford Russet.

Marketing. Gotta love it.


Anonymous said...

Used to be they made whole houses out of what the cattle left behind them -- wattle and daub -- guess what the 'daub' is! :-)

Dee said...

They still do, John. I was fascinated to find this
with great photos of the start to finish process. And, yes, the "daub" is, indeed, organically processed fiber. (smile)

Anonymous said...

I would love to live in a house built from straw blocks so it wouldn't bother me to walk on cow manure. :-)

Wolfie said...

With all the critters in my house, there's usually shit on the floor somewhere anyway, why not start out that way? And wouldn't it be a great selling point if you ever decided to sell the house? :oD "Yep, this here floor is made o' cow shite!"

The Old Guy said...

Holy cow, Dee. I'm floored. You probably have to heifer put in by a contractor, no?

But then again, even high-cost houses now are having mud floors installed, because, well, they're cool. The Garden Section of the NYTimes online (subscription required but free for now) was where I found it this week, but there's a nice site that explains adobe flooring here.