Thomas Herlihy

Thomas Herlihy

Thomas Herlihy

Speaker | Synagro

Geneseo, NY |

Tom has over 35 years, leading the design, permitting and operations of large-scale organic waste management projects. His role in these projects has varied from general laborer, through Operations Manager to Lead Design Engineer. He holds a Master’s degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and a Bachelor’s in Physics. His work in the composting field has involved (A) the development of composting technologies, (B) the managing of daily operations and maintenance at large facilities, as well as (C) extensive R&D into the use of compost products in production agriculture. He has authored and been awarded nearly 20 peer reviewed research projects, with budgets totaling over $3M, that have investigated novel composting systems as well as compost use in horticultural production. He is currently the Senior Technical Manager for WeCare Denali working with multiple composting technologies processing a variety of feedstocks under very different climate conditions.

Session Code: 5A

Track: Operations

Session Name: Circular Economy

Session Time: Thursday, February 8, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Presentation Title: Large Scale Composting and Vermicomposting of Dairy Manure

Presentation Description: Large-scale composting and follow on vermicomposting of raw manures has been proven to produce an exceptionally high-quality plant growth and plant protection product suited for use in high value horticultural production. A case study will be presented of North America’s two largest process-controlled vermicomposting facilities. One located on a 6,000-head dairy milking facility in Torreon, MX, and the other on a 1,600-head dairy in Avon, New York, USA. The presentation outlines the siting, design, construction, commissioning, and first years of operations of these state-of-the-science facilities. Numerous design and operational factors will be discussed that strongly impact the volume and quality of vermicompost materials produced, as well as the economic and environmental sustainability of large-scale vermicompositng operations.

Large scale process-controlled vermicomposting provides a unique ability to produce consistent and repeatable products, with plant performance characteristics suited to high value horticulture. The author has teamed with multiple researchers at Cornell University and the University of Vermont to scientifically explore vermicompost products and their potential and mechanisms for use in plant production and the suppression of seedling damping off diseases. Research goals were to develop (1) an understanding of the microbial mechanism of vermicompost mediated suppression of plant pathogens, (2) produce guidelines for the effective use of vermicompost products, and (3) make a new family of liquid vermicompost extracts (shelf stable).