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VALLEY AND VENTURA COUNTY | VENTURA COUNTY REVIEW /
LEO SMITH

Company Takes High-Tech Approach to Cow Pies

April 14, 1998|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The San Bernardino County city of Chino has about 300,000 cows packed into its dairy farms. And 300,000 cows produce a lot of bodily waste.

That might not sound particularly inviting to the average person, but to officials at Environmental Products & Technologies Corp. of Westlake Village, the cows may as well be putting out a welcome mat.

Chino will be the first stop for Environmental Products employees as they begin to tour livestock-rich regions throughout the United States to market the firm's waste-management products.

The company, which opened in Thousand Oaks in 1993, has obtained $3 million in investments that will allow the products to be demonstrated on a large scale for the first time. It also will finance the manufacturing of five demonstration units, bringing the company's total number to six.

"We are now able to launch a complete sales and marketing program," said Marvin Mears, president of the corporation, which also operates a processing facility in Ogden, Utah.

The stepped-up campaign initially will include stops in Ogden as well as Tulare, Calif., and Sunnyside, Wash. Mears said the promotional program will require an increase in staff from the current 11 employees to more than 30 by the end of 1998.

The marketing plan calls for the environmentally friendly waste-management systems to be demonstrated to dairy farmers, hog ranchers and poultry farmers.

The system converts waste into reusable fertilizer and non-potable water for farming. At the same time, the methane gas that is generated can be converted into energy for power milking machines, compressors and other farming and ranching machinery.

"What is driving our customer is not our snazzy technology," Mears said. "It is regulation--social and political pressure to clean up water and do business differently.

"In the last 45 years, the U.S. has been industrializing their agriculture--they have been using technology to do better on less," he said. "The only thing that has not been industrialized is the waste management. We're still back at the outhouse level of technology: Dig a hole, stick it in the hole and hope it doesn't run and go anywhere. But it does and leaches into the ground."

Waste is commonly transferred to multi-acre lagoons. The Environmental Products system, which Mears said could eliminate the open lagoons, consists of closed, insulated tanks that eliminate contact with the waste and cut the odor associated with it.

"We are totally self-contained, not exposed to the product, and we totally take [the waste] off the site," Mears said.

"Our plan is that we will enter into long-term operating and maintenance agreements with our customers," he said. "We will stay with the process on a long-term basis and will allow the grower to really do what he is in business to do, which is produce a product for market and not worry about waste and regulations."

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