Lafayette Startup Turning Poop Into Profit

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Eco-Tek created and sells equipment that converts manure into dairy bio-fiber. (Photo courtesy: National Dairy Council) Eco-Tek created and sells equipment that converts manure into dairy bio-fiber. (Photo courtesy: National Dairy Council)

A Lafayette company is using cow manure to make products for the agriculture industry. Eco-Tek LLC founder and President Roland Kessler says the company runs manure through a biological process and ultimately turns it into natural bedding for dairy farmers and potting mix for horticulture operations. Kessler, a respiratory therapist and paramedic before becoming an entrepreneur, says Eco-Tek is working with the Purdue Foundry to find investors and distribution opportunities.

Kessler says the process begins by collecting manure from dairy farmers with more of it than they can handle. The waste, mostly containing undigested grass, then goes into the company's Solid Recovery Unit, which separates solid material and heats it up to eliminate odor and kill pathogens. The remaining material is used to make the bedding and potting mix.

The potting soil can ultimately be an alternative to peat moss, which faces some criticism because its production releasing greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Britain's environmental agency, for example, says it wants to phase out peat moss for hobby gardeners by 2020, and for commercial use 10 years later.

Kessler says farmers can buy the Eco-Tek equipment to process the manure at their own farms. He says the startup has sold five units so far, and believes those systems will pay for themselves in less than three years.

Kessler and Eco-Tek were featured in the latest edition of our Life Sciences INdiana e-newsletter.

Kessler expects environmental regulations will increase business for Eco-Tek, because its process significantly reduces methane, a greenhouse gas.
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