Making the Most of Manure


Complaints from odor-offended neighbors and a desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have prompted some dairy farmers to integrate anaerobic digestion systems into their operations. Although it’s not for everyone, using manure to generate power and produce a nutrient-rich soil amendment is something that should seriously be considered.

One of the biggest challenges dairy operators face is managing ruminant manure. Many farmers today are using biogas recovery systems, such as anaerobic digestion to increase profitability, better manage crops, generate on-site power and ultimately improve the environment.

The environmental benefits provided by anaerobic digester systems exceed those of conventional liquid and slurry manure management systems that use storage tanks, ponds and lagoons. Dairy farmers and agricultural experts agree that the primary benefits of anaerobic digestion are odor control, improved soil nutrient management and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The process also allows for the capture of methane and carbon dioxide, commonly known as biogas, which can be sold as clean-burning electricity.

It’s often the environmental benefits, rather than the digester’s electrical and thermal energy generation potential, that motivate most farmers to use digester technology. This is especially true in areas that enjoy low electric power costs.


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