In order to pick up the skills needed to take the plunge and invest in anaerobic digestion technology, on any farm to be straight out of college is not essential, but being young and enthusiastic clearly helps, as in our first news item, which follows:
Armed with a master’s degree in animal science, Vanderkooi opened the 80-acre farm near Abbotsford, British Columbia, in June of 2010. He has since established himself as a pioneer among small-scale, sustainable farm owners.
An anaerobic digester is one of the key technologies that Vanderkooi uses in his quest to reduce his farm’s ecological footprint. This machine turns the methane gas released from cow manure into electricity. About 65 percent of cow manure is composed of methane, making it an abundant energy resource. Over the course of a year, Bakerview EcoDairy is able to offset a third of the energy needed to operate the farm, thanks to the digester and a small herd of 50 cows.
(Image by Michael J. Linden via Flickr)
The anaerobic digestion of dairy manure was in the news again when we are told that “manure makes heat”, but not initially by anaerobic digestion. Here is a novel idea for gaining heat from a composting pile, and we cite the following in order to explain:
The pile consists of layers of cow manure and hay embedded with temperature probes, Crockenberg said. It is also negatively aerated, meaning that it draws in air through the pile into the greenhouse, he said.The goal of the pile is to provide CO2 and heat to tomatoes growing inside the greenhouse. This would mean that no fossil fuels would be needed to heat the house in the winter.
But the energy has to come from somewhere. That is where the manure comes in.
By providing the organic material for the microbes to feast on, the cow manure is the source of heat and nutrients for the plants.
“The pile takes in manure and other organic wastes as an energy source,” Cooke said. “It kills two birds with one stone. The farmers can dispose of manure and heat the greenhouse.”
Later, however, we are told that this is only part of the project which will include:
“…anaerobic digestion, solar powered technology, aquaponic fish and vegetable production, gourmet mushrooms, a restaurant, nano-brewery and access to the future skate park and marina, a May Cynic article stated.”
Clearly, there is plenty of news about projects involving the anaerobic digestion of dairy manure currently in the US. More snippets are:
A 10-year effort has come to fruition for a local business. On Monday, A1 Organics in Eaton — the region’s largest commercial composting and organic recycling company — announced it had entered an agreement, worth tens of millions of dollars, with a renewable energy business to develop what could be the largest anaerobic digester project in the U.S. The anaerobic digestion system will convert organic feedstock, or substrate, and dairy cow manure into raw biogas. That raw biogas will be processed into pipeline-quality renewable natural gas, and then be supplied to a municipality.
Dane County’s first manure digester, which began operation in 2011, is located in rural Dane at 6321 Cuba Valley Road — that’s in the town of Vienna just north of Waunakee.
It serves three farms and is estimated to produce about 16 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power approximately 2,500 homes.
A second digester, which is scheduled to be completed later this year, is located just west of the corner of Church Road and Schneider Road in the town of Springfield, west of Middleton. It also serves three farms and is expected to produce the same amount of electricity.
County Executive Joe Parisi’s 2014 budget includes a couple of additional items for the Springfield digester. It will include a system that removes 100 percent of the phosphorus, which is responsible for causing algae growth in the Yahara chain of lakes.
It also will include a drop-off facility for other farmers to bring loads of manure as an alternative to spreading during poor runoff conditions.