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Secretary Vilsack Tours Dairy Farm Methane Digester


The Dairy Site, July 20 2012

Earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a Pennsylvania dairy farm that is using an anaerobic digester to convert manure into electricity and high quality bedding, cutting energy costs and providing a resting area for more contented cows. The digester, which went on-line a year ago, was funded in part with the support of USDA Rural Development.
- Using enhanced manure management techniques not only provides a new source of income for farmers, it also improves air and water quality while providing renewable electricity for hundreds of homes in the community. It's a win-win-win, said Secretary Vilsack.
Pennwood Farms, which is family-owned, uses an anaerobic digester to produce all of its electricity and sells enough power back to the local grid to meet the needs of an estimated 600 people. The digester also produces clean bedding as a byproduct, which saves the owners from having to buy bedding for the dairy herd. In all, manure from the 570 cow dairy farm creates about 920,000 kWh of electricity a year.
Anaerobic digester technology is a proven method of converting waste products, such as manure, into electricity. The technology utilizes generators that are fueled by methane captured from the animal manure. Solid byproducts of the system are dried and used on the farm as livestock bedding material, and liquid byproducts are used as high-quality organic fertiliser in place of chemical fertilisers.