The Needed Revenue Stream for 21rst Century Farming

Learn More

Biogas –The Needed Revenue Stream for 21st Century Dairy Farming

“Germany, Italy, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (USA). What do they all have in common?”

Unlike much of the world, these regions all maximize the “output” of each cow to maintain profitable operations. This means selling milk but also converting manure into electricity, useful heat and free bedding. In addition, producing a more plant available liquid fertilizer that is both weed seed and pathogen free. (More recently Agricultural Digesters is finding markets for the excess digested solids not used for bedding.)

These farm communities incorporate anaerobic digesters as an “everyday” piece of equipment, the same as a tractor or alley scraper.  It becomes cost efficient for suppliers of parts, technicians and operators to service these regions thus providing local support. 

Standing on the membrane of complete mix digester of American design in Pennsylvania are visitors from Taiwan. Thanks to odor reduction, real estate development continues in background.

While not every farmer we meet purchases a digester, all consider it.

Why not call today?

“Swine manure? Chicken manure? Corn silage? Sugar Beet Pulp? Vegetable waste? Brewery waste? Food Processing Waste? Digesters process all kinds of organic waste.”

Other types of farms and organic waste. 

Agricultural digesters make sense for all types of farms internationally, depending on project goals. For example, some pig farms are in danger of losing heat and if this happens, young stock can die. In this case a digester can be installed without the expense of a combined heat and power (CHP) generator and instead produce reliable heat with a boiler. This boiler helps ensure the survival of the herd.

Other farms are located in regions without reliable electricity. A digester can provide power to the farm and perhaps a nearby business wishing to compete internationally 24/7.

In some regions, governments impose expensive fines on swine, chicken and dairy farms for not managing their manure causing air, water and soil pollution. An anaerobic digester helps eliminate these fines while producing superior fertilizer, electricity and useful heat.

There are major pollution problems with pig manure in eastern Europe and the Russian speaking countries which can be greatly alleviated with a digester. It also provides reliable heat which is critical to the health of young pigs. Photo taken at pig farm with 40,000 animals near Chisinau, Moldova.

Unique, small (100 kW), yet robust, methane digester from PlanET Biogas. Agricultural Digesters LLC is a certified representative for this new system. It is affordable, requires limited maintenance and can provide significant income for farms of 300 – 650 adult cows.

“We can’t get much money for renewable electricity in my region…”

Going off grid.

A smaller, cost efficient, digester recently entered the market. PlanET Biogas makes a robust 75kw-100kW model ideal for farms with 300-650 (or more) adult cows that Agricultural Digesters is authorized to sell and develop. If the region where you live pays too little for electricity, why not just make your own? By going “off grid”, a small to mid-size American farm can offset its typical $30,000 to $90,000 annual bill. Electricity costing many farmers more than 15 cents/kW.

Going off-grid

“We can’t get much payment from the local utility for renewable electricity in my region…”

Cost efficient, smaller digesters have recently entered the market. PlanET Biogas makes a robust 75kw-100kW model ideal for farms with 300-650 (or more) adult cows that Agricultural Digesters is authorized to sell.

If the region where you live pays too little for renewable electricity, why not just make your own? By going “off grid”, a small to mid-size American farm can offset its typical $30,000 to $90,000 annual bill.

“Can we borrow your manure?”

Farms can have a digester for no “own” money.

Agricultural Digesters LLC has investors interested in building methane biogas systems. This means we will build and operate a biogas system while partnering and sharing the financial benefits with the farm. A future buyout can be included in the agreement.

The percentage share for the farm will depend on its contribution. Government grants and carbon credit construction advances, along with the manure itself, are considered investment from the farmer.

Manure digester in USA for 1,400 cows, German design.

“Will it work? I heard horror stories!”

Anaerobic digestion is proven technology. 

If you are in a geographically isolated region, you probably are not familiar with the proven international digester brands. American and European companies that have built hundreds of successful agricultural digesters. We know them and can find the one best suited to your unique situation.

Sometimes engineers and entrepreneurs think they can create their own working digester for less. What they don’t consider is that the proven digester companies have decades of experience understanding not only technology but also the behavior of various feedstocks (e.g. cow, pig and chicken manure as well as corn silage, sugar beet pulp, brewery and food processing waste). They also have seen every conceivable problem and developed solutions that keep digesters operating for decades.

This of course is also important to investors and bankers who want the farm to use proven suppliers.

Anaerobic Digestion is Proven Technology

“Will it work? I heard horror stories.”

If you are in a geographically isolated region, you probably are not familiar with the proven international digester brands. American and European companies that have built hundreds of successful agricultural digesters. We know them and can find the one best suited to your unique situation.

Sometimes engineers and entrepreneurs think they can create their own working digester for less. What they don’t consider is that the proven digester companies have decades of experience understanding not only technology but also the behavior of various feedstocks (e.g. cow, pig and chicken manure as well as corn silage, sugar beet pulp, brewery and food processing waste). They also have seen every conceivable problem and developed solutions that keep digesters operating for decades.

In addition, it takes financing to pay for a digester and bankers want proven suppliers.

Manure digester in USA for 1,400 cows, It is a German above ground, complete mix, design.

“I’ve heard of farmers up at 3 AM with their digester. Seems like there is always some problem that needs to be dealt with.”

Do you want to be a farmer or a digester operator?  

Inevitably, challenges occur with a digester that is fed different organics from various sources, in varying amounts, at different times. This does not happen to the farmer who uses consistent waste from his own farm. For example, a manure digester processing cow or pig waste. Another sure way to limit supervision time is to co-digest a small percentage of the same off-farm substrate, such as brewery waste, in consistent quantities, on a regular basis.

This is not to say that co-digesting multiple feedstocks is always a bad idea. Such a biogas system can attract tipping fees from food waste haulers and become much more profitable than a basic manure digester. However, a digester with changing feedstocks requires an experienced operator and the farmer must decide if that person should be himself/herself or a well paid professional.

While Vermont farmers listen carefully, Canadian farmers describe the major financial benefits, but also the significant time required, to operate large, mixed waste biogas systems. In contrast, a smaller, largely manure digester can be managed much more easily.

A solids separator processing digestate from the anaerobic digester at a Vermont farm. Odor and pathogen free, it provides more then enough free, fresh, quality animal bedding. An offset to the farm of tens of thousands of dollars annually.

“My cows love sand and I will never switch!”

Are digested solids as good as sand bedding? 

Bedding on sand is understandable. Respected institutions such as Cornell University feel sand is best. But farms should also weigh the additional “cow comfort” that can be purchased when all electricity and bedding costs are eliminated/offset by a digester. For example, more workers can be hired and feed quality improved.

In addition, the latest techniques make it possible to bed cows on sand, without damaging digesters. For those dairy farms, the best of both worlds?

Are “digested bedding solids” from anaerobic digesters as good as sand bedding?

“My cows love sand and I will never switch!”

This is an understandable position. Respected institutions such as Cornell University feel sand is best.
But farms should also weigh the additional “cow comfort” that can be purchased once all electricity and bedding costs are eliminated/offset by a digester. For example, more and better workers can be hired and feed quality improved.

In addition, the latest techniques may make it possible to bed cows on sand, without damaging some digesters. For those dairy farms, the best of both worlds.

A solids separator processing digestate from the agricultural digester at a Vermont farm. Odor and pathogen free, it provides more then enough free, fresh, high quality animal bedding. An offset to the farm of tens of thousands of dollars annually.

“When spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new home, wouldn’t you go to the best agent you could find? It is the same with an anaerobic digester.”

How to choose the right digester for your unique farm. 

You want the size and model digester that is “just right” for your unique farm. There are a few proven biogas technology suppliers to choose from and that means you need a knowledgeable consultant, facilitator or developer. This is specially true in the USA where only 250 farm digesters are in operation as opposed to perhaps 15,000 in western and central Europe.

Agricultural Digesters LLC provides many years of American and International biogas marketing, grant acquisition and development experience. Also, deep knowledge of the energy and financial value of digester input (organic wastes) and output (digestate).

We are also developing exciting new markets for excess solids that will increase the return on investment for each farm.

Farm near Middlebury, Vermont considering the option of partnering with Agricultural Digesters. Benefts will be shared, and the farm has buyout option in the future.

“Are there grants and incentives to reduce the cost?” ​

Financial assistance and incentives. 

In the USA there are grants from federal and state governments that vary from state to state. Private companies seeking to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), or offset the gases their own operations create, may provide farmers in the USA and around the world partial funding for digester construction. Some countries offer a generous “green tariff” (price) for renewable electricity and renewable natural gas.

Of course in many countries there are also the financial “incentives” of improving manure management and avoiding government fines.

Financial assistance and incentives

“Are there grants and incentives to reduce the cost?”

In the USA there are grants from federal and state governments which vary from state to state. Private companies seeking to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), or offset the gases their own operations create, may provide farmers in the USA and around the world partial funding for digester construction. Some countries offer a generous “green tariff” (price) for renewable electricity and renewable natural gas.

Of course in many countries there is also the financial “incentive” of improving manure management and avoiding government fines.