Can dairy methane digesters be widely adopted?

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Can dairy methane digesters be widely adopted?

Tim Hammerich
Journalist

This is Tim Hammerich from the Ag Information Network with your Farm of the Future report.

A growing number of dairies in the United States are adding methane digesters to their operations to turn manure into renewable natural gas. High Plains Ponderosa Dairy has partnered with Shell Oil for its digester, and CEO Greg Bethard says it really is an exciting opportunity.

Bethard… “The manure from our dairy when we put it in our lagoon, it was already producing methane. And the methane was leaving our lagoon and going back up into the atmosphere. And now, instead of doing that, we’re essentially scavenging that methane and propelling a vehicle before the carbon makes its eventual journey through the atmosphere.

But not all dairies will be equally well positioned for digesters depending on their size and location.

Bethard… “The market value of this gas right now is primarily California. So, you know, when you get to the east coast and you’re further out. And then these projects require a certain size and scope of the dairy. Thus, a very small dairy would not have enough manure to justify the investment in a digester.

But Bethard sees more and more opportunities for this technology in the future.

Bethard… “Over time, programs that monetize the carbon value of the methane you produce like the ones that are prevalent across the country, I think more and more dairies are going to have an opportunity.”

Bethard sees more states following California’s lead in developing incentives for renewable energy.

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