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More than 200 dairies run manure digesters

Maggie Gilles, Kansas Dairy Farmer

August 19, 2021

As knowledge surrounding greenhouse gas emissions continues to grow, those in agriculture have identified manure digesters as part of the solution. This technology carries a two-fold benefit of reducing gas emission from manure storage and creating usable renewable natural gas.

“By my numbers, there are actually about 330 digesters in the country and about 233 of those are on dairy farms. The rest of them are either servicing pigs or poultry,” shared the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mark Stephenson during the August 18 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream.

More digesters to come

While 233 active manure digesters on dairies remains just a sliver of the dairy farm market, Newtrient LLC calculates that another 50 installations are underway.

“Digesters are generating biogas from almost 200,000 dairy cows in this country right now,” Stephenson elaborated. “The total biogas that’s generated is roughly 25 million cubic feet of gas per day. If all of that made it to the pipeline, it would be enough to supply about 150,000 homes with all their natural gas needs.”

While substantial that leaves plenty of opportunity on the table both for dairy farmers and energy markets.

“When you think about it, 200,000 cows whose biogas we’re capturing is only about 2% of the dairy cows in this country,” concluded Stephenson. “Obviously, we’ll never get to 100%, but I think there’s room for a lot more digesters and a lot more opportunity to think about this biogas in the pipeline.”


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