Iowa livestock producers are encouraged to consider what’s described as a win-win prospect for their operations — installing a methane digester. Joe Francis is an expert on the contraptions which capture methane gas from livestock manure and use it to make electricity.
Francis says the process offers several pluses, including reducing odor, cutting costs and preserving the environment. Francis says, "Methane digesters are an important component in the control of greenhouse gases and it’s one of the biggest benefits that can be derived from them."
With the disappearance of small hog and cattle lots and the proliferation of much larger livestock operations, the vile odor from giant manure lagoons has become a battleground issue. Francis says this relatively simple technology can solve most of that problem.
"One of the really huge benefits of a methane digester is the reduction in odors and the subsequent associated increase in quality of life," Francis says. "They really do knock down the odors from facilities by as much as 90-percent." He says many livestock operations that have methane digesters in use are able to eliminate their electric bills entirely, while getting bonus checks in the mail from the utility company.
Francis says, "The common method now is to capture that methane, burn it and generate electricity on-site. That electricity then can either be fed to the facility itself or put out on the transmission lines." There are other alternatives too, including capturing the gas and moving it off-site for sale or keeping it on-site for use in a boiler for heat or other purposes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is offering several workshops in surrounding states in the coming weeks about methane digesters and other ways to make money from waste while cutting odors and boosting environmental performance. For more information, visit the EPA website .