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Anaerobic Digesters are Profitable for US Livestock Farms


2-farmerryanroInstalling biogas recovery systems in US livestock farms is not only economically profitable, but also helps reducing of greenhouse gas emissions and underground water pollution.

Livestock farms have always had that bad reputation when it comes to climate change and emissions. Every step along the way, from feeding and growing the animals, to putting them on people’s plates, is heavily criticized by researchers, independent NGOs, environmentalists, and even the government.

Numerous appeals have circulated the net over the years, all sending the message that we should all cut down, or completely eliminate meat products from our diets, because it is bad for climate change. But while some of us already have, others simply cannot wave goodbye to that burger.


So yes, livestock farms are still growing strong, and will continue to do so. However, this does not have to necessarily be a bad thing for the environment (and the neighbors’ noses). A farm in Plymouth, Indiana, have demonstrated exactly how it should be done, and even made a profit by adopting the eco-friendly approach- here is how.

The owner of the Homestead farm, Floyd Houin, has installed a biogas recovery system, a.k.a. anaerobic digester, which converts manure into electricity. Initially he thought he would do it to minimize the smell, but it turned out, it brought way more benefits, including financial ones.

The biogas recovery system generates enough electricity to power 1,000 homes. This power is bought by the local utility company, bringing that ever-so-wanted additional profit to the farm.

But besides the financial benefits, the anaerobic digester replaced the typical open lagoon, where the manure was previously stored. This in turn reduced drastically the methane and carbon dioxide emissions, and eliminated the risk of leaks into the groundwater. And of course, it fulfilled its purpose to minimize the smell, therefore making all neighbors very happy.

Now, looking at the big picture, US livestock farms that have installed anaerobic digesters (247 in total, including Homestead farm), have contributed to a major reduction of three million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to removing 630,000 cars from the road), only for last year, according to a report by EPA. The same report points out that there are just over 8000 livestock farms across the US, which can install digesters. If they choose to do so, they will reduce the emissions by an amount equivalent to removing more than one million cars from the road, and could generate power for over a million homes.

Why haven’t all farmers chosen the eco-friendly approach?!

And here is a little reminder of how to build your own biogas plant.

Image (c) Homestead Dairy, Plymouth

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