METHANE DIGESTER

HOW AGRICULTURE CONTRIBUTES

TO CLIMATE CHANGE

 

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The single largest source of pollution in the State of California is methane from cows.  At Albert Straus’s family dairy in Marshall, California, a methane digester traps methane before it can enter the atmosphere, breaking it down into solids and liquid fuel that can be used to provide enough electrical power to run the entire dairy operation.

Methane Digester
26 August 2009
Straus Family Creamery
Marshall, CA

METHANE DIGESTER

A system which captures naturally occurring gas from cow manure and converts it into electricity.

WHAT THE DIGESTER DOES (IN 30-40 DAYS)
1. saves money by generating 300,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year
2. eliminates a greenhouse gas 23 times more damaging than CO₂
3. converts nitrogen into a more usable form for plants
4. cuts down on the odor and flies around the farm

HOW IT WORKS

1. barn slurry, silage runoff, and creamery waste flow into the slurry pit¹
2. this mixture is pumped into a device² which separates the manure’s solids and liquids
3. the liquid flows by gravity into the digester pond³
4. anaerobic digestion = bacteria digest the waste and give off methane gas
5.  the methane gas fuels a generator that offsets the farm’s energy use by 90%
6. heat captured from the engine makes hot water used to wash equipment in the milking barn

OTHER RELATED TERMS

Methane
A greenhouse gas produced by cow flatulence and defecation which pollutes the environment.
 
Carbon Farming
The goal behind agricultural carbon removal is to use a crop and its relation to the carbon cycle to permanently sequester carbon within the soil. This is achieved by choosing farming methods that return biomass to the soil and and foster conditions which will allow it to be stored in a stable state.
 
Organic Dairy
Through organic ranching practices, farmers ensure their cows are free of pesticide residues, growth hormones and antibiotics (like rBGH and rBST) meaning their milk is free of these contaminants as well. Bovine growth hormone has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers.
 
Growth Promotant
A small pellet that is implanted under the skin on the back of an animal’s ear. The pellet releases amounts of hormone and then dissolves when the treatment is finished. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a “withdrawal” period between when the animal is treated and when it can go to a meat packing plant.
 
rBST
Bovine somatotropin (BST or BGH) is a chain of amino acids produced by a cow’s pituitary gland. As with other hormones, it is produced in small quantities and is used in regulating metabolic processes. Since 1994 it has been synthesized by using recombinant DNA technology to create recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). The United States is the only developed nation to permit humans to drink milk from cows that have been treated with this artificial growth hormone. It was banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all European Union countries by 2000 or earlier.

 

ABOUT ALBERT STRAUS

Albert Straus’ father started this farm in 1941 and the two became partners in 1977.  By 1994 the Straus Family Creamery had become the first certified organic dairy and creamery west of the Mississippi.

 

ADDITIONAL WEBSITES OF INTEREST

Straus Family Creamery

Simple Setup for a Methane Digester

Introduction into Organic Dairy Farming

site by Lyra Designs

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