Digester makes dairy farm super sustainable…

Digester makes dairy farm super sustainable; manure and food waste yield heat, electricity, fertilizer and bedding

Recorder Staff
Friday, January 13, 2017

photo by: Paul Franz

DEERFIELD — The 500 Holstein cows chewing in the Bar-Way Farms barn don’t seem to notice, but something exciting is happening with their manure.

And when spring arrives, farmer Peter Melnick says, he’ll be thrilled to be spreading a liquid fertilizer from the new $5 million electricity- and heat-producing waste digester that’s getting ready for operation. It still needs to be connected to the electric grid and needs to start receiving food waste shipments, but the “bugs” are already at work generating methane gas that will fuel a 1-megawatt electricity generator and heat the farm.

The 700,000-gallon oval-shaped concrete tank, only the top 11 feet of which is visible above ground behind the barn off Mill Village Road, is three-quarters full with manure that the farm has been saving up, awaiting the arrival of the first delivery of food waste by month’s end. The food waste fuel that will supplement the farm manure is the result of the state’s ban on large-scale commercial organic waste at landfills.

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