At times, dairy manure has been portrayed as a pollutant or has gotten a bad rap in the public eye through the media. But in reality, when handled and treated with care, manure can be one of the most important assets a farmer has!
At Clover Hill Dairy, we recycle and reuse our manure through the process of a methane digester. What is a methane digester, you ask? Well, simply put, our manure is held in an underground concrete vessel, where special microbes, or “bugs,” as we like to call them, consume, or “digest,” the leftover starches and fatty acids in the manure. In turn, the bugs burp out methane gas, which we collect and use to fuel generators which produce electricity. At Clover Hill Dairy, we produce enough electricity with our methane digester to meet the needs of 400 homes a day! How cool is that?!
After the manure comes out of the digester vessel, we are able to squeeze the manure to separate the liquid from the solid manure. We then reuse the solid manure as cow bedding, reducing the use of other bedding materials such as sand, straw, and wood shavings. Because the digester is an oxygen free environment, the manure solids are a sterile bedding source.
The process also changes the chemistry of the nitrogen and makes the manure that we spread on our fields much safer for the environment. Talk about a win win!