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Monday, March 22, 2010

Grant will help develop small-farm manure digester

From an article by Chris Hubbuch in the La Crosse Tribune:

Wisconsin farmers have long known there’s money in manure, but extracting power was an option only for the biggest herds.

The state’s secretary of agriculture announced a $200,000 grant Friday to help a Tomah manufacturer develop a manure digester that could help small farms turn waste into electricity.

Though Wisconsin leads the nation in the agricultural use of anaerobic digesters, current technology — which requires on-site construction of concrete or steel structures — is best suited to farms with at least 1,000 animals.

USEMCO has developed a tank that makes it economical for farms with as few as 100 cows. The first model, which at peak production should generate enough electricity to power about 45 homes, will be tested on a 150-cow Chaseburg dairy.

Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Rod Nilsestuen said small-farm digesters could bolster the state’s manufacturing and agriculture industries while promoting clean energy.

If the test is successful, USEMCO president Pat Rezin expects the demand for digesters could mean 15 to 20 new jobs and an addition to his Tomah plant.

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