One dairy farm in the Finger Lakes is recycling and producing energy with their cows. Terry Ettinger tells us more.
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These particular cows are producing milk and at the same time, they're producing electricity, fertilizer, and their own bedding using a methane digester.
"We're generating 225 kilowatts per hour. We generate enough electricity to power approximately 170 average U.S. homes per year," explained Steve McGlynn, Twin Birch Dairy Business Manager.
Except for the hottest months of the year, they produce enough electrical power for the Twin Birch Dairy Farm, and often times have some left over.
"We've had the digester for eight years. We were one of the first in the area to have a digester. We've learned a lot and there's more to learn about how to make it more efficient," noted McGlynn.
The manure from their 1,100 milking cows is collected and pumped into an airtight concrete vessel, where bacteria separates the methane gas. The gas is used to power the generator, and produces electricity.
McGlynn explained, "After the manure is digested for 21 days at 100 degrees, we separate the solids from the liquids. The solids we use as bedding for the cows, really recycling full-throttle here."
Meanwhile, the liquid is pumped out into their 2,500 acres of farmland and used as fertilizer, which makes the process even more cost effective.
"I tell folks approximately 700 to 800 lactating cows, that's cows giving milk, is realistic in terms of feasible," said McGlynn. "We also receive grants from New York State. With those grants it is possible to get a return on the investment."