York workshop touts methane digesters for livestock lots

Many Nebraska livestock producers are attending a workshop today in York to learn about installing methane digesters at their operations. Joe Francis, assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, says digesters are used to capture methane gas from livestock manure and use it to make electricity.

Francis says the process offers several pluses, including reducing odor, cutting costs and preserving the environment. He says, “Methane digesters are an important component in the control of greenhouse gases and it’s one of the biggest benefits that can be derived from them.”

With the disappearance of small hog and cattle lots and the proliferation of much larger livestock operations, the vile odor from giant manure lagoons has become a battleground issue. Francis says this relatively simple technology can solve most of that problem.

“One of the really huge benefits of a methane digester is the reduction in odors and the subsequent associated increase in quality of life,” Francis says. “They really do knock down the odors from facilities by as much as 90-percent.” He says many livestock operations that have methane digesters in use are able to eliminate their electric bills entirely, while getting bonus checks in the mail from the utility company.

Francis says, “The common method now is to capture that methane, burn it and generate electricity on-site. That electricity then can either be fed to the facility itself or put out on the transmission lines.” There are other alternatives too, including capturing the gas and moving it off-site for sale or keeping it on-site for use in a boiler for heat or other purposes. The workshop is at the Holiday Inn in York.

For more information, visit the EPA website at: “www.epa.gov/agstar/workshops.html” or call (402) 471-6974.