Anaerobic Digestion
September 18, 2017, Madison, WI – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) approved a conditional $15 million Focus on Energy grant to BC Organics, LLC for an innovative bioenergy system in Brown County.

The system will produce renewable natural gas from dairy farm manure and other waste. The project will reduce the need to land-spread raw manure, protect sensitive groundwater and surface waters in northeastern Wisconsin, and provide positive economic benefits to participating farms.

At the direction of Governor Walker, the PSC, Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collaborated to develop a request for proposals (RFP) on innovative anaerobic digester systems that could produce renewable energy, remove nutrients from manure, protect water quality, and reduce pathogens.

BC Organics was recommended unanimously by the evaluation team comprised of expert staff from the PSC, DNR, DATCP, UW-Madison and Focus on Energy. BC Organics must obtain all of the necessary state and local regulatory approvals before construction may begin and includes an odor control plan designed to minimize impacts to neighboring landowners.

The consortium consists of 24 members led by Wisconsin-based Dynamic Concepts (Waukesha), along with WEC Energy Group (Milwaukee), US Biogas LLC (Plymouth), and BioStar Organics, among other Wisconsin based firms. The project’s proposed location is northeast of Holland, near Green Bay, is co-located with a proposed landfill owned by Brown County.

It has commitments from nine Wisconsin farms with over 22,000 animal units, with the capability to expand to include additional farms in the future. The facility is expected to begin operations by January 1, 2019. The project will employee up to 20 full-time employees.

The project involves the construction of multiple anaerobic digesters with capability to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure and food waste, and eventually landfill gas. The estimated energy output of 5.7 million therms is equivalent to the home heating needs for 7,600 Wisconsin homes. The RNG will be injected into the interstate natural gas pipeline system for use as a heating and transportation fuel. 

The project will improve water quality in surface and groundwater in Brown, Kewaunee, Calumet, and Door counties using advanced nutrient separation technologies to treat the wastewater and produce other beneficial by-products including, bedding for cattle, liquid fertilizer, and dry solids that can be converted to fertilizer or used as feedstock for a renewable electric generation facility. When fully operational the project will remove 577,837 pounds of phosphorus and generate 163 million gallons of clean water annually. 

Wisconsin continues to lead the U.S. in on-farm digesters. BC Organics provides an innovative approach that could provide a model for eliminating the need to spread raw manure on the land and provides a framework that could be replicated in other parts of the state to improve environmental outcomes for the livestock industry. Specifically, it will help farmers reduce the water quality impacts of dairy farming in the karst region of northeastern Wisconsin by: reducing or eliminating the need to spread manure and overtopping lagoons; removing phosphorus from the waste stream; improving the efficiency of uptake of nutrients by plants; and virtually eliminating the pathogens in treated manure.
August 28, 2017, Haverhill, MA — It is going to decrease the smells emanating from a Bradford farm. It is going to improve the fertilizer needed to grow hay and corn.

It will also provide enough energy to light up as many as 600 homes.

An anaerobic digester — a structure that converts methane gas from cow manure and food waste into electricity — is coming to a two-acre plot of land on a hill atop Crescent Farm on Willow Avenue in Bradford.

The farm's owners, the Davidowicz family, are hoping that construction of the digester — which will be managed by Vanguard Renewables of Wellesley — will begin this fall and that it will be up and running next year.

"We're going to start building it in October or November and it should be running by March or April," said Cody Davidowicz, the oldest son of the farm's owners, Michael and Debbie Davidowicz. Cody Davidowicz will be operating the digester.

In May, the city inked a deal with Vanguard to purchase power generated by the digester for 13 cents a kilowatt hour, and estimates it will save the city as much as $300,000. READ MORE
July 27, 2017, California - A liquid organic biofertilizer made from the material that is left over after manure or food waste is digested to create clean electricity compares favorably in nutrient value with commonly used synthetic materials in trials on canning tomatoes and corn.

UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering Ruihong Zhang designed an anaerobic biodigester nearly 10 years ago that is used to turn food waste from campus dining halls into clean energy.

Several dairies have also invested in digesters to treat their manure, which would otherwise emit the greenhouse gas methane, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture offers grants to help defray the cost.

Cost is the major stumbling block to more widespread use of the technology, and the trial of a biofertilizer made in the campus digester is an attempt to see if the bottom line can be made just a little more favorable. READ MORE
July 25, 2017, Canyon County, ID - A group of businessmen, mostly from the Treasure Valley, is proposing to build a $94 million plant in rural Canyon County to turn sorghum into paper plates and other food-packaging products, and to turn sorghum waste, manure and slaughterhouse waste into natural gas for energy.

The plant would be built on farmland where U.S. 26 meets U.S. 95 southeast of Parma. It has cleared several local zoning and permitting challenges. Now comes the hard part: raising money to build it, starting with $18 million for a first phase.

The group has formed a company called Treasure Valley Renewables. Its members include people with experience in manufacturing, ethanol plants, pulping mills and anaerobic (oxygen-free bacterial) digester operations.

The three-building plant would house about 75 jobs paying an average of $45,000 per year, says Chuck Anderson, a leader of the ownership group. Anderson is president of Boise Bio Gas and owner of QBM Management in Boise, a project-management and process-analysis company.

One part of the plant would turn sorghum into fiber molds Anderson says would make a biodegradable material for producers looking to replace Styrofoam food packaging material.

Neither product offers the kind of instant riches that venture capitalists usually target when they invest millions into technology companies, Anderson says. But Anderson, who has spent a career engineering paper plants for large companies, says he's confident the plant promises the kind of steady profits to attract investors. READ MORE 
June 14, 2017, Deerfield, Mass. - Peter Melnik, a fourth generation dairy farmer from Deerfield, Massachusetts, is a firm believer a farm should be economically and environmentally sustainable. This belief started him on a 10-year search for a way to make an anaerobic digester work on his farm.

"At first I thought I could build a small digester to produce enough electricity for my farm," Melnick said. "Then the concept of food waste was introduced to me and the story just grows from there."

The recent announcement of an alliance between Dairy Farmers of America and Vanguard Renewables, a Massachusetts-based renewable energy developer, was the missing piece of the puzzle for Melnik. READ MORE
May 24, 2017, Granville, Mass. – The Town of Granville could soon be using cattle to create energy.

The town's select board plans to power their municipal buildings with credits from Rockwood Farm, which is planning to build a methane digestor.

A digestor converts manure into methane gas, which will run a generator that will heat and power the farm. The farm will sell its metering credits to the town.

The local renewable energy would reduce the cost for powering town buildings. READ MORE
May 23, 2017, Potsdam, NY – Clarkson University will use federal funding to advance anaerobic digestion techniques for small-to-medium-scale dairy farmers.

The university will work in conjunction with the Cornell Cooperative Extension farm dairy specialists on farms working to improve manure management.

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand recently announced $500,000 in new federal funding for Clarkson University.

The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

NIFA grants support research and programs that help dairy producers and growers achieve long-term viability, high yield, and labor efficient production of local agricultural products. READ MORE
May 19, 2017, Waunakee, WI - Once infamous for spills, permit violations and even an explosion, the manure digester just north of Waunakee is now receiving accolades from an environmental group dedicated to clean lakes.

The Clean Lakes Alliance presented Clean Fuel Partners, LLC, the digester operator, with the Lumley Leadership Award for Lake Stewardship for its efforts to reduce phosphorus entering the Yahara Watershed.

"We were completely surprised and caught off guard when we were announced," said Clean Fuel CEO John Haeckel. "I would like to think it's because we have been working to make the Waunakee facility work, to sort of resurrect it from a place where it wasn't successful."

The manure digester was originally built in partnership with Dane County and operated by a different company, Clear Horizons, with the intention of removing algae-causing phosphorus from three area farms that would otherwise flow into lakes and streams.

The digester also captures methane in the process to produce energy. READ MORE
May 9, 2017, Sacramento, Cali. - The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for project funding from the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP), authorized by the Budget Act of 2016.

This program receives funding from California Climate Investments Program, with proceeds from the state's cap-and-trade auctions, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing a variety of additional benefits to California communities.

CDFA-DDRDP will award between $29 million and $36 million for the installation of dairy digesters in California that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Existing milk producers and dairy digester developers can apply for funding of up to $3 million per project for anaerobic digestion projects that provide quantifiable greenhouse gas reductions. The program requires a minimum of 50 percent of total project cost as matching funds.

Prospective applicants must access the "Request for Applications" at for detailed information on eligibility and program requirements.

To streamline and expedite the application process, CDFA is partnering with the State Water Resources Control Board, which hosts an online application tool, Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST).

All prospective applicants must register for a FAAST account at

Applications and all supporting information must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. PT.

CDFA will hold two workshops and one webinar to provide information on program requirements and the FAAST application process (see below). CDFA staff will provide guidance on the application process, provide several examples and answer any questions. There is no cost to attend the workshops. Individuals planning to attend should email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with his or her contact information, number of seats required and the workshop location.

Sacramento – Friday, May 12, 2017
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
California Department of Food and Agriculture
2800 Gateway Oaks Drive, Room 101
Sacramento, CA 95833

Tulare – Monday, May 15, 2017
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Tulare County Agricultural Building Auditorium
4437 S. Laspina Street
Tulare, CA 93274

Webinar – Tuesday, May 16, 2017
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
To register for the webinar, please visit the program webpage at

Prospective applicants may contact CDFA's Grants Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with general program questions.

May 3, 2017 - The AgSTAR Program will be hosting, Part two of the Innovative Business Models for Anaerobic Digestion webinar series.

The Webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 from 2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern Time.

Industry leaders from Noblehurst Farms Inc., EnviTec Biogas, and DVO, Inc. will review innovative business models for anaerobic digestion (AD) projects and discuss the hub-and-spoke model of hauling manure from several farms to a centralized digester, how to establish successful business arrangements with food waste producers, sustainable production of renewable energy and coproducts using AD and how AD project risks and benefits can be shared among multiple parties.

The webinar will include a question-and-answer session and participants will be encouraged to ask questions. Participation in the webinar is free. To register, visit:
May 1, 2017 Oshkosh, WI – This June, we're launching our hands-on Digester Operator Training Course at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh from June 13-15.

This is a must-attend event for any operator, owner, developer or anyone looking for hands-on digester operations experience. Attendees will have the opportunity learn from top digester operators to learn how to increase biogas production, digestate quality, revenue and avoid costly, time-consuming and smelly mistakes.

Over three days, digester operations experts from the American Biogas Council and UW-Oshkosh will start the morning with you in the classroom and ERIC lab to review topics from operations basics and safety to advanced topics like lab testing and operation software and remote monitoring. Then, we'll head to a digester to spend half or more of each day working with the operations team, turning valves, collecting samples and troubleshooting issues. We'll have three different types of digesters for you to experience – continuous mix, dry fermentation and plug flow.

Sign up before the class fills up.

Many would say that solids are the most critical component to handle in a digester, but water is a critical factor as well, logistically and financially.

April 13, 2017, Haverhill, MA — The city's board of health has approved a waste-to-energy digester for farm in Bradford.

April 4, 2016, Chilton, WI – DVO, Inc.’s Phosphorus Recovery system received honors at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Nutrient Recycling Challenge Summit in Washington, DC.

The goal of the challenge was to identify technologies that not only help farmers manage nutrients from livestock manure and create valuable products, but also protect the environment.

“We are honored to be recognized for our innovative phosphorus recovery technology,” said DVO president, Steve Dvorak. “The practical ability to recover and recycle nutrients will make modern agriculture more sustainable and provide real benefits for our communities and the environment.”

The Nutrient Recycling Challenge was launched by the EPA in late 2015 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pork and dairy producers, and environmental and scientific experts. The EPA initially received 75 concept papers and recognized the top 10 submissions with awards. DVO received a spot in the top 10 with an Honorable Mention Award for its work on advanced phosphorus recovery.

DVO’s Phosphorus Recovery (PR) system is a fully commercialized and economical treatment process that removes up to 95 percent of the total phosphorus from large-scale farm and commercial waste streams and up to 55 percent of total nitrogen content from digested wastes. By treating these wastes first in DVO’s patented Two-Stage Mixed Plug Flow anaerobic digester and then employing the add-on PR system, valuable nutrients are conserved and natural resources are protected by reducing the likelihood of runoff and water pollution.

Doug VanOrnum, vice president of technology and strategy at DVO, accepted the award at a ceremony at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC on March 30.

More information on the challenge can be found at


In 2013, the Canadian Biogas Association issued a study identifying the opportunities in biogas production so provinces could develop policies to support this budding industry. It also developed farm-to-fuel guides to help farmers decide whether biogas production makes sense for them.

The study determined biogas could make up three percent of Canada’s natural gas supply, Canadian Biogas Association executive director Jennifer Green told the 2016 Agricultural and Municipal Biogas Forum, held recently in Abbotsford, B.C.

She calls biogas an “overwhelming” opportunity for agriculture, saying agriculture could produce about two-thirds of the biogas, or about 1.65 million cubic meters per year.

While there are a growing number of anaerobic digesters on Ontario farms, there are only three in B.C., with one more under construction. The province’s first anaerobic digester began operation in rural Abbotsford about five years ago and is now producing gas from cull potatoes and other organic waste. Not long after, as part of its demonstration farm, Bakerview Dairy in Abbotsford put in a demonstration digester that utilizes manure from its tiny 50-cow herd to produce electricity for the farm.

In early 2015, Seabreeze Farms in Delta fired up B.C.’s second large-scale digester, using manure from its 350 milking cowherd and cooking fats and oils.

While one purpose of an anaerobic digester is to manage and create value from farm waste, it produces its own waste (digestate). The digestate includes most of the nutrients from the inputs, as they are not absorbed by the gas production process. This is a concern for both regulators and farmers as high livestock concentrations are already leading to nutrient overloading on many fields. Bringing in off-farm inputs only exacerbates the issue, leading to potentially serious environmental consequences.

As a result, the digester “is only one piece of the equation,” says Chris Bush, who built the Sumas Prairie anaerobic digester, located outside of Abbotsford.

That’s why researchers and industry are working on ways to manage the nutrients, particularly phosphate, to maximize their value while minimizing any detrimental environmental impacts.

There are a number of ways to do that, says Henno Haaring of Dorset Green Machines, based in the Netherlands. The first step is to separate the liquid and solid digestate so each can be applied separately or, in the case of the liquid, re-circulated. Cheapest is a press screen, which provides good dry matter content in the solids but has poor nutrient recovery. Another low cost option, a drum filter, provides good phosphate recovery but is not very efficient, has highly variable results and requires a lot of filter maintenance.

A decanter has high phosphate recovery and leaves little dry matter in the liquid but is expensive to buy and costly to operate.

A belt press is very good at separating solids and liquids, removing enough dry matter to make the liquid treatable by filtration or reverse osmosis. However, it requires additives and a knowledgeable operator.

Haaring says Dorset’s solution is to dry the digestate, which not only reduces the volume but creates a good final product.

“We generate a product with 85 to 95 percent dry matter that is 10 to 25 percent of its original weight,” he says. Its nutrient content depends on whether the drying is done with or without first separating the digestate.

“The dry product can be used as fertilizer, bedding or even fuel,” Haaring says.

One of Dorset’s installations dries 100,000 tonnes of hog manure, producing 25,000 tonnes of solids. The solids go into a “phosphate factory” which further compresses them into 6,500 tonnes of pellets with a nutrient content of 2.1 percent N, 6.5 percent P and 1.5 percent K. The pellets are then exported from the intensive hog production area in the Netherlands to the north of France.

Trident Processes of Abbotsford has integrated some of these technologies with ideas of their own to develop a complete nutrient recovery system, which it is now being tested at Seabreeze.

The system first separates the fiber and conditions it for reuse as bedding in the barns, leaving four percent solids in the remaining wastewater. A second press removes most of the remaining water, creating a “sludge” with double the solids content and 85 to 90 percent of the phosphate, 54 percent of the nitrogen and 17 percent of the potassium, says Bush, now Trident’s operating manager. It then uses polymers to concentrate the sludge, complete with its nutrients, into a “cake” which contains 25 percent solids.

The cake can be pelletized and sold off-farm as a nutrient-rich fertilizer. The remaining wastewater, which Langley environmental farm plan advisor and consultant Dave Melnychuk calls a “digestate tea,” contains very few nutrients.

The Seabreeze dairy slurry generally contains 0.25 percent nitrogen, 0.05 percent phosphorus and 0.21 percent potassium. Once through the Trident process, the tea contains 0.16 percent N, less than 0.01 percent P and 0.12 percent K. In contrast, the bedding contains 0.40 percent N, 0.13 percent P and 0.11 percent K while the cake contains 0.68 percent N, 0.22 percent P and 0.12 percent K.

Melnychuk believes the tea offers tremendous potential as it still includes some nitrogen but almost no phosphorus.

Noting many farmers “have too much phosphorus but not enough nitrogen in their fields,” Melnychuk has started a
three-year trial to find out how corn and grass respond to the tea. Even a low application rate produced a wet yield of 29 tonnes/hectare, higher than the 25 to 28 tonne average in B.C. fields.

“We are very pleased with the initial results,” Melnychuk says. He notes there was less phosphorus in both the corn and grass fields at the end of the season than at the beginning. “If we can validate that for the next two years, it provides an option for phosphate rich soils.”

University of B.C. civil engineering professor Victor Lo is trying a different approach: treating the manure before it even gets to the digester. He has spent the past few years developing a microwave-enhanced advanced oxidation system to reduce solids in the manure by 85 percent and extract the phosphorus and crystallize it as struvite, which is 95 percent pure phosphorus.

Lo says nutrients can be captured more easily when the solids are broken down and microwave technology is the only way to do that. The system “reduces the amount of disposable solids and number of nutrients which need to be applied to the land.”

Lo says the resulting largely liquid product “reduces the processing time in the AD.”

He is now building demonstration units and conducting feasibility studies at both the UBC Dairy Education & Research Centre in Agassiz, B.C., and the James Wastewater Treatment Program in Abbotsford

Although the system may not be a money-maker because of its high capital and operating costs, Lo believes it could solve some of the environmental issues farmers and waste treatment plants face.




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