Largest dairy in Wisconsin begins digester project
By Manure Manager
By Manure Manager
Sept. 5, 2013 – There’s a bright, green future ahead for Rosendale Dairy and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh – renewable energy production, firsthand learning opportunities, and sustainable farming practices have united.
Rosendale Dairy, Wisconsin’s largest dairy operation, broke ground on the construction of a 1.4 megawatt renewable energy biodigester this past summer. The project includes not only utilizing manure from the dairy’s 8,500 cows to make biogas, but also the creation of a public education center and a research laboratory for UW-Oshkosh students and staff.
The $7 million digester is expected to process 240 tons of manure a day, producing 1.4 megawatts of electricity –that’s enough energy to power 1,200 homes. The facilities are a continuation of a unique partnership begun in 2011 between BIOFerm Energy Systems, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UWO), and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Foundation. The collaboration allows for the state’s largest dairy to forge the way in sustainable and financially beneficial farming practices while granting Wisconsin’s students the opportunity to gain hands-on learning experience with renewable energy systems.
“Beyond producing heat and electricity that meaningfully negate our campus’ carbon footprint, we view our fleet of biodigesters as living, learning laboratories for students, faculty and the communities we serve,” said UW Oshkosh Foundation president Arthur Rathjen. “And we are confident our digesters, as their production scales up and their impact becomes even more widely known, will draw agricultural, industrial and other types of enterprise to our campus and region.”
Several other benefits are offered through the digester in addition to taking the farm’s waste and generating renewable heat and electricity: it will reduce farm odors, decrease phosphorus and nitrogen run-off, and the resulting nutrient-rich digestate can be used or sold as a soil additive.
“When you add in the ability to use the manure to gather green energy even before it is returned to the soil, it is another major benefit to a farm’s pre-existing sustainability,” said Jim Ostrom, Rosendale Dairy co-owner.
The project at Rosendale Dairy will be the third digester produced from the relationship between BIOFerm and UWO as the university employs digestion technology to achieve their sustainability goals.
“Beyond producing sustainable energy for farm operations, our digesters will serve as model solutions to keep farming vibrant in Wisconsin’s future,” said Rathjen. “Digesters serve as a catalyst for a quality of life, one that will preserve and strengthens our rural, farming heritage and legacy.”
Carbon credits generated from the digester’s sale of electricity to the grid are expected to dramatically aid in the university’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.
The system is expected to be producing electricity and connected to the grid by December 2013.
“We are quite happy to see the results of a long road and look forward to seeing our product help in the creation of green energy by the end of 2013,” noted Ostrom.