Manure Digester Biogas
Revised December, 2018.
The production of electricity or biogas from manure is an area of alternative-energy interest to many livestock producers. A major report from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) published in October 2007 is perhaps the first in-depth analysis of the costs of anaerobic digester systems compared to conventionally purchased electricity, natural gas and liquid propane. The report discusses strategies for reducing the cost of anaerobic digester operations, as well as the economic advantages of employing these systems in remote locations where the costs of conventional energy are higher. The researchers found that, in most situations in the United States, anaerobic digester systems could produce energy for many livestock operations at a cost competitive with or below commercial natural gas prices.
The report was a collaborative effort of the USDA-NRCS and several major U.S. university research teams. The report was compiled and authored by: Jennifer Beddoes, NRCS, Meridian, Idaho; Kelsi Bracemort, NRCS, Washington, D.C.; Robert Burns, Iowa State University; and William Lazarus, University of Minnesota. Various projects and analysis efforts that created the core of publication were produced by: Noller Herbert, NRCS, Washington, D.C.; William Boyd, NRCS, Greensboro, North Carolina; Peter Wright, NRCS, Syracuse, New York; Conley Hansen, Utah State University; Raj Raman, Iowa State University; and Barry Kintzer, NRCS, Washington, D.C.
An Analysis of Energy Production Costs from Anaerobic Digestion Systems on U.S. Livestock Production Facilities, NRCS, USDA, 2007.
Managing Manure with Biogas Recovery Systems. Improved Performance at Competitive Costs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2002.
- The AgStar Program (farm-scale digesters), EPA, USDA, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
- Ambient Temperature Anaerobic Digester and Greenhouse for Swine Waste Treatment and Bioresource Recovery at Barham Farm (NC), North Carolina State University - This provides research information on an anaerobic digester used on a 4,000-head farrow-to-wean pork operation.
- Anaerobic Digestion, California Energy Commission.
- Anaerobic Digestion of Animal Wastes: Factors to Consider, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), NCAT, 2006.
- Basics of Energy Production Through Anaerobic Digestion of Livestock Manure, BioEnergy series, Purdue University, 2008.
- Biogas Anaerobic Digester Considerations for Swine Farms in North Carolina, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, 2008.
- Cooperative Approaches for Implementation of Dairy Manure Digesters, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA, Research Report 217, 2009 - Dairy farmer use of anaerobic digesters is not widespread due to various challenges, including high costs and inadequate return. Cooperative efforts may allow milk producers to remain focused on milk production while lowering costs and/or increasing returns from energy and byproduct sales.
- Economics and Environmental Impact of Biogas Production as a Manure Management Strategy, Texas A & M University.
- The Economics and Feasibility of Electricity Generation using Manure Digesters on Small and Mid-size Dairy Farms, University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2002.
- Farm-Based Anaerobic Digesters, Michigan State University Extension - Fact sheet that describes different system designs.
- Managing Manure with Biogas Recovery Systems. Improved Performance at Competitive Costs, EPA, 2002.
- Manure Treatment Technologies for Livestock and Poultry Manure, Cooperative Extension System.
- Methane Gas Recovery, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.
- Midwest Rural Energy Council
- On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey (2009), 2007 Census of Agriculture, National Ag Statistics Service, USDA, February 2011 - This energy survey was the first on-farm renewable energy production survey conducted at the national level. The survey provides additional information on energy produced by wind turbines, solar panels and methane digesters that were in operation on farms in 2009. Detailed data includes the installation cost, percent of cost from outside funding, year installed and total amount of utility savings from the use of on-farm renewable energy production.
- Profits from Manure Power? The Economics of Anaerobic Digesters On-Farm, The Minnesota Project