NW Natural and Bonneville Environmental Foundation are building a $1 million methane digester at Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman, Ore. Although methane digesters are not new, Bill Eddie of the foundation told BusinessWeek that the model developed by J-U-B Engineers of Boise, Idaho, is cheaper and can be used on both small and large farms.
This means small farms don’t have to spend money to truck heavy manure to a central facility and could have their own digesters and pipe excess gas to a collection spot.
The foundation says work will begin on the methane digester by the end of the year and should be fully operational by mid-March. At that point, waste from 1,200 cows – roughly 144,000 pounds daily, will be added to the methane digester instead of being left on the farm. The first phase of the methane digester is expected to cut CO2 emissions by 1,500 tons and create enough gas to supply more than 100 homes.
Earlier this months, farmers lobbied fiercely against a “cow tax” that would tax them for the methane that livestock emit. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Bush administration recently exempted certain large factor farms from having to report emissions of noxious gases caused by animal waste. The move angered environmentalists.