Clearing the Air

nativeenergyOne Vermont business is doing its part to help reduce the methane emissions from dairy farmers in Vermont.


Dairy farms tend to have a large carbon footprint from the manure from the various animals, but mainly from cows.


In an effort to reduce these greenhouse emissions, NativeEnergy has built two different types of projects for the farms: Anaerobic manure digesters and a manure separation equipment. These efforts for now are staying with the Green Dream Farms which provide milk for Ben and Jerry's products.

"In the 1980s, after the first energy crisis, a few hundred manure waste-to-energy digester systems were built in the U.S. These utilized captured biogas to generate electrical power. Like solar and wind systems at the time, the digester technology was not mature and falling electricity prices halted their expansion," says Brian Killkelley.

Today with all of the methane pollution the Anaerobic Manure Digester is making its return. How it works,

Killkelley says, "With a digester, farmers can use less fossil fuel for heating and displace electricity on the power grid, keeping many tons of CO2 out of the air."

And good news for those that live next to a farm, the Anaerobic Manure Digester also helps reduce that farm odor.

The other piece of equipment is the Manure Separation Equipment. The machine does exactly what it sounds likes, it separates the solids from the manure stored in slurry lagoons. This keeps the organic particles from entering the slurry.

And for those of you that are not sure what a slurry is... the dictionary defines it as a "a semiliquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal suspended in water," says Killkelley.

Besides cutting down on the green house emissions there are many other benefits this will have on farmers and the community.

"It provides a source of cow bedding material for the farm, which is cheaper than sawdust and more comfortable for the animals. It also cuts nutrient management costs and reduces the potential for runoff pollution in vulnerable watersheds."

So far, no farms in the Northeast Kingdom have been able to take advantage of these projects. If they go well, the hope is that all farms in Vermont will have access to them.