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Manure

See what farms are using for nutrient management, from anaerobic digesters and storage to field application and emissions.

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When it comes to digester technology, lagoon covers, treatment systems and other methods of manure handling, it seems like much of the press lately has been on the ‘big guys’. Now, I am by no means suggesting that larger production facilities are any better in management or production practices. What I am saying is that the media tends to focus on the larger players in agriculture, for good and for bad, depending on the angle they approach.

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How many cows does it take to support an anaerobic digester? The answer: a lot. Large farms have implemented anaerobic digestion (AD) systems in recent years, but little interest has been paid to small- and medium-sized farms until now.

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You know algae. It’s the gunk that collects on the sides of a fish tank when you forget to clean it. It’s the slime that makes you slip on rocks while crossing a stream. You probably think of algae as a nuisance, if you even bother to think of it at all.

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On July 2, 2007, gas in a manure pit claimed the lives of five people on a Virginia farm. The victims included a 34-year-old farmer who climbed down into the pit to unclog a pipe and was overcome by manure gas.

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When I met with Ted Carpenter and Paul Kelly more than 18 months ago, they had an idea that seemed almost too good to be true. I remember leaving the conversation thinking: “If they can prove what they are saying, then what they have to say would really be worth saying!” I am here to make good on my thoughts, because Bio-Environmental Solutions for Today (BEST) has lived up to its end of the conversation.

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David Albers wishes he could say the reason he’s covering his lagoon and capturing methane is because he had a genius epiphany one day, but instead he says he’ll be producing enough commercial-grade methane to power about 1,200 homes because of persistence and luck.

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