A team of USDA officials visited a Vermont dairy farm last Friday. This farm, known in the North Troy, Vermont area as Chaput Family Farms, is producing all of its on-farm electricity, heat, hot water and bedding for the cows. It will sell the excess power to the local utility. The excess bedding will be sold to local farms. The project was funded with assistance from USDA.
NRCS State Conservationist Vicky Drew says in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the collection of methane, the digester will also reduce energy needed to produce and haul bedding to the farm by recycling the manure onsite into a dry bedding material for the cows, creating a closed-loop system.
The 300 kilowatt anaerobic digester system that USDA officials toured will digest manure from a dairy herd, produce biogas and combust the gas to generate renewable energy on a continuous basis, and provide digester effluent for use as crop fertilizer and for cow bedding material. USDA Rural Development helped finance the digester with a loan and grant through the Rural Energy for America Program. Chaput's digester is the first to go online through Vermont's Standard Offer Program.