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AgSTAR - Penn State Cooperative Extension Anaerobic Digester Workshop

Penn State logo USDA logo AgSTAR logo
With support from the Lancaster County Center of Excellence in Production Agriculture

December 2, 2010
Lancaster, Pennsylvania

AgSTAR and Penn State Cooperative Extension partnered together to offer an anaerobic digester workshop in Lancaster, PA on December 2, 2010 with support from the Lancaster County Center of Excellence in Production Agriculture. Over 150 people from 19 states and 2 Canadian provinces came out to learn about biogas recovery; a hot topic as farmers and communities explore ways to reduce nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

group photo

Presenters discussed successful digester systems on small to medium operations, as well as important considerations when evaluating the potential for community digesters.  Robert Graves from Penn State University discussed the basics of anaerobic digestion as it relates to energy, odor and nutrients.  Stephanie Lansing, University of MD, spoke about her work researching small-scale digester options.  Bill Shuffstall, Penn State University, discussed regional digesters and advanced water treatment, including information on efforts in Martinsburg, PA with The Cove Area Regional Digester project. The regional project, which is 10 years in the making, has led to similar discussions in the Lancaster area.

Various aspects of revenue enhancement strategies were discussed including selling electricity, nutrient value, carbon credits, as well as innovative on-farm benefits, including heat recovery for pasteurizing milk, animal bedding, compost and tipping fees from food waste disposal.  Resources for grants, loans and other financial incentives were shared by Allison Costa, US EPA, Bernard Linn, USDA-RD, and Noel Soto, USDA-NRCS.  Farmers were also encouraged to receive a free anaerobic digestion screening for their operation through AgSTAR.

Participants had the opportunity to visit one of two farms – Oregon Dairy or Brubaker's Dairy.

Oregon Dairy, in Lititz, PA, originally constructed a modified plug flow digester in 1986. It was designed for cogeneration, producing electricity and heat that is used for both the digester and the farmhouse. After operation for over 20 years, they have recently redesigned their system and have installed a complete mix digester to process the manure from about 400 cows. Additionally, they have added a composting operation that will process outside wastes.

George Hurst leading the tour at Oregon Dairy, Lititz

George Hurst leading the tour at Oregon Dairy, Lititz

Brubaker's Dairy, in Mount Joy, PA has a complete mix system that accepts off-farm wastes in addition to the manure from approximately 900 cows. It also has a cogeneration system, producing electricity and capturing waste heat from the engine-generator set. The farm maximizes the use of waste heat from the digester in a variety of ways, both traditional and innovative.

Tony Brubaker leading wagon tour at Brubaker Farms, Mt. Joy

Tony Brubaker leading wagon tour at Brubaker Farms, Mt. Joy

Presentations from the event are posted below.


9:30 AM - 10 AM

Anaerobic Digestion – Energy, Odor and Nutrients
Robert Graves, Penn State University (PDF) (37 pp, 1.7M)

10 AM - 10:30 AM

Tools and Opportunities for AD Project Development
Allison Costa, US EPA (PDF) (13 pp, 1.2M)
Bernard Linn, USDA-RD (PDF) (30 pp, 479K)
Noel Soto, USDA-NRCS (PDF) (6 pp, 21K)

10:30 AM - 11 AM

Small-Scale Digester Options
Stephanie Lansing, University of MD (PDF) (34 pp, 2.4M)

11 AM - 11:30 AM

Regional Digesters and Advanced Water Treatment: Energy and Nutrients
Bill Shuffstall, Penn State University (PDF) (18 pp, 270K)

11:30 AM - 12 PM

Owner Perspective: Reinford Farm's AD Experience
John Tyson, Penn State Cooperative Extension - Mifflin County and Steve Reinford, Reinford Farm (PDF) (19 pp, 1.9M)

1 PM

Tour of Oregon Dairy or Brubaker's Dairy Digester Projects (PDF) (1 pg, 82K)

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