Local dairy farm becomes more sustainable with methane digesters

August 8th, 2022
Reading time: 3 minutes


August 8, 2022

A local dairy operation is becoming more sustainable.

Boadwine Dairy in Baltic is taking manure and turning it into renewable natural gas through the use of their new methane digesters.

It’s all a part of the Athena Project, a partnership with Brightmark, to bring agricultural sustainability to the next level.

No these are not spaceships; they are the new methane digesters at Boadwine Farms near Baltic. It’s taking the manure from these cows and turning it into renewable natural gas.

“There’s boilers here that just heat up the manure to the temperature that it would be inside the cow, about 100 degrees, then from there there is a similar microbial system that just kind of releases just like it would inside of her, the methane, and it’s basically captured in these domes just as if you had a large grocery bag on top of it,” said Riley Boadwine, dairy farmer.

Once the methane is captured, it will be cleaned and sent into a pipeline to Baltic, where it is distributed as natural gas for a variety of uses.

“Transportation, homes, maybe even come back and power dairy farms just like this,” said Boadwine.

Sustainability is something ag producers are passionate about, and this is the next step for dairy operations to show that.

“We not only reduce our environmental footprint, but we create a new resource, natural gas, that can be used for people everywhere,” said Boadwine.

“Sustainability is important to agriculture, it’s important to everybody,” said Heidi Zwinger, outreach director for Ag United for South Dakota. “We all need to do our part to control what we can as far as inputs and limiting inputs and or what can be more efficient or what can be reused or what can we take this byproduct and what else can we turn it into.”

While this may be a somewhat new concept, they do expect it to become a staple in the dairy industry.

“Absolutely we will see more, I know there is more methane digesters in the works and dairy farmers talking to not just Brightmark but organizations as well,” said Zwinger.

“As farmers, we require the license to do what we do from the people around us and so it’s important that we listen to what they have to say and outspokenly environmental sustainability like this, reducing our carbon footprint has been very important to people, it should be important to us, so projects like this are the best way to accomplish that,” said Boadwine.

Right now, the digesters are located at Boadwine Farms, Pioneer Dairy, and Mooody Dairy.
The Athena project will take around 55 million gallons of manure a year and take 64,500 tons of greenhouse gas out of the lagoons each year.

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