Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Agriculture going green?

Let's face it we live in a time where we are expanding and in turn our fossil fuels are depleting coupled with some harmful after math to our planet like green house gasses. To counter act these damages many innovations and steps have been taken. For example, the innovation of hybrid cars and even fully electric cars. It seems as if everything made is HF (high efficiency) and an energy star. These list from refrigerators, televisions, to light bulbs. Even some cities, like my own (malden), make it a point to recycle and only accept the city trash bags which you have to pay for from them in attempt to cut back on excess waste. The point is people are taking it seriously and have even taken another step in the fight to go green.

A Rural Economy and Land program have been research Anaerobic digestion to help agriculture go green. This is beneficial for farmers and it has a positive effect on green house gas emissions. According the the researchers a typical dairy farm could supply most of the electricity needed to milk the cows by simply converting their manure into energy with these digesters. The Anaerobic digester is a plant that can be fed animal slurry, energy crop, or imported waste. After the process is complete a fertilizer is a by-product and can be used to save farmers money while cutting back on carbon dioxide emissions.

"Digesting the slurry produced b y one dairy cow has the potential to reduce methane emission by 25 kg and generate 1000 kWh for electricity per year. This is the equivalent of three months electricity consumption in an average household."

There seems to be no negative issue with this technology. It is bio degradable and environment friendly. Furthermore, cost efficient and would considerably help the "green" movement. There isn't really much to say except for wow what is next.

posted by Louis Dumas (1)


  1. I am curious to see what the next step in this technology is. I can't imagine that the majority of Americans would be willing to have a 'power plant' in their yard that runs off cow slurry considering the smell it would cause, especially when there are multiple 'power plants' in a neighborhood. I am surprised, however, that this technology is just being discovered now. It seems so simple, but I am interested to see how far this actually goes in the solution to cutting down emissions.

    Posted by Marlena Grasso

  2. Louis,

    I am pleased and amazed that, after so many long years, we have finally come up with such an interesting name for cow manure.

    Nomenclature aside, this is a wonderful story and gives some hope to the cattle industry in America which, over the course of the last few years, has become a topic of contention for environmentalists. However, while the potential for generating kilowatt hours from—and I can't believe I'm typing this—cow slurry represents a step forward in renewable energy, one of the more prominent issues among industrial cattle-raising is the proliferation of methane gas release. The amount of gas from cattle farms actually has an impact on the world's climate, so I wonder: are the researchers addressing that issue as well?

    Thanks for the clarification.

    Posted by Alexander Simolaris

  3. There are a few things that come to mind upon reading your blog, Louis. One of them is how disturbing it is that the part of Texas in which my father lives does not recycle at all. I was shocked to find this out when I visited and asked where they keep their cans to be recycled, only to find that his wife, my step-mother, along with some of her friends in their community, have taken many vigorous steps to change with, to no avail.

    The second thing that comes to mind is how many inhabitants of India use manure. They use it to insulate their homes, as well as in the production of their soap. It may sound disgusting, but who are we to stop them? If you ask me, we should be taking note of this; it is wonderful. But, they do it just to get by, not as an effort to go green.

    The third and final thing that comes to mind is McDonald's latest efforts to go green. Many of their restaurants, and hopefully all of them soon, make use of the grease left over in all their fryolators. They mix it with Diesel fuel to make the hybrid known as Bio-Diesel fuel. Many of their trucks shipping supplies now use this Bio-Diesel fuel. I think it is great.

    Posted by Derek Melzar

  4. Jumping on the bandwagon is usually considered a bad thing, but I hope more farmers start to use this new technology. Being able to effectively reduce waste and emissions can make a great impact if this practice was applied. I wonder if this technology can be used for other applications in the world, not just for agricultural purposes.

  5. Like the previous post, it would be great to see this done widespread. I am not sure if I am answering the question on the second post, but anaerobic digester plants use tanks that cap and channel methane gas for future energy use, which prevents its release into the atmosphere.

    Posted by: Nelson Milano

  6. This development is definitely consistent with what has been occurring with agricultural and biotechnological developments over the past decade or so. Thankfully the agricultural industry has been shifting away from technologies that produce high but short-term gains and more towards long-term, permacultural strategies. Hopefully with these bacteria and their ability to eliminate methane emissions, we humans can continue to design our environments so that our ways of life work with the planet, rather than against it.

    Posted by Connor Finnerty