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Tuesday, December 18th, 2007 -- 8:36 AM

While it still may be cost prohibitive for small livestock producers to turn manure into electricity, there may be other options.

Clark County UW-Extension hosted a seminar Monday exploring options for small to medium-size operations.

Most farmers know about anaerobic digesters, which utilize naturally occurring bacteria to turn manure into usable methane gas and then into electricity. But, at last check, it could cost nearly $1.5-million to get an anaerobic digester on-line and producing electricity.

Studies have shown they're not feasible for farms with fewer than 600-800 dairy cows.

"That's what we were looking at: is it possible to have these things on small farms?" explains livestock agent Maria Bendixen.

Bendixen said producers here may benefit by looking at what developing?or Third World?countries are doing.

"There is quite a bit of this going on in other countries. They're doing it really low-cost," Bendixen notes. "We're looking at it more, not for electricity, but for heating fuel."

The seminar was taught by Crawford County agent Vance Haugen, who said manure pits could be "capped" and the methane used.

"We can use it to heat water, heating fuel. We looked into it for the Amish, because they could use it for lighting, heating fuel, cooking, even refrigeration."

Oh? there's another benefit, the process removes some of the odor from manure, leaving a "less objectionable" smell.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.