Oct 27 2011
Two local operations will get $800,000 total for manure digesters
Journal Lancaster New Era (Pennsylvania) - by Cindy Stauffer
The poop-to-power movement continues in Lancaster County.
Two local farms have received a total of $800,000 in federal grants to set up manure digesters, which take methane gas from animal waste and convert it into electricity.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding the digesters to encourage renewable energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and farm-based pollution.
Yippee! Farms, in Mount Joy, received a grant of $500,000.
Jay Clifford Sensenig, in Kirkwood, received a grant of $309,733.
Manure digesters are thought to aid the environment because they trap methane, a gas that can lead to global warming, and save carbon dioxide, another heat-trapping gas, from being released into the atmosphere, experts say. They also reduce the amount of electricity that needs to be produced by a fossil-fueled power plant.
The electricity can be used to run the farm and its operations and excess amounts can be sold to power companies.
Digesters produce liquid manure and a dry solid. The liquid manure can be spread on fields and is less soluble to rain than manure that is not put through a digester. The solid is odor-free and usable for bedding.
Yippee! Farms, which has about 1,600 cows, is on Iron Bridge Road and is owned by Arlin and Deborah Benner. The Benner family also owns neighboring farms, one at 1020 Pinkerton Road and one adjoining that.
Sensenig and his wife, Andrea, own a farm on Spring Hill Road in Little Britain Township. Their family owns 250 cows, 2,200 pigs and 30,000 hens. The digester will use manure from those animals and birds to produce electricity.
Two farms in Shippensburg and Mifflintown also received grants totaling more than $700,000.
The four Pennsylvania projects represent 21 percent of all digester projects in the United States in 2011, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Lancaster County digesters are the third and fourth to receive federal funding here, federal officials said.
The other two were Brubaker Farms in Mount Joy and Wanner Pride and Joy in Narvon.
In all, 14 digester projects have been funded in the state, with nine in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Federal officials made the funding announcement Wednesday during a trip to a Wisconsin farm.
Funding was provided by the USDA Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP. Since its creation in 2002, REAP has saved about 13.4 billion kilowatts of electricity, reduced almost 14.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and assisted almost 9,600 businesses, farms and ranches, federal officials said.