Wisconsin's largest dairy holds ribbon cutting for AD system

By BioFerm Energy Systems | January 06, 2014

A facility that generates farm-produced energy, tackles environmental concerns, provides unique learning experiences, and creates profitable end-products was launched Dec. 11 as visitors around the globe attended the ribbon cutting for Rosendale Dairy’s new 1.4-megawatt (MW) biodigester.

Around 100 guests braved Wisconsin’s freezing weather to make the biodigester ribbon cutting at the state’s largest dairy a success. The project included installing two of BIOFerm Energy System’s complete mix anaerobic digestion tanks—COCCUS—as well as the construction of a hands-on learning laboratory.

“It is a great privilege to work with such forward-thinking partners on a project of this scale. This is more than just a problem-solution-type project,” said Joachim Janssen, chief financial officer and head of the Viessmann biogas sector, during the ceremony. “This is a step toward solving waste removal issues and launching a major sustainability project to benefit a farm in the state of Wisconsin; a state we have grown to love through our partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh over the past few years, while also having a chance to again work with innovative partners that are the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Foundation, University of Oshkosh, Milk Source and Rosendale Dairy.”

Once fully operational, the biodigester will process approximately 240 tons of manure per day from the dairy’s 8,500 cows. The digested manure is capable of producing up to 1.4 MW of renewable electricity. The site will also provide University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh students the unique opportunity to work with real life facts and figures.

“Here, on this remarkable farm, we proudly work with this array of partners to turn waste to energy. And, in doing so, we will provide our students an unparalleled educational experience,” said Richard Wells, University of Wisconsin chancellor. “Here, students and faculty will demonstrate how Wisconsin agriculture and farming communities can remain vibrant for generations to come. They can power their operations. They can protect the earth. They can fortify the bottom line. It all works in harmony. It’s the Wisconsin Idea. We pursue and reach breakthroughs that will improve our state, its businesses, its ecology, its people.”

Carbon credits generated from the biodigester’s sale of electricity to the grid are expected to dramatically aid in the university’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025, and will provide enough energy to power 1,200 homes per year.

Although the biodigester’s primary purpose is generating renewable heat and electricity from manure, additional farm benefits include decreased phosphorus and nitrogen run-off, minimized farm odors, and digestate with a high nutrient content that can be used on-farm or sold.

“When you add in the ability to use the manure to gather green energy even before it is returned to the soil, it is another major benefit to a farm’s pre-existing sustainability,” said Jim Ostrom, Rosendale Dairy co-owner.