I get asked a lot why I’m doing this when I’m getting ready to retire, and I’ve wondered that myself. But things have to continue and I’ve thought about this possibility for a long time. I didn’t know how to do what I wanted to do, but I found some folks who helped us get there. They gave me exactly what I asked for and I’m tickled with it.”
We need to produce 70% more food by 2050. That happens with innovative, sustainable and creative ideas and technology on the farm.”
The digester is one of the few things we have ever purchased that has exceeded our expectations.”
When a business such as ours makes an investment of this size the consensus from our family was to go with the proven technology. For us that meant DVO."
We would never do any dairying without a DVO digester. Even if the electricity and manure solids sales made it only break even, the other benefits the system brings to a dairy would still make the digester essential."
We were the only farm in the area able to harvest a third hay crop. I know it’s due to heavily applying digested liquid after each cutting.”
DVO, a great company to work with. The experience of building a digester is stressful for a dairyman. However DVO made it a pleasant and fun journey. They have a team of people to work with and understand the fundamentals of dairyfarming. They took care of all details from writing grants to helping with design and installing the last manure pump. They have my philosophy of keeping things as simple as possible on the farm. However the most important part of their company are the people. Simply a great group to work with."
My customers are paying for the digested liquid from Holsum’s digester, and fighting over the limited supply – because crop yields are so much better where they spread the digested liquid."
What is really amazing is what you don’t see or actually, smell. Spending the better part of the past two and a half years down here, I thought that I had just grown accustomed to it. But that’s not it. The odor now is virtually gone."
We needed somebody who knew even more about digesters. We ended up talking to Steve Dvorak. A lot of vultures descended on us, said they were engineers. They really didn't have too much to offer when it came right down to specific questions. Steve had a lot of good ideas, a lot of answers, and experience. And so, after visiting with him a few times it was pretty obvious that we'd be able to work very well with him. So we went with DVO."
The advantages are just unreal: pretty much get rid of the odor; we can use bedding out of the fiber; defer some costs by making electricity, and it's green electricity, which our environmental people are interested in. The fly problem is pretty well gone; pathogens are gone; nutrient value of the manure that we're hauling out, the nitrogen is more stable, the phosphorous more available; and the neat thing is the manure we're hauling out is going into the digester at a pH of 6.8, 6.9 - it's coming out at a pH of 7.8 to 7.9. So we're getting a neutralizing value in the manure; besides, there should be a savings in lime as we get down the road. So, with all the features of the whole thing, it's pretty much a win-win thing for the community and the environmental concerns and everything."
Gordon's system has been very reliable. 'A farmer should not invest in a digester solely to generate electricity,' he says. He recommends that farmers do the same by investing in a system that 'has an excellent track record.'"
The digester allows us to have another source of income. Now we're producing electricity along with milk. It's a secondary revenue stream that is independent of milk prices.
We also use this as a way to be better neighbors. The odor issues that the dairy used to experience have been minimized to the point of being negligible now. We're very proud of it. It makes us better neighbors and that's something that we set out to do for that reason."
There are now more and more digesters coming in. I would call them '2nd wave' digesters. I think it's a benefit to the environment, I think it's a benefit to the state, I think it's a benefit to our power grid. It's a good thing."
The digester setup, which has been constructed at this site, has virtually eliminated all manure odors.... Taking into consideration the number of animals at this site [3,300], the aroma is better than one would expect from a 100-cow operation without a digester."