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20110419-RD-LSC-0617 | by USDAgov
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Feeding time in the free stall heifer barns at Brubaker Farms, which is both a diary and green energy producer in Mount Joy, PA on March 19, 2011. The family farm owned by Luke, Mike and Tony Brubaker has approximately 850 cows and 700 young stock, producing 20,200,000 pounds of milk last year. It has 13 full-time employees and more than 1,500 acres of farmland. Their methane digester was made possible with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant that provided a cost-share of the digester purchase. It can handle more than 41,859 metric tons of organic waste, to capture methane gas that fuels a low emission generator producing 225 kW. This powers the digester itself and farm operations. Excess power is sold to the local power grid, allowing the community to benefit from a green energy source. After producing methane, effluent from the digester is pressed to separate liquid and solid materials. The farm uses the liquids in fertilizer; and solids become the cows’ bedding for Brubaker and other local farms, that is cleaner than sawdust. The bedding saves the farm approximately $30,000 per year. Mount Joy residents can enjoy the fact that the process removes 90% of the odor from the cow manure. The methane itself is odorless and colorless. The system can accept an additional 2,600 gallons of food waste per day from local sources that would otherwise dispose of it in a local landfill. Additionally, their nutrient credits can be sold to the local municipality to help it to meet federal requirements and to keep sewer bills from rising. This provides additional revenue for the farm, and creates environmentally friendly community partnerships. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

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Taken on April 19, 2011