Farmer’s Cow turns farm waste into sustainable power

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A herd of cows in a field. The digester systems at the Farmer’s Cow will process manure from dairy and chicken farms to create RNG. Photo by Lukas Hartmann/Pexels

The Farmer’s Cow brand of companies and Connecticut-based Circular Energy Group have announced their plans for the “Anaerobic Digester” project, an alternative energy source to create sustainable renewable energy in Connecticut.  

The Farmer’s Cow, a group of six Connecticut family-owned dairy farms, has collectively sold dairy products as a united brand since 2005. This partnered project has been under way for years, as the Farmer’s Cow has prepared to develop, refine and implement the Anaerobic Digesters on their farm sites.  

According to their press release, the digester systems will be placed on 20 farm-owned acres. They will process manure from dairy and chicken farms in the area, creating Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). The systems are designed to digest and process manure from 6,500 dairy cows and approximately 6 million egg-laying chickens. 

The project is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to removing 7,000 gasoline/diesel-powered automobiles from our roads; plus produce enough energy, in power equivalence, to power 8,000 homes. It is meant to run 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, as stated in a press release

The press release elaborated that the RNG, initially produced as “biogas,” will be refined on-site and injected into a natural gas pipeline, which runs through the Farmer’s Cow-owned farm sites. Fertilizer, a natural product of the digester system, will be delivered to participating farms, with energy for the farms and the digesters created on-site. 

The Farmer’s Cow has already completed some gas-line sourcing and distribution systems on its farm sites. Steve Lane, chief development officer of the FC Development Corp, further discussed the digester system in a virtual interview.  

“Two of the farms already have a smaller version that is running and generating power. It works just like the larger anaerobic one will,” Lane said. “It breaks down the manure and food waste, and supplies electricity, and they developed options as to what to do with it.”  

Lane said the power has provided the farms with options in how to most efficiently benefit their property.  

“One of them sold the electricity and is building a smart barn on their property that will be powered with the electricity they create,” Lane said. 

The current operational digesters have been able to provide the environmental impact of the new larger digesters, according to Lane. The largest project is the one being developed on the cooperative’s Cushman Farm, breaking ground mid-spring 2023.  

Lane said the digesters have been a main component of the Farmer’s Cow goal of farming sustainably. Its mission statement is to teach the public about dairy farming while connecting their community to the land. He said they hope to continue connecting the community to the land by reaching additional partners in Connecticut.  

According to Lane, “The Farmer’s Cow is actively seeking additional partners within Connecticut and its neighboring New England states — especially based in the academic world, potentially within the public and private university system — to explore the best uses and potential reuses of our Digester projects.”  

Lane said Farmer’s Cow hopes that academic partnerships will lead to other projects that support the same values that led to the creation of the Anaerobic project.  

“A particular focus of ours is to find supporting agricultural programs and projects that the company believes can enhance those partners’ carbon and greenhouse gas reduction,” Lane said.

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