- Animal Production: manure management
- Crop Production: nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: demonstration
- Energy: bioenergy and biofuels, energy conservation/efficiency
- Pest Management: compost extracts
- Production Systems: holistic management
- Soil Management: nutrient mineralization
Sustainable agriculture is a critical component of a sustainable society. Essential to sustainable agriculture is the sustainability of the small farm. Effective use of energy and nutrients are two ingredients that determine the success or failure of small farms. By creating their own energy and fertilizer, small farms can have a competitive edge. Many farmers are now turning to energy production to gain a foothold in the renewable energy sector. There is also growing demand for organically grown food. Both of these solutions can be achieved through a process known as anaerobic digestion, or biodigestion. Biodigestion converts organic matter into biogas energy and an organic fertilizer. Biogas is a sustainable alternative to natural gas and the effluent that is produced is a nutrient-rich biofertilizer. With biodigestion, nearly any type of organic material can be used, including most organic wastes produced on the farm (e.g. manure, crop residues, and culled crops). There is also potential to use waste products from other bioenergy production (oilseed press cake, glycerin, etc.). Farms of any size can utilize biodigestion as the technology is fully scalable. Biogas can be put to many uses on the farm, such as cooking or water heating. Utilizing biodigestion on a small farm, allows farmers to become more energy independent and to produce their own organic fertilizer. This project will study the various feedstocks for on-farm biodigestion and develop, maintain, and demonstrate a functioning small-farm-scale system of biofertilizer production and biogas production, clean-up, storage, and use.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Determine biogas potential of various organic waste produced by small farms.
2. Demonstrate effective methods of biogas clean-up and storage.
3. Demonstrate a functioning biogas reactor and storage system to the small-farming community.