Methane Recovery from Small Dairy Operations

2007 Annual Report for SW04-007

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $123,834.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Matching Federal Funds: $450,000.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $127,000.00
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Ron Carlstrom
MSU Extension- Gallatin County

Methane Recovery from Small Dairy Operations


Since the project moved to the Huls Dairy in Corvallis, Montana, we have seen a tremendous amount of progress and teamwork. Dan Huls, project manager, is closely working with Josh Kellar, putting together the system component choices and coordinating the project. NRCS, Henry Burkwhat and Kristine Handley, have been working with Huls Dairy on the engineering aspect of the project and establishing cost share. Dan expects the digester to be up and running March 2008.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The Northern Rocky Mountain Resource Conservation and Development Area is assisting the Huls’ Dairy in Corvallis, Montana with the following:
— Showcasing reliable, cost effective anaerobic digester technology to demonstrate alternative manure management for a “Montana-sized” dairg (350-500 head);
— Diversifying their dairy operations; and
— Demonstrating environmental, social, and financial benefits of the technology

The methane digester start date is set for March 2008. There will be a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony after start up including a tour of the dairy and the digester system. The Huls Dairy and RC&D will be planning other tours for agencies, organizations, and individuals interested in implementing these principles. MSU County Extension will be working with Dan and Huls Dairy to put together a website to inform individuals of project progress and contact information for those interested.


The Methane Recovery from Small Dairy Operations Project was successfully transferred to the Huls Dairy in Corvallis, Montana.

In 2007, the NRMRC&D assisted Huls in obtaining $600,000 in construction financing and coordinating between NRCS and contractors for Environmental Quality Incentive Program funding. Construction started in the fall of 2007.

Huls’ system components include:
— Waste Handling System: includes piping and temporary storage of waste materials prior to pumping into digester tanks
— Digester System: two-tank Induced Blanket Reactor (IBR) System designed by Utah State University
— Gas Handling System: biogas will be conditioned prior to utilization. State of the art safety equipment ensures methane and other hazardous gases are handled appropriately
— Electric Generation: piston driven engine will be utilized to generate 65 KW of energy. Engine and Generator set include a heat recovery system
— Post-Digested Material: Conditioned through solids separation. Solids are to be further utilized through a bagging operation and sold through local distributors. Liquids are stored in holding pond for utilization in the irrigation system

Tank building made the front page of the local newspapers, including the area’s Missoulian. The article also made it into all major newspapers in Montana.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We are behind schedule from the 2006 Annual Report timeline, but construction is underway and we will be running soon. The schedule change is for two reasons: 1) the project was moved to another dairy in a different county; and 2) we took time to put together a better financial package.

Education and outreach opportunities are available in the form of talks, tours of the facility, and Internet possibilities. January 2008 will be the launch of the Huls’ Dairy Anaerobic Digester website. Extension will be building the site according to the specifications and needs of the Huls and agencies involved. Extension has also provided project information by giving several talks:
— November 7, 2007: Western Region Extension Beef Update, Willow Creek, MT; 12 attendees
— November 27, 2007: Western Region Extension Crop Update, Helena, MT; 25 attendees
— January 10, 2008: Northern Rocky Mountain RC&D Area Annual Meeting, Livingston, MT; 72 attendees
This method of disseminating project and educational information will continue.


Henry Burkwhat
District Conservationist
Hamilton, MT 59828
Office Phone: 4063635010
Rob Johnson
Ravalli County Extension Agent
MSU Extension
Kristine Handley
NRCS Civil Engineer
Joshua Kellar
Northern Rocky Mountain RC&D
Office Phone: 4065825700
Dan Huls
Secretary, Huls Dairy Inc.
Huls Dairy Inc.
1851 Coyote Road
Corvallis, MT 59828
Office Phone: 4069618887
Kara Schile
Ag. Assistant
Gallatin County Extension
201 W. Madison, Ste. 300
Belgrade, MT 59714
Office Phone: 4063883213
Tim Huls
President, Huls Dairy Inc.
Huls Dairy Inc.
1851 Coyote Road
Corvallis, MT 59828
Office Phone: 4069618887