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Community digester operations and dairy farmer perspectives


  • Megan Swindal


  • Gilbert Gillespie
  • Rick Welsh


Rising energy costs, increasing herd sizes, and other structural changes affecting the New York dairy industry may make farmers receptive to new energy production technologies. Anaerobic digestion represents a possible benefit to farmers by reducing odor while producing methane for electricity. However, current digester designs are for herd sizes of 300 or more cows, with significant economies of scale, so smaller operators may have little interest in the technology. Moreover, without a favorable policy environment and reliable grant programs, the initial investments required for digester installation might deter operators. One solution to these issues may be community digesters, which are centrally located facilities that accept manure from multiple farms. Data from a survey of New York dairy farmers were used to assess farmers’ interest in community digesters. In general, interest was associated with power generation outcomes and reservations about organic farming practices; advocates might encourage their use among smaller conventional farm operators looking for new sources of profit and diversification. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Suggested Citation

  • Megan Swindal & Gilbert Gillespie & Rick Welsh, 2010. "Community digester operations and dairy farmer perspectives," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(4), pages 461-474, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:27:y:2010:i:4:p:461-474
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-009-9238-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thornley, Patricia, 2006. "Increasing biomass based power generation in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(15), pages 2087-2099, October.
    2. William F. Lazarus & Margaretha Rudstrom, 2007. "The Economics of Anaerobic Digester Operation on a Minnesota Dairy Farm," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(2), pages 349-364.
    3. C. Hinrichs & Rick Welsh, 2003. "The effects of the industrialization of US livestock agriculture on promoting sustainable production practices," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 20(2), pages 125-141, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thompson, Ethan & Wang, Qingbin & Li, Minghao, 2013. "Anaerobic digester systems (ADS) for multiple dairy farms: A GIS analysis for optimal site selection," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 114-124.


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