DORCHESTER, Wisc. (CNN) - Steve Bach's family dairy farm sits just outside the village ofDorchester. His herd, 2,600 head of cattle also on his farm, is anengine.
The engine is just one part of a complex machine that takescattle waste and turns it into power. It literally separates cowmanure, removing the solid, from the methane gas. That gas goesthrough an engine, which powers a generator and produceselectricity.
That energy is then pumped into powerlines and into hundreds ofrural Dorchester homes. It is a process that is making use of asmelly product and making Bach money.
"I think for the sale of the electricity and getting betterusage of the manure coming out of the cows," said Bach. "I put itmostly in bedding, to bed my cattle and cut my manure odor for thelocal community."
Bach herd produces about 30,000 gallons of waste daily. Beforehe started digesting it, that waste was stored in pits and spreadon fields for fertilizer. It is still put on field now, but withoutmethane gas, it is far less stinky.
"The methane is what gives the odor to the manure and I livereally close to Dorchester," said Bach. "So, by putting this in, itshould take all the odor out of the manure when we spread themanure in the fields in the spring and fall."
The electricity is distributed to homes by Taylor ElectricCooperative.
"It's using that waste and it's helping reduce the amount ofmethane being released and renewable energy, of course, helps usreduce that dependency on foreign oil," said Taylor ElectricCooperative president and CEO Mike Schaefer.
About 90 percent of Taylor's Electric power comes from coal.Now, by using a resource found on hundreds of farms in the area,that dependency is greatly reduced.
"We're the dairy state," said Bach. "We should be able to getmore of these and produce energy out of it. I think it's just agreat thing."
The solid part of the waste is used for cow bedding. bach usesabout half for his herd and sells the other half to other areafarmers.
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