According to researchers in Ireland, algae grown from surplus dairy farm manure is an excellent alternative source of bioenergy. Owen Fenton and Daire O’Huallachain, of the Environmental Research Center in County Wexford, say dairy farmers can use algae as a potential revenue source as well as lessening their farm’s environmental footprint by exporting their farm’s manure to algae growers.
In a review published in the most recent Algal Research, Fenton and O’Huallachain say that since biofuel demand is rising, this alternative algal biomass could create a win-win relationship between commercial algae growers who need affordable sources of fertilizers and the dairy farmers who need outlets for their manure. The researchers find that manure, runoff and drainage water contains sufficient nutrients to facilitate algal growth. Fenton and O’Huallachain do note that variable nutrient concentrations in wastewater slurries present some management issues, but they say that with careful nutrient management strategies, algal biomass can generate another revenue source for dairy farms.