The December issue of Dairy Herd Management discussed the benefits of anaerobic methane digesters. But, be sure to do your homework before investing in one.

1. Consult the AgSTAR Handbook for information on anaerobic digesters. You can access the handbook by going to the AgSTAR Web site on the Internet at:

Once there, go to the index and click on “The Library” and then click on “AgSTAR Handbook and Software.” Appendix A of the handbook contains profiles of on-farm digester sites already up and running across the nation, including project size and cost.

2. Run some initial feasibility assessments of your project, using the FarmWare computer program from the AgSTAR Web site. The FarmWare program is in the same section of the web site as the handbook.

3. Hire a consultant who is knowledgeable in the design of anaerobic methane digesters to advise you on your project. Besides advising you on basic design, the consultant may be able to help you negotiate the sale of electricity to utility companies and comply with the special permitting procedures required for anaerobic digester projects.

To access a list of consultants at the AgSTAR Web site, click on “Guide to Technology Providers.”