Ag Weekly reports the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is investing in “cow power” beginning construction on a $1.18 million manure digestion system at Pioneer Farm.

The university is the only in the Midwest to own its own manure digestion system. Plans to break ground are a step closer after recently receiving approval by the State of Wisconsin Building Commission. The next step is to collect bids from companies to design and build the system. The university plans to select a contractor by April to begin construction in June and have the machine ready to use by December.

The project will digest manure, capturing the methane gas, but plans include a biodiesel manufacturing facility. Glycerin, a byproduct of pressed soybeans, will be added to manure and run through the digester to produce more methane. The digester could also use food waste and whey left from cheesemaking, but the university is limited to using less than 20 percent nonagricultural waste without needing additional permits.

Manure from the dairy herd, beef herd and farrow to finish hog operation at Pioneer Farm will be used as the main source of substrate. Digesters are recommended for use on dairy farms with more than 800 cows.

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