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Lisbon dairy farm receives $403,000 grant for bio-gas digester

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LISBON — A $403,627 federal grant will help make it so electricity produced by processing methane gas from cow manure will power Woodcrest Dairy Farm, 322 Wood Road, in a couple of years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program grant — providing the funding for a biogas digester that will produce the energy — was announced Wednesday in a joint news release by U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand.

“We’ve been working on getting funding for this project for a couple of years now,” said Peter R. Braun, co-owner and manager of Woodcrest. “I appreciate the support of the state. We’re hoping the digester will help us become more self-efficient and more profitable.”

Instead of methane from the farm’s manure going into the atmosphere, the digester will allow it to collect it and turn it into clean, sustainable energy.

Mr. Braun said the digester separates liquid and solid manure, which then sits in the tank for two to three weeks at high temperatures. The process helps to remove harmful bacteria from the solid manure that sometimes causes illness among cows when used as bedding for the cow stalls.

Mr. Braun said although he hopes the major construction of the $2 million project will be underway in the spring, it will depend on the weather and getting the contractors lined up.

“We’ve done most of the engineering and site work for the project, and the goal is to have it completed in 2015,” he said.

The cost of the project is mainly for the construction and the amount of equipment needed to run the digester, Mr. Braun said.

The farm has a total of 2,750 dairy cows, but at the location where the digester will be, it has 1,050.

“We have another location a mile down the road, so we will probably try to truck some of that manure up to the digester,” Mr. Braun said.

The digester also will help reduce the odor of the fields on the farm because the manure will be collected to be processed.

“It will be better on the neighbors because the manure comes out of the digester without the terrible odor,” Mr. Braun said.

The project has received other grants as well, but Mr. Braun said he doesn’t expect the money to come in until the season the construction begins.

“This is an important investment for Woodcrest Dairy and St. Lawrence County,” Sen. Gillibrand said in a news release. “These federal resources for a new biogas digester can help the farm generate clean, sustainable energy for itself and other local businesses, while helping to protect our environment and strengthen our local economy.”

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