State Sen. Pamela A. Helming recently visited Lawnhurst Farms to see the anaerobic digester that the dairy farm uses to turn cow manure into clean energy and other products that the farm uses, such as fertilizer and bedding for the cows.
The tour also included: Rick Zimmerman, of Zimmerman and Associates, representing the New York Cow Power Coalition; Peter Wright, of Cornell University’s PRO-DAIRY Program; Scott Collins, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development; and Jillian Kasow, of the New York State Legislative Commission on Rural Resources.
Helming is the Senate Chair of the Commission, which oversees issues related to farming and rural communities.
During the tour, Jensen explained that his farm chose to implement an anaerobic digester — one of 28 on-farm digesters across New York state — because of its environmental benefits, including reducing the emission of greenhouse gases from cow manure and increasing the farm’s energy efficiency with a self-sufficient power source.
However, Jensen also spoke about the economic disadvantages of the digester: The cost to operate and maintain the digester is greater than the revenue he receives from selling surplus power to the grid. Helming and the group discussed ways to help farmers benefit economically from digesters and encourage more farmers to implement them for the environmental friendliness and energy efficiency that they provide.