Transportation Fuels New Opportunities for Farmers
March 27, 2020
Over the past several years, farmers have deployed a variety of diversification strategies to enable their long-term stability. While some farms are investing in robotic technology to combat labor shortages, others are entering the organics market to satisfy consumer preferences. And due to the recently growing market demand, many are also finding benefits through onsite renewable natural gas production.
Benefits you can expect
Renewable natural gas production comes with many benefits to farmers. Just take a look:
1. Financial rewards
Clean fuel credits
As government funding for renewable natural gas products strengthens, farmers are in an excellent position to transform their waste into profits. Leading programs, like the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), are providing clean fuel credits to farmers for each gallon of low carbon fuel products and dispensed into transportation. Because of this, more and more farmers are transitioning to renewable natural gas production, resulting in the exponential growth in dairy-based renewable natural gas development around the world. For some farmers, these programs have even allowed them to sell off existing digesters to interested developers. Others have opted to retain ownership of their digester, upgrading operations for renewable natural gas production. And many are marching down the path of new equipment installation, with the financial and operational support of industry experts.
Anaerobic digestion (the process in which methane is upgraded to renewable natural gas) produces several value-added byproducts that can be utilized by the farm and double as cost-savings initiatives.
The first is bedding. Farmers seek bedding that is comfortable, clean and absorbent for their animals. If bedding can be produced from organic materials, ammonia volatilization is reduced, improving air quality within the barn. Although important, bedding is a high-cost item for many farms and comes with the stress of ideal buy-cycles to secure the best pricing. But by using the bedding from the anaerobic digestion process, farmers are given an organic, financially rewarding option. (And it’s something that the animals will love too!)
Another benefit farmers receive through anaerobic digestion is nutrient-rich solid and liquid fertilizers. It’s no surprise that fertilizer is key to successful crop production. But unfortunately, it can be costly. But using the fertilizer produced, farmers will save money and strengthen soil health.
2. Community relations
From an environmental perspective, it’s no surprise farms of large scale are under the microscope. But with renewable natural gas production, farmers all over are seeing the positive environmental impact that it brings.
Anaerobic digestion provides farms the ability to improve their waste management practices by storing manure in an encapsulated reservoir, eliminating the potential for waste run-off into local waterways and reducing groundwater contamination.
Further, the release of methane from dairy farms accounts for most of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by agriculture. When released into the atmosphere, methane emits approximately 84 times more greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. Capturing, instead of releasing methane from waste, improves air quality for your farm and surrounding community.
Is your farm ripe for RNG?
As market pressures on farmers are intensifying, exploring renewable natural gas is the first step to ensuring long-term success. We’ve partnered with many dairies to fast-track their renewable natural gas development project and access to financial benefits that come along with it.
Farms with at least 3,000 milking cows are the best candidates for renewable natural gas production because of the gas volumes their herd can produce. If your farm meets this requirement — let’s talk!