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UW-Oshkosh works with dairy farm on digester

July 18, 2013 | 0 comments

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh has started construction on a $7 million digester and public education center at the state's largest dairy farm.

The digester at Rosendale Dairy will use livestock waste to produce methane that can be burned for power. It is expected to produce enough energy to operate the equivalent of 1,200 homes, according to Oshkosh Northwestern Media.

Sale of power produced by the digester will generate carbon credits for the university and help it reach its green energy goals.

Students and faculty also will use the digester for research and learning. UW-Oshkosh Foundation President Arthur Rathjen described the project as good for all involved.

"Here was an opportunity for us to expand our curriculum and expand research with our faculty as well as afford new technology to the area and help solve a community problem that the town of Rosendale was dealing with, which was waste elimination and odor remediation." Rathjen said.

The Rosendale digester is the third built by the university in as many years. It built one in 2011 in Oshkosh, across the Fox River from the university campus.

Its second one was built last year at a farm in Larsen. All three digesters have been built as part of a partnership between the UW-Oshkosh Foundation and a German company, Viessmann Group.

Rosendale Dairy's owners said the project was a way to address neighbors' concerns about waste produced by the farm's 8,500 cows and reduce odors.

"One of the very first things we heard in the community was we wanted a digester," said Jim Ostrom, Milk Source co-founder and partner. "It's taken five years, but we're really happy it's finally come."

The digester will break waste down into methane and residue that farmers can use as fertilizer, Ostrom said. Previously, farmers in the area brought that type of fertilizer in from such places as Florida and Canada, he said.

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