Real Farm Power begins in Hadley, Massachusetts.
Barstow Longview Farm has been a working dairy farm since 1806 and is currently operated by 6th generation brothers Steven and David Barstow and 7th generation Steven Barstow II. The family continued to sustain a living during the many rollercoaster years of the fluctuating dairy market without diversifying until the summer of 2008 when the family opened Barstow's Dairy Store and Bakery.
The 2014 launch of an anaerobic digester by BGreen on Barstow Longview Farm means many new opportunities.
In partnership with BGreen Energy, LLC, and Casella Organics, the project manages organic feedstocks from Bay State food companies, produces fertilizer products, generates renewable energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions while supporting small-scale farming. Manure and feedstock is mixed and digested to produce annually over 21,000 MWh of electrical energy, 7,040 MMBTUs of thermal energy, and 30,000 tons of liquid fertilizer.
Now the equivalent electricity needed to churn Cabot's butter at our West Springfield facility comes from the Barstow Longview Farm.
Cow Poop & Food Scraps Organic Materials In, Electricity Out
Barstow's Longview Farm has a herd of 450 animals. 250 are milking cows and the remaining are young replacement stock and steers. The barn housing the milk cows has pipes hooked up to the anaerobic digester. This manure, with the help of gravity and pumps, is funneled underground and into the digester every hour.
After the digester has captured and converted the gas to power, the cow manure and organic feedstock is far less smelly but is still nutrient rich. The liquid byproduct of digestion is piped underground to the blue slurry storage tanks. The Barstow's will fertilize their 400 acres of farmland with this fertilizer.
BGreen has contracted with recycling company Casella Organics, Inc. to supply organic feedstock to the farm. Manufacturing byproducts from companies become recycled feedstocks for the digester. The BGreen project through Casella meet both Cabot's key retailers and state government goals for organic diversion from landfills. The management of the nutrients on the farm meets or exceeds the standards set by the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Organic feedstocks arrive at the farm in liquid form and are piped from the delivery tanker to the underground storage tanks. The tank's heat is maintained by the hot water from the digester, keeping it a closed loop system. Every hour, the feedstock is added into the digester and mixed with the manure.
Barstow's Longview Farm receives organic material from 15 different food companies including their cooperative Agri-Mark, Inc., as well as Coca-Cola Company, Cains Foods, Inc., and HP Hood. Local supermarkets will be adding to the digester soon as well.
Electricity 1 Cow = 1 Home
The generator produces 285 kilowatts of electricity per hour at its highest level. This anaerobic digester produces 21,000 MWh per year. This is enough energy to power the equivalent of more than 250 homes. So the annual electricity needs of 250 homes is met thanks to 250 milking cows. But the actual use of the electricity from the digester is, first to provide the farm the electricity it needs and, second, to provide THE ELECTRICITY NEEDED TO CHURN CABOT CREAMERY BUTTER. This is arranged through a net metering agreement. The renewable energy credits (RECs) are not owned by Cabot Creamery; they are sold to benefit BGreen Energy, whose majority owner is Barstow's Longview Farm.
MWh = A unit for measuring power that is equivalent to one million watts. One megawatt is equivalent to the energy produced by 10 automobile engines.
MMBTU = 1,000 BTUs. A BTU is the amount of energy needed to cool or heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
An onsite transformer allows the local electric company to access the electricity.
The engine produces 1 million BTUs of heat per hour. Water, pushed through to cool the engine, exits the engine at 200F and is channeled through a heat recovery unit along with the engine exhaust. A portion of the hot water is used to maintain the constant 100F inside the digester, contributing to the closed loop of the process.
Hot water is produced from this process and used to heat the farm house, and the milking parlor. Because there is so much recovered heat, the Barstow's are working on expanding the use of this heat in other homes in the neighborhood. Using the hot water to run an air conditioning unit in the barn is another long-term project for the farm!
Environmental Benefits Repurposing Toward Zero-Waste
In addition to generating usable biogas, fertilizer, and electricity, Barstow's anaerobic digester also:
- Lowers manure methane emission and mitigates groundwater nutrient loads
- Provides a repurposing solution for local organics
- Decreases the amount of organic waste in landfills toward a zero-waste goal
- Replaces purchase and use of chemical fertilizers
- Improves crop yields
- Supports resource optimization — the concept of the highest and best use of all resources by fully utilizing all inputs and outputs from the system
- Allows the farm to move away from fossil fuels for heat and electricity
- Increases the sustainability of the food processing and selling industry in the Commonwealth
- The anaerobic digester blends farm manure, food scraps and food processing byproducts to produce biogas that runs a generator to produce 21,000 MWh a year of electricity — enough power to run more than 250 homes.
- The BGreen Anaerobic Digester is the second plant of its kind in Massachusetts. The first one can be found in Rutland, MA. Massachusetts was the first state to fully define a pathway for small farms to be permitted to use digesters that combine manure with organic food material from food processing plants.
- One cow produces enough electricity to power one average Massachusetts home.
- The digester process removes greenhouse gases equivalent to three cars per cow from the atmosphere.
- Major food companies including Cains Foods, HP Hood, and Coca-Cola, provide the farm with food scraps and byproducts instead of sending it to landfills.
- Nationwide, food leftovers are the single-largest component of the waste stream by weight. Food scraps make up 17 percent (29 million tons/year) of what we send to landfills, or enough to fill the Rose Bowl every three days!
- The process is a closed loop — everything is recycled, reused and repurposed, from the manure and food scraps that produce electricity; to the recovered heat the plant generates that will be used to heat the barns and farmhouse; to the organic fertilizer that remains after digestion that is used back on the land.
- This project will contribute to sustaining small and medium sized dairy farms while reducing odors, water run-off and the use of chemicals.
- All the equipment and services used to build the digester facility were made in the US — keeping manufacturing and construction jobs here.
- All the electricity needed to churn Cabot butter is produced on the Barstow Farm!!