Hog power: good for the farm, better for the planet

The Kansas City StarFebruary 13, 2009 

DODGE, Neb. - Where others see simply manure, Danny Kluthe smells money.

Long before President Barack Obama promised the country that "we will harness the sun and the winds and the soil," Kluthe already had yoked the power of pig poop.

Manure from his hogs drains as a slurry into a giant vat. It is stirred and warmed. A virtually odorless liquid ---ideal for fertilizing surrounding fields that, in turn, feed more pigs -- emerges from the giant digester. The real beauty, though, comes in the methane fumes that rise off the muck. They are funneled to a tractor engine and used to power a generator. Suddenly his electrical utility is writing checks to him.

"There will be a day when there will not be a hog facility or a dairy built without one of these things," Kluthe said. "This," he said with the glee of someone who has figured out how to spin straw into gold, "just makes too much sense."

What helps save the farm could help save the planet. Because Kluthe doesn't let the methane from hog waste waft away, his sewage lagoons pack one-twentieth the climate-changing punch they would otherwise.

Read the full story at kansascity.com.

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