Do You Know ... What Is a Digester?

  • Article
  • 1 min read September 30, 2019

Do you know cow manure can be turned into useful energy? 

That’s thanks in part to digesters, which help dairy farmers make cow poop something we can all use.

Micro-organisms break down organic materials like cow manure or food waste in a process called anaerobic digestion. This happens in a closed tank, where there’s no oxygen, called a digester. On a dairy farm, digesters come in a range of sizes and styles.

Anaerobic digestion is a natural process in which micro-organisms break down organic materials like cow manure or food waste. They get this done in a closed space where there’s no oxygen.

There, bacteria break down the cow manure and food waste, creating biogas, which can be used for electricity, heat, compressed natural gas and even vehicle fuel.

Digesters can also create other materials, or coproducts, like fertilizers, compost or even comfortable cow bedding. It's just one of the ways dairy farms contribute to healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy planet.

You can read more about dairy’s environmental commitment in these videos, “Ask a Dairy Farmer: What Are You Doing for the Environment” and “Ask a Dairy Farmer: How Do Farmers Reuse Water?” And here are even more stories about what the dairy community does to protect the planet.