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Exeter farm creates 'cow power'

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Maine farm turns waste and manure into heat and electricity

EXETER - To some, farming may be considered a traditional or old-fashioned way of making a living in Maine, but one farm in Exeter is proving just how modern farming has become. Stonyvale farm, which is less than a 45 minute drive from Bangor, is the first of its kind in the state to come up with a way to turn waste and manure into heat and electricity.

"There are approximately 140 digesters in the U.S. This is the first one in Maine," said John Wintle, operations manager at Exeter agri-energy, which owns and operates the anaerobic digestion system at Stonyvale.

The farm held a press conference last week to announce this new innovation that is not only helping the environment but also allowing Stonyvale to keep its costs down.

"After the manure goes through the digester, it separates the solids, which we can use for bedding for the animals," explained Travis Fogler, dairy operations manager for Stonyvale. "The liquid we store and spread on the fields for crops, which is better than manure with solids in it."

However, that's only a small portion of what the digester can do. The majority of the animal and food waste used in the anaerobic digestion system produces biofuel, which is then burned to produce electricity and heat.

"The facility produces enough heat for 300 U.S. homes and power for 800 residents," explained Adam Wintle, managing partner for Biogas Energy Partners, the development firm for Stonyvale.

It's a fresh, new and innovative way of using something that's always been considered a dirty and smelly downside of farming.

"The family here has taken various waste products on the farm and limited its impact on the environment," said Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. "One major benefit of this is unlike the wind, it doesn't start and stop. These cows never stop."

And with 1,000 of the mooing mammals on site producing thousands of gallons of waste, there's no shortage of material for the digesters to process either.

"I think there's a bright future in the energy industry and farming industry and I'm happy to be a part of it," said Fogler.


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