116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Iowa Senate on Monday passed a bill allowing anaerobic digesters, rather than open-air manure pits, at animal feeding operations.
House File 522 passed 38-7 with no discussion after a brief introduction by Sen. Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa.
“Current law requires manure structures utilize oxygen, an aerobic digestion process,” he said.
Anaerobic digesters, which have been used at wastewater treatment plants for decades, can convert manure and food waste into methane, which then can be changed into electricity and heat. The leftover digestate, which doesn’t smell like manure, can be applied to farm fields.
But several Iowa environmental groups say claims about the benefits of digesters and biogas are inflated. They fear promotion of anaerobic digesters will encourage more large-scale animal confinements.
Iowa has only four on-farm digester systems.
One is AgriReNew, a two-digester system at a 2,300-head cattle farm near Stockton. Two of the other operations — Amana Farms, with 4,000 cattle near Amana, and Top-Deck Holsteins, a 700-head dairy farm in Westgate — also generate biogas, which then is turned into electricity or heat. Boland Farms, with 2,400 cattle in Williamsburg, has a covered manure lagoon to prevent odor, but does not reuse the methane.
The Iowa House still would need to approve HF 522 before it would go to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her signature.
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