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Up Shit Creek? That’s exactly where today’s farmers want to be

February 20, 2009

In the mean time, while Detriot is figuring out all to get all of its ducks/cars in a row, local communities are not holding their breath.  One Californian dairy farmer has rolled out its own survival package in the form of a cow-pie powered 18-wheeler. As a child, I recall visiting my friend who lived on a farm. We would stand outside her holding tank of manure, scratch our heads, hold our noses, and threaten to push each other in if we gave too much sass. I never thought to ask whatever happened to that manure when it finally filled up, but I’m happy to see that there are now more viable solutions than those (literally) stinking hot summer days on the farm. To be more specific, Hilarides Dairy manages the manure made by 10,000 cows to create 226,000 cubic feet of biomethane each day. This will decrease their Central Valley farm’s diesel fuel consumption by 650 gallons a day!

“Money is the most powerful incentive,” Cecily says. “It is certain that gas prices are going to rise to unseen levels again and farmers need to find a way to protect their interests. Rather than waiting to see if car companies to re-organize in a more sustainable manner, farmers are being innovative themselves.”

To me, the best part about this particular plan is that it shows progress from our initial platforms. The sustainability headlines have long been profiling people who have been using leftover oil and grease from local restaurants to power cars and buses. A major drawback to this is that the collection process can be long and tedious – traveling to and from area restaurants and transporting large volumes of grease to an adequate staging area is no easy task. By producing biomethane fuel on factory farms where  large amounts of manure are already available will significantly diminish this problem.

If the stimulus package is able to restore some of the economy’s liquidity, sustainability is definitely one of the first realms of promise that private investors could look into. “The auto industry does not have the capacity to re-tool its entire system to work in favor of sustainability. That would be a too daunting of a task in the present moment,” Cecily comments. “But private investors with a view for the future  could certainly step up and provide funding for pilot projects that focus on fuel-efficient cars and manage these relationships for the time being. This is an excellent time for innovation.” So yes, shit happens, but the good news is, we can make it sustainable.

Here are a few related links to browse:

Zero Pollution Motor Cars – The Air Car

Gas 2.0   Oils, Biofuel, A Revolution

Chinese firm launches hybrid car

The video below is of a farmer in India who has proved that the manure-to-methane process is even effective on a small-scale. He uses one cow to create the cooking gas needed for a family of four.

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