Digesting Dumped Dairy

April 15, 2020

Might your digester or a biogas system be asked to accept a large amount of milk? What are the implications? Recently, struggling dairy farmers have been told to dump their milk, amid the coronavirus outbreak. For many farms, market for their milk has disappeared overnight as restaurants and other food service industries have halted their business.  Nearly half of fluid milk normally gets processed into things like specialty cheese for the food service industry.  But the cows won’t stop producing milk, so what happens when large quantities of milk are sent to the on-site or a nearby anaerobic digester?  How does accepting large quantities of milk change the operation of the anaerobic digester—the chemistry, biology, mixing, heat load, and ultimately, the biogas production?  Our speakers, farmers and digester experts, will discuss what you can expect to keep your system running at top productivity and to minimize costly mistakes.

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Topics Covered

  • Which dairies are dumping milk and why?

  • How have digester owners responded already?

  • Changes in digester chemistry and biology

  • What mechanical adjustments are needed

  • Storage implications for milk, digestate, water

  • Operational challenges and optimizing your system


  • Craig Frear, Regenis
  • Bryan Sievers, AgriReNew/Sievers Family Farms
  • Bernie Sheff, PE, Montrose Environmental (Moderator)
  • Steve Dvorack, DVO, Inc