Patterson Dairy Farms

Auburn, New York
Anaerobic Digester
Section 9006 Grant: $296,622

Patterson Dairy Farms is a 7th generation farm with 1,700 dairy cattle and 2,400 acres of land. In 1999, the farm installed a manure treatment system as a first step in controlling odors but eventually decided that an anaerobic digester would be the best means of managing their manure while generating electricity at the same time. In addition to the Section 9006 grant, the farm also received grants from the New York State Energy and Development Authority and the Cayuga County Soil and Water District towards a total project cost of $1.4 million.

The digester was completed in October 2005. The digester handles not only the manure from the farm but also 18,000 gallons of cheese whey that is delivered daily to the farm from the Kraft Foods cream cheese plant located in nearby Lowville.

The biogas produced from the digester produces 4,500 kwh of electricity per day (enough electricity for over 100 homes). Electricity is sold to New York State Electric and Gas under a net metering arrangement, allowing the farm to offset its $75,000 annual electric bill.

“The digester helps us to be better neighbors and better stewards of our land while generating all of our farm’s electric needs” said Connie Patterson. “But this project would not have happened without the support we got from USDA and other sources. Right now, the capital costs are just too high and the price we get for the electricity is too low.”