Win-win for dairy farmers and hydroelectricity

Biogas as a substitute for conventional fuels for cooking
La Angostura, hydroelectric dam in Turrialba, Costa Rica

05/24/2015

In the upper area of La Angostura, the hydroelectric dam in Turrialba, Costa Rica, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) work with 250 dairy farmers to strengthen their technical capacities related to integrated manure management. The aim is for the farmers to increase their use of cut and carry pastures, improve grazing management, use bio-digesters, and utilize the solid manure as fertilizer. ICE and MAG offer the farmers partial assistance with the installation of bio-digesters and rest areas for cows. The integrated manure management that ICE and MAG are promoting is an important win-win situation: it lowers production costs for farming families, decreases the environment of production by reducing emissions, and improves operation of the hydroelectric dam.
The farming families reduced their energy bills by up to 50% by utilizing the biogas. At the same time the farmers could reduce their purchases of synthetic fertilizers by up to 50% by collecting and drying the manure from the rest areas and using it to fertilize both grazing and cut-and-carry pastures. This practice also leads to less mastitis in the dairy cows, yielding further gains for the farmers.
The situation is a win for ICE too, as these practices help to reduce sedimentation in the dam reservoir from run-off solid manure. Less sedimentation lowers the maintenance costs and increases the lifespan of the hydroelectric dam.
The practices also reduce methane emissions from animal manure and nitrous oxide emissions from using synthetic fertilizers.