Anaerobic Digesters

Livestock and dairy producers can use anaerobic digesters to generate and capture biogas from animal manure. Biogas, which is mostly methane, is a renewable fuel that can support energy needs on the farm.1

How do anaerobic digesters work?

anaerobic digester
An anaerobic digester at the UF/IFAS Dairy Research Unit. UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones.

Anaerobic digesters process manure in a closed environment without oxygen (anaerobic means “without oxygen”). As microbes in the digester decompose (digest) the manure, they release methane and other gases (biogas). The decomposed manure is also an excellent fertilizer that can be used to grow crops.1 Anaerobic digesters aren’t just for large operations—they can be used on a small farms, too!2

Why is biogas green?

Unlike fossil fuels, which contain carbon that has been stuck underground and not circulating in the environment for millions of years, biogas is made from matter that is already part of the carbon cycle. This means that burning biogas as fuel does not introduce new carbon that wasn’t already in the environment. Capturing and using biogas decreases reliance on fossil fuels and also reduces methane emissions from livestock operations.3

Learn more about biogas at

  1. Rishi Prasad, George Hochmuth, and Ann C. Wilkie, Anaerobic Digesters for Manure Management at Livestock Operations, SL401, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2014,
  2. “Small Farm Digesters,” Biogas: A Renewable Fuel, 2015,
  3. Ann C. Wilkie, “Opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through livestock waste management in Florida,” in Opportunities for Greenhouse gas Reduction through Forestry and Agriculture in Florida, (Gainesville: University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment, 2008), 33–38,

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones


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Posted: February 22, 2016

Category: Agriculture, Livestock, SFYL Hot Topic
Tags: Agriculture Hot Topic, Anaerobic Digester, Biogas, Climate Change, Global Warming, Greenhouse Gases, Methane, Renewable Energy

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