The increased costs of energy and the potential greater prices paid for renewable energy is making methane capture from animal manures more economically feasible. Combined with this is the greater intensification of the dairy industry with the use of feedpads/indoor barns, the growth in the beef cattle feedlot sector and pig production facilities generally increasing in size. With a better understanding of the manure production rates and the economically feasible size of these industries, a greater uptake of the existing technology to recover energy from these intensive animal industries will occur.
This study measured the manure production of a number of feedlots to gain more accurate and relevant data for the BEEF-BAL model and Methane to Markets project. The study provides measured data of total solids (TS), volatile solids (VS) and moisture content of feedlot manure at various stages of decomposition. These data were used to put back into BEEF-BAL model to improve the TS, VS and moisture content estimates that are currently used and validate the model. Accurate waste estimation techniques are required to allow developers and proponents to predict volatile solids (organic matter) and hence methane production from intensive livestock industries and to assess the economic feasibility of capturing methane from a particular enterprise. This information will also allow the size of systems to be designed to match the size of the enterprise.