Dairy Farmers of Washington Member Wins 2014 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award


Lynnwood, WA — The Dairy Farmers of Washington announced Vander Haak Dairy has received the Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy Award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, as part of its 3rd Annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards.      

Vander Haak Dairy was the first farm to install an anaerobic digestion system in Washington state.  The digester is a closed system that uses anaerobic bacteria and enzymes to break down organic molecules in animal and food waste.   Digestion causes the release of carbon dioxide and methane gas to generate electricity that is transferred directly to Puget Sound Energy's power grid.    

The Vander Haak digester system uses both cow manure and food waste to generate enough electricity to power 400 homes annually. It removes 70 percent of manure solids, recovering 600,000 pounds of ammonium sulfate fertilizer and 3 million pounds of phosphorus-rich solids – both of help in crop production.  

The awards program is part of the U.S. dairy industry’s commitment to advance the long-term economic, environmental and social sustainability of dairy farming. U.S. Dairy produced a case study on the Vander Haak digester system for public review.    

According to Craig Frear, Ph.D, Washington State University, the dairy industry, government and WSU scientists have been working in partnership on sustainable dairy farming systems for many years.  

“The partnership experimented with different technologies to convert dairy waste into renewable energy and marketable by-products,” Frear said. “The Vander Haak farm which, along with many other dairies in the state, has become a national leader in extending the digester for renewable energy to create marketable products making the economic investment in a digester a viable business option.”  

“The digester extends its renewable energy-generating value to include reducing odor and creating marketable by-products such as fertilizer,” says third-generation dairy farmer Steve Vander Haak.  “Phosphorus recovery from animal waste is more sustainable than traditional mining practices.  In addition, the digester generates a more environmentally friendly alternative to peat moss and reduces carbon emissions by 17,000 pounds annually.”  

“Our ongoing efforts have allowed us to upgrade power output by 25 percent and identify a string of new products and technologies,” Vander Haak said. “But the work isn’t over as there’s always opportunity to do more”. 



For Information Contact:

Pete DeLaunay (206) 682-3699



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