NRCS Practice Standard: Anaerobic Digester (366)

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NRCS Practice Standard: Anaerobic Digester (366)

About the Company:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s primary private lands conservation agency. The NRCS helps producers protect and conserve natural resources on private lands through voluntary conservation programs. Through Practice Standards and technical guides, the NRCS provides information about the conservation, energy resources, and provides personalized advice to individual producers.

The NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides technical and financial assistance to producers as they implement NRCS Conservation Practice Standards.

Technical guides used in each field office are localized so that they apply specifically to the geographic area for which they are prepared. Thus, while national guidelines have been provided as a framework for each standard, each state has adopted and modified the conservation practice standards to suit their individual landscape.

To find a local NRCS Service center click here.

To find the specific guideline for each state click here.

About the Solution:

Anaerobic Digester (366)

An anaerobic digester is a facility that provides biological treatment of animal waste in the absence of oxygen.

Practice Information

An anaerobic digester can be used to capture the biogas from animal manure so it can be used for energy production. It can also be used to manage odors, reduce the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce the pathogens in the manure.

To use this practice, the farm must be large enough to have a sufficient and suitable source of organic feedstock material. A 400-cow dairy would generally be considered large enough to warrant the use of an anaerobic digester.

An anaerobic digester does not change the volume of the material or the amount of nutrients in the waste stream. A portion of the nutrient are transformed from organic to inorganic matter. The by-products from the system will need to be utilized in accordance with the nutrient management plan.

The design of the digester and gas components must be in accordance with standard engineering practice for handling a flammable, toxic, and potentially explosive gas.

This practice has a minimum expected life of 25 years. Operation and maintenance of an anaerobic digester will be specific to the type of system selected.

Common Associated Practices

NRCS Conservation Practice Standard (CPS) Anaerobic Digester (Code 366) is commonly applied with other conservation practices such as:

  • Waste Storage Facility (Code 313)
  • Waste Transfer (Code 634)
  • Waste Separation Facility (Code 632)
  • Nutrient Management (Code 590)

  • Installation of an anaerobic digester must be included as a component of an agricultural waste management system plan.

    To view the national NRCS standard for anaerobic digestion please click here.

    Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, DC United States 1-833-ONE-USDA Visit Company Website

    Solution Type

    • Anaerobic Digestion


    • Others


    • Energy


    • GHG
    • Odor
    • Pathogens

    To view additional information about this vendor, click below.

    Solution Strengths, Weaknesses and Critical Indicators

    Anaerobic Digestion:

    • Long usable life and can be run reliably
    • Creates energy and generates environmental credits
    • Proper feeding & system monitoring is required to avoid system downtime
    • Proven technology for odor control
    • Proven technology for GHG reduction
    • Proven technology for pathogen reduction
    • Different types of systems produce varying gas production rates
    • Requires proper preparation of the feedstock
    • Requires other technologies for energy utilization
    • Requires other technologies for digestate handling
    • Requires other technologies to prevent nitrogen loss
    • Complex systems may require expertise not available on-farm

    Newtrient Comments/Opinions:

    Newtrient is using the USDA-NRCS conservation practice standards as tools to assist dairy producers in understanding the standards and how they can be used to address resources concerns.

    To establish a Practice Standard a system or practice must be thoroughly vetted, approved, and standardized by the USDA at the federal and state level. These conservation practices have been developed to address various environmental resource concerns. Newtrient has developed a 9-point scoring process for ranking additives, practices, services, and technologies for the dairy industry. Recognizing the rigorous approval procedure used during the development of the NRCS Practice Standards, many of them score very highly and are worthy of consideration on any dairy where they apply.

    The information provided here is a summary of the selected conservation practices. For up to date and detailed information related to the full Practice Standards, please see the USDA NRCS website, linked above.

    Newtrient 9-Point Scoring Rating

    View the Scoring Page

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