Bakerview EcoDairy

 Quick Facts

Project proponent Bill Vanderkooi
Location Bakerview EcoDairy ( 1356 Sumas way, Abbotsford, BC) map
Technology supplier Avatar Energy
Digester description Scalable modular plug flow with trickling filter system
Feedstock Manure from 50 lactating cows and locally produced whey and bakery byproducts
Output uses On-farm electricity and heat, cow bedding and fertilizer
Additional benefits Reduced non-point source water pollution, odour and greenhouse gas emissions
Greatest challenge Funding availability
Progress to date 7/10
Anticipated commissioning Comissioned



Bill Vanderkooi was raised on a dairy farm in Abbotsford, BC. In 1988 Bill spent four years at Dordt College in Iowa before going to graduate school at Michigan State University. In 1994 Bill retuned to BC with an MSc in animal science, and has been here ever since.

Bill is the general manager for the Nutriva group and he and his wife Helinda have just had their fifth child, giving them a full house of two boys and three girls. Bill has been married for eleven years.


How did you first hear about AD?
Bill first heard about AD through his friends, the Vander Haaks in Lynden, Washington. The Vander Haaks have a two stage – modified mixed plug flow digester that handles manure from three dairies (up to 1,500 cows).

Why did you decide to adopt AD on your farm?
Last summer, Bill was among a group of 20 participants education mission organized by the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands that spent a week visiting on-farm and experimental digesters in Vermont, US. Whilst on this mission, Bill got very excited about one of the experimental that was visited (Avatar Energy). The reason for this excitement was that the digester in question shows great potential to be economically feasible on his dairy farm.

Digester location
Bill’s AD project, which will be an undertaking between Bakerview EcoDairy Ltd and Avatar Energy, will be located at 1356 Suma way, Abbotsford, BC (northwest corner of Highway 11 and the Trans Canada highway, known as the Sumas Interchange).

The digester will be built on Bill’s Bakerview EcoDairy, a small, but fully functional demonstration dairy farm that will showcase innovative and sustainable farming practices. Fully accessible to the public, in effect an Agri Tourism development, the EcoDairy will include an on-site theatre and meeting room, static and interactive displays and green technologies, such as robotic milking, green roof, solar, wind, and of course, the digester.

Digester description
Avatar Energy’s digester system is a scalable modular plug flow digester with a trickling filter system. Manure from the cows and other feedstocks will be heated to about 38 Celsius before entering the long cylindrical digester, which has an eight feet diameter. Over 21 days the manure will travel through the heated cylinder, producing biogas (a methane rich gas) and digestate (the fully digested feedstock).

A screw type separator will then be used to separate the digestate into a solid fibrous fraction and a liquid effluent fraction. The liquid fraction will then go through theAvatar Trickling Filter System. This system (essentially an elevated vertical conical tank), by trickling the liquid over a sock with a bunch of plastic in it, will separate phosphorus and potassium from the liquid digestate.  

The Avatar system is ideal for the Bakerview EcoDairy as it was designed for small to medium sized dairy farms. By improving upon the existing plug flow architecture and including specific design features to enable inexpensive maintenance and straightforward operation, the Avatar system lends itself to farms with between 75 and 600+ head of cattle (as well as those that have access to alternate digester feedstocks such as whey, bakery byproduct and food waste).

The Bakerview EcoDairy digester will digest manure from 50 lactating cows as well as some locally produced whey and bakery byproducts

Output use
The two main outputs of the digester will be biogas and digestate. The biogas will be used to generate green, renewable electricity and hot water for use on the farm, while the digestate will be separated. The dry solid fibrous fraction of the digestate will be used as bedding for the cows, while the liquid fraction will be used as fertilizer.

Additional benefits
There are many additional benefits to building a digester. These include reductions in non-point source water pollution and odour from fertilizer application, and on-farm greenhouse gas emissions. Digesters can also help increase the long-term sustainability of agriculture by providing new sources of revenue and reducing farm operating costs.

Project difficulties
To date, the greatest challenge facing Bill’s digester project is securing funding to support the project development. This funding is necessary to help overcome the risks of adopting a technology that is new to BC. 

What could be done to help reduce these difficulties?
One way to help overcome the difficulty of securing funding would be to create an AD funding program. This funding program would help overcome the financial barriers often faced with renewable energy projects and would thus facilitate the wide‚Äźspread adoption of digesters in BC.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being excellent) how would you describe progress to date?

Expected project milestones

  • Secure project funding by early 2010.
  • Complete construction by spring 2010.
  • Commission digester in spring 2010.

Do you have any advice to others potential digester operators?
One of the most important things to do before building a digester is to make sure that the economic make sense. If the project doesn’t look economically feasible, then you should consider alternative technologies.

  • February 6, 2014
    2014 Agri-energy Forum
    Check out the AD Presentations from the 2014 Agri-energy Forum
  • January 6, 2014
    New Canadian Biogas Study
    New Report Highlights Benefits to the Economy, Environment and Energy
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