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Shepherd cattle operation shares plans for eco-friendly feedlot

Turk Stovall at his Shepherd feedlot, a pile of manure in the background.
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
Turk Stovall at his Shepherd feedlot, a pile of manure in the background.

On a sunny, blue-sky weekday at Turk Stovall’s sprawling feedlot in Shepherd, employees drive machinery back and forth at the top of a broad hill. Below is a grid of fences—some are full of cattle, others contain giant piles of manure taller than the animals themselves.

Stovall says Yellowstone Cattle Feeders is partnering with New York-based Bion Environmental Technologies to turn the emissions from manure into fertilizer and fuel they can sell and use.

“Ultimately what this system does once it’s in full production is our facilities can be neutral, meaning we can provide the energy that we need to operate here,” Stovall said.

Stovall and Bion plan to capture methane and ammonia from the waste in a closed system that includes anaerobic digestion, or using microorganisms to break down organic material.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, anaerobic digestion of manure has contributed to a 50 percent decrease of feedlot emissions, which account for 14 percent of total emissions from cattle production. Stovall and Bion’s partnership just kicked off, and next steps include applying for permits and constructing a new facility at the feedlot.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.