Skip to content

Biodigester to ease odour woes in the Foothills, says feedlot

Rimrock Feeders near High River proposes to build biodigester that would turn feedlot byproducts into renewable natural gas.
NEWS- Rimrock Construction RK 8550WEB(1)
Preliminary work takes place in preparation for a biodigester at Rimrock Feeders in Foothills County on Aug. 27. The biodigester would turn feedlot byproducts into renewable natural gas and, Rimrock claims, reduce feedlot odours.

Rimrock Feeders plans to build a biodigester it claims will help mitigate odours at its feedlot in Foothills County. 

Representatives of the feedlot raised the possibility during a Sept.12 council meeting in High River. They were at the meeting to discuss management practices the feedlot uses to mitigate odours at their 35,000-head feedlot west of High River.

During the meeting, feedlot CFO Kendra Donnelly called the biodigester a "huge investment" and said “(it) would be another (example) of us investing in something that we feel will mitigate odour.” 

"It's one way we can mitigate odour, but we're going to have odour, and we're trying our best to mitigate it as best as we can," she added.

Feedlot byproducts will be put in the biodigester on a daily basis, Donnelly said. 

"The fact that we can go in there and remove that manure every single day, and put it in the biodigester, just logically, we feel felt like that would be an odour mitigation,” she said.

During the council meeting, Coun. Kelly Killick-Smit asked how much the biodigester would reduce the odour.   

Donnelly was unable to answer specifically.  

“There's some research out there on odour mitigation, but we don't want to promise anything,” Donnelly said. “But logically, we feel like we can prevent odour by putting the manure into a biodigester, which captures the gas.”   

The proposed biodigester would process about 10 tonnes of manure each month by an anaerobic process and would make renewable natural gas that Rimrock would sell as green fuel. 

High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass said that although work has begun on the site, the project is not yet formally approved. 

“There's dirt being removed for the biodigester at this point in time,” Snodgrass said. “But that's at their risk, because they're not even permitted for that yet.” 

If approved, construction of the biodigester is expected to begin next spring and wrap up by the end of 2023. 

"We hope to be starting up in January, 2024," Donnelly said. 

Rimrock plans to build the biodigester in partnership with Tidewater Renewables Ltd., which will have a 51 per cent stake in the renewable natural gas partnership between the two companies.

The biodigester is expected to have a capital cost $65 to $70 million to build and “has received material government grant support” according to an earlier press release by Tidewater Renewables Ltd. 

A public notice about the proposed biodigester, posted by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) from July 12 until Aug. 11, said people directly affected by the project were able to send statements of concern to the government regulator. 

It was posted at “multiple locations,” said AEP, which confirmed receiving several statements of concern about the project. Details of the statements are not yet available. 

During High River council's Sept. 26 meeting, NRCB compliance manager Kevin Seward said permits and approvals for the biodigester would come from AEP and not the NRCB.

"As far as the permitting and the function of the actual biodigester, that's Alberta Environment," Seward said. "Questions about the biodigester, we can't answer them."