When Danny Kluthe fills the fuel tanks in the bed of his Chevy pickup, he drives off without paying a cent. The pigs at Danny and Josie Kluthe’s Bacon Hill Farms have already picked up the tab.

“I’m probably the only farmer who gets 70 miles per gallon from his Duramax diesel pickup,” Danny quips. And he’s not kidding. For every gallon of diesel he buys at the pump, he can drive more than 70 miles. The truck has been converted to run on a mix of 80% CNG (compressed natural gas) and 20% diesel fuel. And that natural gas has been harvested from Bacon Hill’s on-farm anaerobic manure digester.

Swine manure is not a “waste” product at this Dodge, Neb., hog operation — far from it. Manure on this farm becomes a resource that would make any Saudi prince proud. The digester, installed in 2005 during an expansion of the Bacon Hill finishing site, also produces enough methane gas to power a Cat 3306 engine turning an 80-kilowatt generator. That setup makes enough electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to meet the demands of about 50 homes.

“The digester is basically a living entity, so we provide it with a feeding of manure every day,” Danny says. “The pigs then replace that manure. I would call that the ultimate renewable energy source.”