The Volkweis family's farm, an integrated unit of the C-Vale Agroindustry in the regional production chain of pork and poultry, obtains biogas from the biodigestion of waste biomass (pig manure). This fuel is used to cook food and supply electricity for the production process at the property. The biofertilizer resulting from this process is used on the pastures and for corn production, which directly reduces environmental liability.

With lower production costs, the implemented technological process has proved essential to make production more financially feasible. The energy self-sufficiency also enabled greater automation of the productive processes, resulting in a better quality of life for family farmers.


A - General Information


START: July 2011 (in progress)

EXECUTING ENTITY: Municipal Council of Toledo

CO-EXECUTING ENTITY: Biokohler Biodigestors

PARTNERSHIPS: Itaipu Technological Park Foundation – FPTI; Institute of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension of Parana – EMATER; International Centre of Renewable Energy – CIBiogás; C-Vale Agroindustrial Cooperative

PRESENTED BY: José Augusto Souza

RESOURCES: Own resources

COST RANGE: Over USD 25,000

CATEGORY: Reference Unit

MAIN THEMATIC AREA: Renewable energy

KEY WORDS: Biodigestor; Biogas; Family Farming; Sustainability; Renewable Energy; Toledo.  

TARGET PUBLIC: Family farmers inserted in the pork and dairy production chain.

LOCATION: Rural Area


SPECIFIC AREA OF IMPLEMENTATION: Linha São Pedro, Municipality of Toledo, Paraná. 


B - Practice Description



The extensive production of poultry and pigs that is typically found in family farms in the west of Parana is characterized by the environmental risks related to the contamination of bodies of water, springs and the agricultural land due to the high concentration of animal manure; high production costs; low quality of life due to the excessive labour that is essentially from the family; local discomfort due to the bad smell; the proliferation of diseases and insects; and the gradually lower productive capacity of the soil.

For poultry production, where most of the family production units do not have automated processes, the younger farmers are usually responsible for the hard work of collecting firewood for the oven that heats the animals every three hours, even during the cold nights. This tends to push young people away from rural activities and forces them to seek better living conditions in the cities.

In order to find a solution for these challenges, rural producers, technicians of cooperatives and integrating companies, extensionists and social workers of the EMATER and of the municipality itself sought to implement sustainable productive technologies and practices. At the property of the Volkweis family, the children directly participate in making the implemented technological improvements.



To ensure the self-sufficiency of productive activities by using pig manure, and to reduce the environmental liability of the rural production unit (RPU) by implementing the efficient biodigestion of waste biomass, leading to rural sustainable development.

Specific objectives:


  • To significantly reduce environmental liabilities and greenhouse gas emissions;
  • To add value to the agricultural production chain by reducing the costs of production with the use of biomethane (filtered biogas) for thermal and electrical power at the RPU;
  • To help improve the quality of life of the family and enable the adequate succession of their rural property;
  • To increase the productivity of farming soil by correctly treating pig manure and applying biofertilizer through fertirrigation.




The process started with the installation of biodigestors for the sanitary treatment of manure and organic waste from the farming of confined pigs. The size of the biodigestor was calculated according to the species and number of animals, and to the type of production and management.

The manure from pig production is transported through a gravity channelling system to the biodigestor, where fermentation by anaerobic bacteria occurs for 30 days. During this time, the resulting biogas is filtered and transported through ducts to the storage tanks.

Training for the correct management of this system is permanent for the first year, with at least one monthly visit. In the second year, regular visits are also arranged to verify that the system is managed correctly.

The biogas is used directly as fuel in the domestic stove to cook food and turn on the lamp that heats the 16 thousand chickens (termination system) in the brooder. Part of the biogas is transformed into electricity using an adapted motor generator, which supplies the energy for the equipment (refrigeration, feeding, lighting) that automates poultry production in the property.

Once the residual mass (animal manure) has passed through the biodigestion process, it is used as a biofertilizer through the fertirrigation of the corn cultivation areas and the pastures used as hay for the property.



  • Volume of the produced biogas is 500 m³/day in production peak periods;
  • Use of biogas for generating electricity has helped to significantly reduce of the cost of poultry production (approximately 70% of the electricity costs). The produced electricity is also used for self-consumption, to meet domestic demands, and for pumping the biofertilizer for the fertirrigation system;
  • The cost of heating the birds was reduced by 100%, since the firewood and LPG heating system was replaced with biogas. The biogas is also used as fuel for the domestic stove and oven that is adapted for cooking food;
  • Better quality of life and maintenance of the children in the property due to the extra income (greater productivity at a lower cost) and a significant reduction in the work load due to the automated productive process;
  • The risk of water and soil pollution, of bad smells, of the proliferation of diseases and insects, and of greenhouse gas emissions was significantly reduced;
  • The restructuring of soil aggregates directly improved fertilization in terms of humidity retention. The use of biofertilizers in the crops resulted in continuously increased productivity of corn and pastures.



The resources needed for investments in equipment vary according to the production system, the management systems and the number of pigs.

In the Volkweis family farm, the required resources were labour, machines and equipment to open the tanks and install the biodigestor system and for creating the ponds to store the biofertilizer. Other resources were pressure and suction pumps, piping, filters and flare (surplus biogas burning system). Process operationalization requires the motor generator, biomethane storage tanks and a gas lamp system for heating the birds.

The available family manpower (a couple and their two children are currently working on the property) is enough to meet all the requirements of good practices for the production of biogas and other activities performed in the property. 

The resources for this type of investment can be obtained through credit lines that are available for family farmers, such as the PRONAF ECO.




Several groups linked to the producers associations and cooperatives have visited the property. Other visitors include professors of the agrarian sciences course at the UNIOESTE de Marechal Cândido Rondon and PUCPR – Toledo universities.

In the municipality of Toledo alone, there are approximately 100 biodigestors in full operation. Recently, another property in the municipality of Toledo implemented a similar biodigestion system after observing the one that was implemented at the Volkweis family's farm.



This experience showed that in order to implement a system to generate and use biogas made of animal-origin biomass, the first step is to size the production scale, since this can limit the financial feasibility of the project. The organization of producers from a given region, community or micro basin in the form of a “Agroenergy Condominium” can increase the sustainability of this process by means of gains of scale.

This practice has proved to be extremely viable and positive in the rural regions, since it transforms a serious environmental liability into an important economic asset at a time in which alternative energy sources are scarse. The benefits are socialized in a relationship where every wins: the rural producer, the community, the municipality, integrating companies and the end consumer.

Significant improvements to the quality of life of rural families is a benefit that positively contributes to factors of gender and generation (property succession).

The greatest foreseen obstacles are the legal milestones, as the productive sector is still the subject of various inquiries in this sense.



The practice of encouraging the implementation of biodigestor systems was initiated by the Institute of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension of Paraná - EMATER. In the last 10 years, with the entrance of several actors, such as ITAIPU Binacional, and with the help of the Itaipu Technological Park Foundation – FPTI, and more recently of CIBiogás, the development of this technology has steadily increased.

Hundreds of properties in the west of Paraná, in the last 15 years, have implemented residual biomass processing projects, although not to the extent of this project.


Scheduled visits are available all year.

Number of visitors: from 01 to 15.

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