Phase 3c Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is opening for applications around the 10th October 2023 and Colleges & Universities may be able to apply for funding renewable energy projects such as a Farm Scale Anaerobic digesters for Dairy Farms.
“It is vital that we focus our attention on climate change solutions whilst working in harmony with the environment”-
Paul Kelly -Park Farm, University of Cambridge
Biolectric Farm scale Anaerobic Digesters use agricultural dairy manure as a feedstock. These materials are loaded into a digester tank, where they are broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. The biogas produced is collected and stored, while the digestate is removed from the digester and can be used as fertilizer
There are a number of reasons why universities and college dairy farms should consider farm scale anaerobic digestion (AD):
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: AD can help dairy farmers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and converting methane from manure into biogas. This can be used to generate renewable energy, such as electricity or heat, which can be used on the farm or in campus buildings.
- Sustainability – Students need to understand that there are solutions that can make dairy farms more sustainable both financially and environmentally and circular farming can be the key.
- Improve manure management: AD can help dairy farmers improve their manure management by reducing odor, and by producing a nutrient-rich digestate that can be used as a fertilizer on crops.
- Generate additional income: Dairy farmers can generate additional income from AD by offsetting expensive fossil fuels, using digestate as fertilizer, or receiving government grants if available.
In addition to these environmental and economic benefits, AD can also provide a number of other advantages to dairy farmers, such as:
- Improved energy security: AD can help dairy farmers become more energy independent by reducing their reliance on fossil fuels.
- Reduced costs: AD can help dairy farmers reduce their costs by providing a source of renewable energy and by reducing the need to purchase fertilizer.
- Diversification: AD can help dairy farmers diversify their operations and reduce their risk.
Overall, farm scale AD offers a number of potential benefits for dairy farmers, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved manure management, additional income, improved energy security, reduced costs, and diversification.
Waste is only a waste if we waste it – Will.i.am
The benefits of digestate
Digestate is a good fertiliser. It is a nutrient-rich by-product of anaerobic digestion (AD), which is a process of breaking down organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Digestate contains a variety of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as organic matter, which can help to improve soil health.
Digestate can be used to fertilize a variety of crops, including grasses, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. It can also be used to fertilize lawns and gardens. Digestate is a slow-release fertilizer, which means that it releases nutrients to plants gradually over time. This helps to reduce the risk of nutrient runoff and leaching.
Digestate is a good alternative to synthetic fertilizers because it is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is also a good source of organic matter, which can help to improve soil health and structure.
Here are some of the benefits of using digestate as a fertilizer:
- It is a nutrient-rich fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
- It is a slow-release fertilizer, which means that it releases nutrients to plants gradually over time.
- It is a more sustainable and environmentally friendly fertilizer than synthetic fertilizers.
- It is a good source of organic matter, which can help to improve soil health and structure.
Park Farm – University of Cambridge – Case Study
Biolectric installed a 44kw slurry only farm scale AD system at Park Farm in 2021, since then the universities dairy herd has been generating renewable energy continually.
The University farm is milking 230 cows on a robotic milking system and wanted to make the farm more sustainable for the future.
Cambridge University’s Park Farm is the latest site to join LEAFS growing network of LEAF Demonstration Farms, in recognition of its exemplary sustainable farming practices and commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of its dairy enterprise.
“Even the smallest of changes can make a difference. From implementing new solar panels, LED lighting systems and an anaerobic digester for waste processing, to habitat creation and building soil organic matter percentage through regenerative soil practices, we continue to innovate and embrace new changes. By doing so, we have created a more circular farming system and continue to enhance economic sustainability.”
Paul Kelly – Farm Manager, Park Farm, University of Cambridge
If you have a dairy operation, I encourage you to learn more about farm scale AD and how it can benefit your college or university dairy farm.