Cream O’Galloway, Rainton Farm, Scotland
The farm converted to organic 20 years ago and now produces organic ice cream and cheese and has a successful visitor centre.
Field lab: Anaerobic digestate
Anaerobic digestion of animal slurries involves the breakdown of organic matter to produce electricity from biogas and a by-product known as digestate. The digestate has less odour, contains fewer viable weed seeds and pathogens than the input slurry, and is a bio-fertiliser. David has installed the UK’s first micro-AD unit and has trialled the use of the digestate as fertiliser.
Can you tell us about your AD unit?
Before I started on this journey I found that farmers interested in using Anaerobic Digesters (AD) were being encouraged to look at larger systems for commercial return. I wanted to find a way of creating an AD unit that was robust, user friendly and cheaper than the normal industrial ones, bringing it within financial reach of many livestock farmers.
What we have developed is a system that a farmer and a local garage can manage. The cost is really quite affordable and the potential for roll out is enormous.
What impact has the field lab had?
We can say we built our own AD system, we crunched the numbers and fed into the group to show results. We know how much silage we’ve made, we know the yields, we know how much energy we’ve generated, we know about the smell, we know there aren’t crowds of birds eating the worms after the slurry is spread, the tractors are not running up and down the fields compacting the soil – this has all happened because of the field lab.
I think people come along to the field labs because they are interested in a sustainable and economically viable system. A lot of farmers are going direct to industry for help when we should be working with advisors and other farmers. The group of farmers involved in the field lab are certainly open to the idea of AD via sustainable systems.
I think people come along to the field labs because they are interested in a sustainable and economically viable system. A lot of farmers are going direct to industry for help when we should be working with advisors and other farmers.