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Farmers Reminded Renewables Can Take Time

01 December 2014
National Farmers Union

UK - England's farmers are invited to view the anaerobic digestion (AD) plant that has been integrated into a new dairy unit at East Knockbrex Farm near Newton Stewart tomorrow.

This will be the second Renewable Development Initiative visit to see the unit being established by Iain Service. Since the last visit in February 2014, most of the 600 head of dairy cows are now in place at the farm and the 150kW AD plant is operational having been energised in October 2014.

As with all AD plants, there have been teething problems and this open day will give attendees an opportunity to see a system in the early stages of operation. The team involved will be on site to walk farmers through the process and discuss the initial issues that the plant has had.

For the host, Mr Service, there have been a number of challenges to getting this project pre-accredited, operational and connected to the grid which will be discussed on the day.

The RDI, co-ordinated by Thomas McMillan of Smiths Gore, is helping Scottish farmers and land managers fulfil their energy generating potential. Through a programme of on-farm events, the initiative has already shown hundreds of Scottish farmers energy projects that are contributing to farm businesses or are at the planning stage. RDI on-farm open days held across Scotland have looked at wind, solar, biomass, gas, hydro and anaerobic digestion.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Service said: “When we were planning our new dairy, we thought it made a lot of sense to utilise the slurry in a holistic approach which improves the fertiliser quality, reduces smells and also generates electricity and heat. Although AD is not a new technology, there were few plants within Scotland and the technical knowledge was hard to find.

“In my case, it took me some time to find a technology provider I had confidence in. It has taken more than four years to get our plans for anaerobic digestion to this stage. However, by sharing my story with other farmers, those interested in AD will get an idea of the work involved and hopefully get projects progressed in a faster timeframe.

“Although you are always better to have a firm deadline to get the project completed, realistic timescales are also important. If you are told that it will only take a year to complete the project, it will probably take at least two. My project has not moved forward as fast as it should have done but we are there now and others are invited to learn from my experience.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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