July 14th, 2015
One of the major dairy farm regions in the UK, which has been producing milk products for over 900 years, is now leading the way towards agricultural carbon emissions reduction.
Since the 1980’s, as farms in the region stepped up production, cows have gradually produced less milk, and droughts have taken a toll on the quality of grass for their consumption. Old ideas like using chemical fertilizer only made matters worse. Then came the installation of an anaerobic digester, a natural waste processing facility, something like a giant compost container.
With the help of the digester the farm has been able to produce their own high grade non-chemical fertilizer. They have also reduced the amount of waste the farm produces, as well as electricity required from the national grid, with methane gas being converted for both electricity and heating for the farm. To put it in numeric terms, the process takes just over 2 months and creates 500 kw of electricity, 750 kwh of heat and 13,000 tons of fertilizer. Which means that livestock get quality feed, and the local community becomes more energy independent while producing less waste and overall having a much reduced carbon foot print. Not bad for a bunch of cows.
When the Kyoto Protocol was originally passed in 1996 it required significant reductions in methane gas production. Almost half of that production came from landfill. Agricultural communities in places like Germany, UK and the US (among others) are investing heavily in anaerobic digestion, to make food production more efficient, sustainable, and in line with international environmental targets.
Photo: kqedquest / flickr