A few organisations have just started working on a joint project to deal with diffuse pollution from farm-yard manure through the use of Anaerobic Digesters (AD) but using something called a Dry AD approach, which is not as it sounds it should be called ‘dryer’ AD. The challenge we are dealing is that with a lot of farm muck stores being outdoors and within water catchments a lot of the nutrients are washed out and down into water courses and case a lot of problems for us, wildlife and general ecology (eg the toxic blue-green algae we have been suffering from in some lakes, low water quality, low in fish and wildlife) Conversely the farm and food in general needs these nutrients to grow.
why AD? generally covering most of the rural areas would a) be prohibitively expensive with most small farms not able to afford and b) generally change the look of the things we hold most dear our countryside. but could also have an income stream but at worst be cost neutral going down the small AD route But the main challenge for a Farm Yard Manure (FYM) AD system is that a cow has already taken out most of the energy from the grass and so what will the bacteria within FYM live on? For this feasibility we are looking at adding crops such as soft rush, bracken and generally anything which is a non food crop and its management can enhance biodiversity and or food production. The other advantage is that we also get to manage the nutrients in the system and apply them at the right time of year in the right way to the crops which needs them.
From my side, I am interested in diffuse pollution element but methanee management as a climate changing gas and also the energy elements through the production of biogas. Especially with the move from fossil fuel in the next 20 or so years and to see if the farm could supply itself and the next range of tractors, use in a generator for heat and electricity generation in the farms and so on
For this work we are working with Seven Wye Energy Agency (Biomethane Regions), University of Wales (Wales centre of excellence for Anaerobic Digestion) Snowdonia National Park Authority. Thanks to Arloisi Gwynedd (EU Leader) for part funding this feasibility study with additional resources from the EU Biomethane Regions in three of our farms. As ever more to come!