A small anaerobic digestion plant is helping cut electricity bills at Beech Grove Farm, near Leeds.
Dairy farmer Edward Goodall and his family installed an AD plant one year ago, and it is already cutting the farm’s electricity bills from about £4,500 a month to £1,000.
The farm has 162 hectares (400 acres) of grassland and about 430 Holstein Friesian cows and followers.
There is a large requirement for continuous on-site energy. The farm processes its own milk into 35,000 bottles and 10,000 litres of cartons weekly, produces ice cream and runs a farm cafe.
The digester uses slurry as feed and all energy is used on-farm. It powers five robotic milkers, walk-in and display fridges and freezers, heats the cafe and provides all its hot water, as well as for milk processing.
Rising electricity costs and the need to lower methane emissions were the reasons for installing the plant, says Mr Goodall.
The family put down a concrete pad and the installers constructed the digester in three days.
Mr Goodall says: “I monitor the plant on my phone.
“On average, I spend about half-an-hour per day looking after the plant.
“We service the engine about every three weeks and change filters. I think most people would be able to look after one of these, but you have to have the mindset to learn.”
Technicians from Belgian manufacturer Bioelectric are available any time on WhatsApp and company technicians visit once a month if needed. Other technicians are available for urgent problems.
Mr Goodall expects the bank loan for the plant to have been paid off within seven years.
Gary Hague, managing director of Dairy Energy, a consultant of Bioelectric, says: “Farmers are experiencing large hikes in energy prices.
“Dairy farmers are under increased pressure from their supply chain and public perception to address concerns regarding CO 2 production and harmful methane emissions; a farm-scale digester could help not only with long-term economics, but could be a real help with sustainability too.”