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Farmers Tour UK Anaerobic Digestion Site

22 June 2012, at 12:00am

Farmers were given recently the opportunity to explore a fully operational anaerobic digestion (AD) facility at Glebe Farm, near Cirencester in the UK, reports editor, Gemma Hyland.

James Hart and his business partner, Jeremy Iles, had noticed the rising interest in anaerobic digestion and with their combination of available pig slurry, poultry litter and arable land, they had more than enough raw materials required to resource an AD plant.

The AD plant was built at Mr Hart’s 400-sow pig unit in 2010 and was fired up for the first time in April 2011.


James Hart (in blue cap) describing the new AD system to visiting farmers

The continuous flow mesosphilic AD plant cost £1.2 million to install, this was part-funded with the help of a £440,000 Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant.

Farmers were invited to take a tour of the site and ask any questions on the construction and operation of Mr Hart’s AD plant.

The anaerobic digestion facility was mainly self-built by Mr Hart, which allowed for significant savings on the entire construction cost.

“I had quotes from companies for around £30,000 to insulate the digester. I spent a little under £5,000 buying the materials and spent two full days doing it myself, with two other people. Things like that make significant savings for your budget, if you have the time and know-how. There was no real skill involved and no safety issues as such, and it resulted in huge savings.”

Mr Hart’s feedstock is made up of 40 tonnes of pig slurry per day, five tonnes of chicken litter per day, four tonnes of farmyard manure per day and four tonnes of maize silage per day.

The methane is then used to run a 350-kW generator, however, the maximum that can be delivered to the national grid from the site is 250kW.

“My advice to farmers would be to look at all your options, not just here, but in other countries too. I spoke to companies in Germany when I was considering my AD plant. You can’t get all the information you need by just staying local; you have to really do your research to find the best deals for you and your needs.

“Every farmer will have different needs from an AD plant, every farmer will have different feedstocks in different quantities, which will all require assessment. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, but the benefits are there,” Mr Hart added.


Methane from the digester is used to run a 350-kW generator


June 2012