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Pig slurry and poultry manure could be used to generate clean energy while providing commercial opportunities for farmers, say university researchers. Pig and poultry waste to generate clean energy

• Scientists investigate renewable potential

• Energy reduction and storage opportunities

• Huge potential for farmers, say researchers

Pig slurry and poultry manure could be used to generate clean energy while providing commercial opportunities for farmers, say university researchers.

Funding to explore energy generation from on-farm waste has been secured by BACB Renewables in partnership with Leeds University. The study will analyse energy reduction and storage opportunities, as well as identifying the most viable waste for biogas production..

Huge potential

Researchers behind the £212,000 project believe there is huge potential for farmers to tackle climate change through on-farm renewable energy generation and waste management. As a feedstock, they are focusing on livestock waste and insect farming.

Agriculture is responsible for 11% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, said Lloyd Glanville, managing director of BACB Renewables. “We have high hopes this study will bring us one step closer to meeting net zero in farming.”

“Integrated farming technology provides huge potential for farmers to tackle these climate challenges, as well as boosting economic productivity and resilience, particularly in the context of increasing inflation and rising energy costs.

Energy demands

The first part of the study will involve baselining energy demands and fuel sources.

Different waste samples such as pig slurry, poultry manure and insect larvae castings and excrement will be analysed to identify the most viable waste feedstock for biogas and insect production using a 40ft walk-in insect bioreactor provided by insect technology company Entocycle.

The study is one of 50 projects to secure funding from Defra and UK Research and Innovation.

Findings will help support farmers raise animals and crops at reduced carbon and energy costs while boosting as well as boosting their economic sustainability, productivity, and resilience, say the researchers.

Trials will take place at the National Pig Centre, the UK’s largest and most advanced facility for research into pig nutrition, behaviour, welfare and health, and production systems, and a testbed for the integration of technologies that support sustainable approaches to net zero.

The study will not only explore how farm waste can be transformed into renewable energy but also how circular SMART systems may be used to diversify income streams and protect the local environment.

This includes reducing the impact of livestock farming on the environment, such as lowering river pollution, which the Environment Agency says is often caused by high phosphate and nitrate levels from animal waste ending up in local waterways.

Driving innovation

Gesa Reiss, senior innovation fellow in smart agri-systems at Leeds University, said: “To meet the challenges of sustainable food production and environmental sustainability, we must continue to work with partners to drive innovation and discovery in research.

“This is an excellent example of where academics, businesses and partners are coming together to tackle challenges in the UK farming industry. We’re excited to see the outputs of this study and growing our collaborative partnerships in the future.”

Innovate UK agriculture director Katrina Hayter said competition for funding demonstrated the sheer breadth and quality of innovation within the UK agri-food sector.

“We’re proud to be able to help deliver these funding and partnership opportunities to the sector, bringing together farmers, growers, technologists and researchers in a common aim of making the UK food system more sustainable and resilient.

“Whether improving existing production or introducing novel foods and techniques, the winners have all risen to the innovation challenge and we look forward to supporting their development further.”