As the Government promotes the potential of on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD), one industry spokesman has questioned the technology and called for more support for on-farm composting.
Environment Minister Phil Woolas said that AD could play an important part in helping farmers meet strict environmental rules to reduce fertiliser nitrate getting into rivers. He said: AD is an exciting and innovative technology and it is clear we are not making full use of its potential. I know from talking to the farming industry that there are barriers to enabling its wider take up and thats something Ive promised to have a look at.
But on-farm composting is not being afforded the same support, according to Land Network Farmers Consortium general secretary Bill Butterworth.
He said that recent changes to the permitting system will mean tonnages of on-farm composting have to be reduced (MRW 22 August).
When asked about AD as an alternative Butterworth said: AD is an alternative to on-farm composting but is it a good one? Its great for liquid waste but the process is more difficult for dry waste as it needs to be ground down. Such plants can be very expensive.
But we have got farms where they are seriously looking at this. My mind is not closed to the possibility, but the manufacturers have some way to go. Defra is pushing AD hard and its not very well informed.
Id ask manufacturers: Will you guarantee performance, material throughput, gas output and the odour control?.
Defra disputed that it was not well enough informed on AD and said its studies had so far been well received.
Butterworth added: We dont want the permitting exemptions to change, we want to continue on-farm composting.