A small scale anaerobic digester has proved to be an excellent investment at Wharton Hall farm, near Kirkby Stephen. Mark Chippendale and his son Adam found the system by chance on the internet when they were researching the market for digesters.
The family has farmed at Wharton Hall for over 50 years and have built up to 500 head of cattle including 190 dairy cows, followers and home-reared Angus and Holstein store bullocks. The cows are milked by four Lely robots. There are also 1100 breeding ewes on farm.
Talking of their research Adam said: “We were under the impression that all AD plants had to be of a certain size which would have required us to swap grass production for maize in order to keep a digester fed. We were surprised to find an affordable, small-scale system designed by Biolectric and installed by Solcap Energy, that perfectly suited our farm and our business. We feel it has been a good investment so far.”
Talking of the benefits of the system Adam is enthusiastic about its ease of use, being almost entirely automatic. “We are creating our own green energy, exporting any excess electricity to the national grid under a Feed In Tarriff agreement and also heating our family homes. We can even dry wood. The alternative new income stream means we are more resilient as a business to fluctuations in milk and beef prices.”
Added to that the system is proven to improve the quality of digestate (slurry) with methane and odours almost eliminated.
The Chippendale family in tandem with The Farmer Network are hosting an on-farm open day on Thursday 23rd November from 10am to 2pm where all farmers are invited to visit and look at the new digester and how it fits the farm business. Solcap Energy will be demonstrating the system and a number of other suppliers will also be show casing equipment on the day.
Adam Day. Managing Director of the Farmer Network said: “We are grateful to our members Mark and Adam for allowing farmers the opportunity to come and have a look at the technology used at Wharton Hall. The Network tries to be alert to new practices, technology and equipment. We are always looking to support farm businesses at grassroots level, which means getting out on to farms and seeing kit working in practice, rather than theory”. Booking is essential as farmers need to be informed of the arrangements for the event. Parking for the event will be at Kirkby Stephen Auction Mart, CA17 4QL and minibuses will transport people to and from the farm throughout the day. To book places contact The Farmer Network tel: 01768 868615, text: 07714 187034 or email: [email protected].