If you happen to find yourself walking through a field of cows, the future of energy might be just under your feet (if you’re unlucky). Here at Arla we’re turning cow pats into power with the first trials of our dairy farm fuel stations where natural waste will be converted into biofuel. The cows participating in the trials will not only be providing delicious milk –they’ll also be helping to fuel the trucks that deliver it to the processing dairy! It’s all about investigating the possibility of making use of a waste product to make our dairy farms more sustainable for the future, an exciting part of our overall mission to create the future of sustainable dairy.
Turning poo into power
The process starts with the farmer sending their herd’s cow manure off to a nearby anaerobic digestion plant where it’s broken down into various components. One of these components is bio-methane, which can then be used to create a usable fuel. Not only does this process produce biofuel, as a by-product it also creates a rich, natural fertiliser that farmers can use on their fields, so nothing is wasted. It will take a herd of around 500 cows to produce 190 tonnes of manure a week, which will create an incredible 27,000kg of biofuel.
Poo power can be used to create energy in many other ways, too. Converting cow pats into methane can go towards producing electricity to power almost anything. A year’s worth of cow poo could potentially power 507 fridge freezers. That means just one bucket of cow pats could boil a kettle enough times to make over four and a half thousand cups of tea. That’s power not to be sniffed at!
Biofuel has a big potential to help reduce carbon emissions across many industries and domestic uses beyond farming, and can be produced using all sorts of waste products from animals and plants. The fuel is cleaner than regular petrol and diesel and so it can also help to reduce the amount of C02 in vehicle emissions either on its own or by being blended with traditional fuels.
Sustainability and poo power
With more innovations in biofuel production and uses in the future, we can potentially help make the dairy industry even more sustainable, as well contributing to reductions in emissions on Britain’s roads. It starts with this exciting new trial on 2 Arla dairy farms, where with the help of our farmers, we can set up closed loops where the natural waste from cows is used to transport their milk and fertilise the fields for crops and grass for food, helping to reduce wasted energy. After the trials we will evaluate if this is scalable or if we should explore other biofuel solutions or other alternative renewable energy sources to power our trucks.