Cowadunga! Manure could be diary farmer's fuel of the future

·3 mins read
Manure from 500 cows – that’s around 190 tonnes of slurry each week – to create a staggering 27,000 litres of biofuel to power the milk delivery trucks in a groundbreaking new trial.
Manure from 500 cows – that’s around 190 tonnes of slurry each week – to create a staggering 27,000 litres of biofuel to power the milk delivery trucks in a groundbreaking new trial.

Forget horsepower it's cow power that could soon be delivering a pint for your morning cuppa.

Trials are under way to turn poo from 500 cows into 27,000 kgs of biofuel to power dairy delivery trucks, reducing the carbon impact by 80 tonnes - the equivalent of 23 car journeys around the world.

Where there's muck there's brass, goes the saying, and farmers from Arla, the UK's leading dairy cooperative, are leading a three-month trial to improve their sustainability.

In addition to turning poo into fuel, the process will also create nutrient rich neutral fertiliser they can use on their farms and they've even launched the UK's first cow powered fuel station in Buckinghamshire.

And cow poo could be a renewable fuel of the future - which really isn't to be sniffed it. Just one bucket of plop has the power to boil around 758 kettles and make 4,548 cups of tea.

The three-month test will involve two special Arla tankers that have been adapted to run on biofuel transporting milk between dairy processing sites.

Proving that muck is just as important as milk, Arla will use manure from 500 cows – that’s around 190 tonnes of slurry each week – to create a staggering 27,000 kg of biofuel to power the trial vehicles.

“Many of us recognise how valuable a cow’s milk is, but many aren’t aware that manure is just as important," said Arla farmer Ian Barker.

"Processing cow manure in this manner provides us with a limitless source of energy, plus the digestate, or solid matter, left over after the process makes an even richer fertiliser for my fields, so it’s a win-win.”

Cow poo could soon power the trucks that deliver pints for your morning cuppa, as a new trial starts in the UK
Cow poo could soon power the trucks that deliver pints for your morning cuppa, as a new trial starts in the UK

Arla is using the trial to assess opportunities for scaling poo-powered transport opportunities across its value chain.

And if it proves a success, it will lay clear foundations for how the dairy industry can join forces with Government and other partners to enable new fuel solutions that reduce environmental impact.

“Using manure from our farms is helping us reduce our waste and rely less on air-polluting fossil fuels so it’s a no brainer for us," said Arla's agriculture director Graham Wilkinson.

"With the help of our farmers and partners, we have a fully closed loop which at scale, could be revolutionary in helping fuel a greener future.”

Fact box

• Each week six tanker loads of slurry will be turned into into 27,000 kg of biofuel – that’s the equivalent of 500 cows’ poo turned to power

• Each litre of cow poo biofuel used (versus diesel) will reduce CO2 emissions by 2kg

• The trial will help reduce carbon impact by 80 tonnes – that’s the equivalent to 23 car journeys around the world or providing energy to power 9 family homes for a whole year

• Just one bucket of cow poo has the potential to power a family home for over a week and with the average dairy cow producing 18 tonnes of manure each year – the equivalent to 1800 buckets of poo - it really isn’t to be sniffed at.

• One bucket of cow poo has the power to boil around 758 kettles and make 4,548 cups of tea