Cementing a positive future

Welsh farmer Richard Anthony is capitalising on the location of his farm to start a new venture that will help reduce the effects of climate change in the building trade.

The 870ha (2150-acre) farm near Bridgend, Wales, is next to the newly built Cenin cement works. Cenin uses recycled industrial material to create environmentally-friendly, low-carbon cement. To keep carbon emissions down the plant wants to generate its own electricity and heat so it is teaming up with Mr Anthony to build an anaerobic digester and generating station.

Mr Anthony will provide maize and grass to feed the digester, which will also take food waste and poultry manure. Half the farm currently grows combinable crops with the remainder growing maize for local dairy farmers as well as haylage for horse owners.

“The first cut of grass is usually too heavy to dry for haylage, so we plan to take an early cut in April to ensile for the digester,” he says.

The proximity of the farm to the plant keeps transport of material for the digester to a minimum, reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

As well as providing the raw material for the digester, Mr Anthony will benefit from the digestate – the nutrient-rich compost by-product from the process.

“As well as improving the soil, the digestate will provide us with P and K, nitrogen and sulphur.”

Ross Leadbeater of GrowHow, who advises Mr Anthony, says that the digestate will certainly add to the fertility of the farm.

“By analysing the soil and using sewage sludge and poultry manure alongside artificial fertilisers we have been able to increase the farm’s wheat yield from 6.1t/ha (2.5t/acre) to about 9t/ha (3.6t/acre),” says Mr Leadbeater. “The digestate will just add to that process.”

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