Arla’s initiative will mean, for the first time, farmers will send their cows’ waste to a nearby anaerobic digestion plant, where it will be broken down into different components, including clean bio-methane, and converted into usable fuel.
Arla said the trial makes it the first UK business to use waste from its own farms to generate power for its fleet. The process will also create fertilizer Arla farmers can put back on to farms, making what the cooperative said is an entirely closed loop.
The three-month test will involve two special Arla tankers adapted to run on biofuel transporting milk between dairy processing sites. Together they are expected to cover around 90,000km and help reduce Arla’s carbon impact by 80 tonnes. Arla will use manure from 500 cows – around 190 tonnes of slurry each week – to create 27,000kg of biofuel to power the trial vehicles.
To mark the launch of the initiative, the farmer-owned cooperative has launched the UK’s first cow-powered fuel station on one of the farms taking part in Winslow, Bucks.
Ian Barker, an Arla farmer involved in the trial said, “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 fertilizer for my fields, so it’s a win-win.”
Graham Wilkinson, agriculture director at Arla, said, “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. 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.”
Arla is using the trial to assess opportunities for scaling up the opportunities across its value chain. If it proves a success, it will lay foundations for how the dairy industry can join forces with government and other partners to enable new fuel solutions that reduce environmental impact.