Last year, I wrote a blog about guinea pig poop powering a science lab in a Peruvian village. Now UK farmers have come up with a similar plan using pig poo.

According to news reports, farmers James Hart and Jeremy Iles have devised a way of profiting from 12,000 tonnes of pig poo, in order to supplement their income. They have on their farm – Glebe Farm, in Hatherop, Gloucestershire – a biogas station.

A cylindrical tower houses the biogas plant. In this, animal waste is mixed with grass. Bacteria then break this down, producing methane, which is siphoned off, cleaned and filtered.

The biogas is used to power a generator that produces electricity that is then fed into the National Grid. The farmers are also left with a valuable by-product – large quantities of fertiliser that they can then spread on their land. The heat produced from the system can also be used to heat the farmhouse.

Whole new meaning to the term piggy bank

News reports suggest that the farmers can sell 2.2 million kilowatts of electricity a year allowing them to rake in £300,000 – two thirds of which come from a green energy generation subsidy from the government. They also save £30,000 a year in fuel bills and £60,000 on fertiliser.

So the figures speak for themselves, poo pays. But it seems that these farmers are also doing their bit for the environment too. Methane is 20 times worse than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere and is widely recognised as a greenhouse gas. By capturing and using the methane produced from animal waste, the famers are reducing their carbon footprint.

So this seems to be a win-win situation. Will this be the start of a poo power revolution in the farming community? It must surely be a viable option for all those cash-strapped farms struggling to make ends meet out there….

Mike Brown

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