In Northern Ireland, on the outskirts of the Greater Belfast area lies the road Seven Mile Straight. Follow it for two and you see there upon a hill the Bingham farm, with its characteristic double barn, housing 650 dairy cows and a milking machine.
But it hasn’t always been this way, says Robin Bingham, who 40 years ago built the farmhouse and the barn, and bought the cows and the grassland to feed them. We started off with 25 cows, my wife and I. Since then it has only grown.
Today, Robin Bingham is joined by his son George and together they run the farm operations, with no intention of slowing down the development. In 2017 they installed a biogas reactor to improve the farm’s environmental footprint, providing their excess energy to the power grid. The logical continuation of this sustainable path did not elude the Binghams, and when it arose they immediately seized the opportunity to turn electricity to fertilizer. And so – on the courtyard behind the cow barn which houses the 650 dairy cows, stands the plasma unit, dwarfed by the enormous biogas reactor, all in perfect technological symbiosis. That way, the process from manure to milk can be witnessed in its entirety.
Although the proof of the pudding is in the eating, it is hard to derive much knowledge from a cow’s one-word vocabulary. Instead, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute of Northern Ireland has been contracted to assists the final stage of the process: the fertilisation and analysis of the grass – N2 Applied’s second field trial of the year, now well underway.
The trial will demonstrate the quality of the grass fertilised with our enriched slurry at this stage of development and compare it to grass that is fertilised with untreated slurry and mineral fertiliser. The yield, fibre and protein content will all be determined to properly assess the quality of the grass.
The field trial will undoubtedly provide valuable agronomic insights, but most importantly it will answer one key question: can N2 Applied’s plasma unit aid the continuation of a 40-year success story?