Net-Zero Testing Will Target Sustainable Fertiliser Production and Smell Suppression at Nether Lethame Farm, Which Sells Direct To the Public Via Vending Machines
London, UK: London, UK: N2 Applied, the European agricultural technology business, today announced a new pilot of its breakthrough technology that eliminates harmful emissions and enriches the nutrient content of livestock manure.
Nether Lethame Farm, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, is a pioneering eco-farm that sells dairy products directly to the public in vending machines and from a snack van having developed its business during successive COVID-19 lockdowns. It has begun a two-year European Union-funded pilot that uses N2 Applied’s technology to process all manure from its Jersey cow herd into sustainable fertiliser, and monitor how methane and ammonia emissions are eliminated. The farm even uses a robot to collect excess manure from cow sheds and include it in the conversion process.
Using a scientific technique that applies just air and electricity to slurry, the N2 Unit performs a plasma conversion that ‘locks in’ methane and ammonia to the liquid waste material, producing a sustainable fertiliser. As well as the project’s potential to achieve net-zero emissions from slurry management and improve grassland yields, the farm is a growing business attracting daily customers – so the ability to eliminate slurry odours is seen as an attractive fringe benefit.
The pilot is the latest by N2 Applied into the practicalities of operating this innovative technology within a commercial farm setting. It will generate valuable information on what is needed in order to enable more farmers to implement this technology to support the sustainability of their businesses, against growing pressures on managing agricultural carbon footprints, and in particular suppressing methane emissions.
“We are a highly unusual farm in that we’re a start-up, so have had a clearer path to becoming fully sustainable from the outset. Since we took ownership at the end of 2018, we’ve grown a business that is the master of its own destiny in selling directly to the public via vending machines and a cafe, and we have had to adapt and accelerate our plans due to the impact of lockdowns,” said Alex Fleming, who owns and runs Nether Lethame Farm with his wife MaryAnn.
“The potential to make slurry management, which is such an environmental Achilles’ heel for the dairy sector, net-zero, can be a cornerstone of our sustainable farming business. We want to explore how best to achieve net-zero emissions and make green technology the backbone of our growing business,” he said.
As well as assessing the practicalities, treated slurry from the farm is being used for scientific crop trials that will assess how the treated material can help reduce the need for chemical fertiliser, and therefore further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The farm currently has a small herd of 19 Jersey cows alongside around 300 chickens, producing milk, ice cream, milkshakes and eggs that are sold daily, there are further plans to both expand the herd and introduce new products such as yogurt.
“Technology that can cut methane and ammonia emissions to practically zero has profound implications for the UK’s dairy food sector and farms of many sizes. If N2 Units were adopted across the UK dairy herd today they could deliver 17 to 21 per cent of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reduction target. The Nether Lethame pilot is a shining example of commercial vision and ambition combining with science to pursue net-zero goals and support a whole new consumer delivery model,” said Carl Hansson, CEO, N2 Applied.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101008819.
Hear from Alex Fleming himself on BBC’s Global News, included in a news report after Day 2 of COP26 (Glasgow), where over 100 countries committed to reducing methane levels by 30% by 2030. Alex can be heard in the audio file after 4 minutes, 40 seconds (source BBC).