Momentum is building on a project aiming to revolutionise the management of livestock slurry across Wales’ 1609 dairy herds. The project is called Tywi Farm Nutrient Partnership (TFNP) – a first of a kind project for Wales and one that N2 Applied is proud to be a part of.
Recent changes in Welsh agricultural legislation have highlighted a gap in the industry’s knowledge and ability to manage slurry in accordance with increased environmental standards on-farm. With measures of the new legislation phased in over the next three years, this project seeks to provide new options to the industry efficiently. As while it is well known that slurry contains valuable concentrations of nutrients essential to plant growth and soil health, it can also have detrimental consequences to the broader environment when poorly managed.
The Welsh Government supports the project alongside several existing partners and a number of new commercial partners. This extensive partner network with shared goals strongly indicates the project’s success and value to farmers and the wider industry. Partners include the likes of GEA, Netafim, Honesty Foods, Power & Water, Aquatreat, Natural Resource Body of Wales, Welsh Water and N2 Applied, who will all contribute innovation to the project.
The project is taking place at Gelli Aur – a 344-hectare dairy farm run by a leading Welsh agricultural college, Coleg Sir Gâr. A series of work packages have been developed to support the project’s overall aims and help overcome the uncertainty faced by the industry. Learnings from the project aim to provide verified options to alleviate the pressure placed on on-farm slurry storage, support effective nutrient management, and mitigate the environmental impacts associated with traditional storage and spreading.
The project will run alongside day-to-day operations at Gelli Aur, using slurry from the 500- miking cow herd to piece together and identify relevant activities and technology capable of transforming the future of slurry management in Wales. The project is also looking to maximise the efficiency and scope of the modular processes by aligning with TFNP partner processes to offer a complete nutrient management package.
Processes explored within the project include:
- Mechanical (centrifugal) separation (GEA)
- Chemical flocculation/separation of solids (Aquatreat)
- Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) for removing final solids/nutrients (Power and Water)
- Discharge water to reed beds (Welsh Water) for final cleaning of nutrients or irrigation (Netafim)
N2 Applied’s Contribution to the Project
N2 Applied’s main goal throughout the partnership is to explore and demonstrate how our technology can contribute to closing the nitrogen cycle on-farm while aiding farmers’ independence on chemical fertilisers. In addition, N2 Applied is exploring different applications of our technology with project partners, including:
- Treating slurry directly to create Nitrogen Enriched Organic (NEO) fertiliser for application to the farm’s grassland
- Adding high-quality nitrogen as part of the combined treatment process of the project leads to nitrogen-enhanced solid manure
- Treating the wastewater at the end of the treatment process to create a nitrogen-rich irrigation/fertigation water
A series of plot trials have been planned throughout 2022 to assess the viability across the range of application types alongside our well-documented NEO, the complete fertiliser generated when standard livestock slurry is treated with N2’s technology.
N2 Applied’s Chief Agronomist, Nick Humphries, works closely with the researchers employed for the project and partners. He says, “The relationship with the college and partners continues to progress alongside the project’s practical development – we have had several good meetings already, which provided some interesting and productive discussions. We have several plans for implementing the N2 technology as part of this project and some exciting avenues to explore. But also to identify a clear roadmap for Welsh dairy farmers and the wider industry by extension. Having confidence in how the technology and innovation can be integrated with a long-term outlook is essential.”
N2 Applied’s Business Director (UK), Chris Puttick, is also pleased with the progress attained to date – “it is fantastic to be working with a leading project here in the UK seeking to identify tangible solutions for farmers. Given how well connected the project is across the industry, we believe this will also deliver concrete results for the Welsh government actively looking for options to aid the sustainable continuity of dairy farming in Wales”.
Upcoming Opportunities to Learn About the Project
We look forward to sharing more progress on this project shortly, and for those based in the UK, there are several upcoming opportunities to learn more about the project:
- Coleg Sir Gâr will be attending the upcoming Dairy-Tech (April, Site: I16) and the Royal Welsh Show (July). N2 Applied will also be on-site on both days (DairyTech: OD120) to answer any questions
- An on-farm event is being planned for later this year at Coleg Sir Gâr’s, Gelli Aur Farm