Global innovation award for farm that harnesses energy from cow muck
- Credit: Frances Crickmore
An East Anglian dairy farm which saves energy by harnessing waste heat from cow manure has won a global innovation award.
Fen Farm Dairy, near Bungay, is the winner of the #WeAreDairy Award, which celebrates positive innovations and improvements on the world's dairy farms.
The judging panel was impressed with the farm’s "ingenuity and thorough research into each of their sustainability projects".
In summer 2019, it laid 1,500m of water pipes beneath the floor of a new shed to absorb heat from the cattle bedding and muck from the Montbéliarde dairy cows.
The system heats water for use in the farm's cheese and butter production buildings, as well as the milking parlour, office and other buildings.
January 2020 saw the installation of heat exchanges on compressors throughout the farm, harnessing heat and using it to cool milk and heat the preheat tank.
The farm has installed a straw burner and solar panels, and recently added battery power storage, so no green energy is wasted.
Farm owner Jonny Crickmore said: “We are absolutely honoured to have won, even more so with it being a global award.
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"We really didn’t expect our idea of taking heat from cow muck would result in an award, but we’re delighted to be able to share our story with others, which will hopefully inspire others to be more sustainable.
“Over the last ten years, our business has grown considerably, and it felt right to consider more closely how much energy we are using, both from a business and efficiency point of view, and also for my conscience - so to be recognised for that is a great feeling."
The award includes a $10,000 prize which will be spent on more sustainability improvements.
“We’re going to put the prize money back into the business, on a sustainable improvement that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford, likely an electric vehicle for use on the farm to replace the current older diesel vehicle," said Mr Crickmore.
The global award was launched in February 2021 by hygiene firm Diversey’s agriculture brand Deosan, together with industry consultants Promar International.
Other highly commended entries included Copy's Green Farm in Wighton, near Wells, which makes Mrs Temple's Cheese.