South Raynham farm’s chicken manure energy trial given EU approval

Patrick and Nigel Joice show off farm's energy centre

Patrick and Nigel Joice show off farm's energy centre - Credit: Archant

A revolutionary system of turning poultry manure into energy that has been piloted on a Norfolk farm is set to make the whole industry more sustainable, both economically and environmentally.

Father and son Nigel, 67, and Patrick Joice, 41, have been trialling two 500kw biomass burners designed to burn poultry manure on Uphouse Farm, South Raynham, near Fakenham since 2012 - and new EU laws due to come in force on July 15 will approve the system for general use by farmers across Europe.

The farm, which has been the centre of global attention during the trial, burns 2,500 tonnes of manure a year heating all of its 16 poultry sheds.

As well as making a cost saving - "We are not buying LPG gas anymore" - Patrick said there were environmental benefits too.

He said: "We had been looking to do something with poultry manure energy wise for years, but nothing seemed to stack up. "However, four years ago, we came across an Irish company, BHSL, which had developed biomass burners capable of burning poultry manure."

After seeking regulatory approval for the trial, they took the decision to invest £1.8m in a new purpose-built energy centre on their farm, which is one of the region's largest poultry producers with 840,000 birds.

The NFU has long been lobbying for farmers to be able to burn poultry manure for energy and its poultry board chairman Duncan Priestner said: "This represents a massive, positive development for the poultry industry, one which embraces new technology and is keen to make use of on-farm by-products, both to the benefit of business and the environment, by relying less on traditional energy sources.

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"There are also a number of other benefits, including healthier birds, minimised biosecurity risks and opportunities to use nutrient-rich ash on farmland.

"Our poultry farmers will be able to take advantage of these opportunities, and we are working closely with Government to ensure it keeps regulatory burden to a minimum, costs down, reinforces its commitment to supporting renewable energy and sustainable food production and that systems are in place to approve combustion plants as soon as possible."

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