Project background

Many farmers in the UK want to develop sustainable and resilient systems. Supply chains are increasingly asking farmers to demonstrate energy efficiency.

Iwan and Fion Williams had support from their local authority to install an on-farm Anaerobic Digester (AD) a few years ago. To fuel the plant, they were buying in poultry manure to mix alongside the cattle manure from their herd of suckler cows in North Wales.

The family were the fifth generation on the farm and could not see a viable future from just producing beef and sheep if their young family were to enter the business in the future. Even with 500 acres, 1,000 sheep and 100 suckler cows, they saw the need to invest and diversify. Therefore, they decided to make a major investment around the AD plant and apply for a Welsh Government grant to install a broiler unit for 40,000 birds. Their location made them ideal to sell into the local supply chain.

This was a completely new enterprise for the couple and they have needed their best stockmanship skills to make the unit perform to its maximum potential. They also invested significantly in other items such as renewable energy, purchasing solar panels and other energy saving equipment within the broiler shed.

The ability to recycle all the nutrients from the beef and sheep unit via the AD plant is one of the first systems in the area to demonstrate the technique. Gas and therefore heat from the AD plant is being used to heat several houses as well as the broiler unit.

Actions taken

They asked our consultants to help them with the business aspects of their grant application and advice was given on the following:

  • If the major investment provided a good return investment
  • What effect the decline in the Basic Payment Scheme would have on their business
  • If there were significant cost savings to be made from the changes in the current system such as savings in straw bedding, recycling of rainwater, reduction in organic fertiliser use etc.
  • If a sustainable self-contained business could be developed from their investment and that funding could be repaid at an acceptable rate
  • If a low carbon farm could be developed which is as energy efficient as possible

Results

“The application for grant support was very complicated and it was great to have someone who could talk us through it all and help complete an application” Iwan, North Wales

Contact for more information

To learn more, contact Cate Barrow, or visit our Farm Business Consultancy webpage. 

Iwan and Fion Williams case study anaerobic digestion