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The Power Of Change Ayrshire Dairy Farmers Approach To Helping The Plant.


An Ayrshire farmers innovative approach to treating the slurry from his dairy cows has saved him thousands on his fertiliser bills, supplied heat and power to the farm and lowered greenhouse gas emissions. Alan Hogarth of Sorbie Farm, Saltcoats is hosting an SAC Open Day on Thursday 26th November when he will explain how his eco friendly bio digester makes him money from farm waste.

Alan Hogarth is one of the first in Scotland making use of a technology that is commonplace in mainland Europe and is now receiving more attention in Britain. Sorbie Farm has an airtight bio-digester which converts the slurry from 250 dairy cows into biogas used to generate electricity and heat. The hot water and steam clean the dairy and wash the traditional glass bottles used by the milk delivery business Alan and wife Lorraine run in the area. They plan to use renewable energy to power the milk floats delivering to homes, restaurants and businesses around Saltcoats.

Alan has also cut his fertiliser bills by up to 10,000 through using the liquid produced in the bio- digestion process. This digestate, which has been sterilised in the plant, contains no harmful bacteria and is much less smelly than raw slurry.

It all makes great sense, says Alan Hogarth, “I can make really good use of the liquid fertiliser for grass and crops. It saves me buying in as much fertiliser and helps reduce my farm’s Carbon Footprint too. Our customers like the fact that their milk hasn’t travelled far before it reaches their doorstep.”

Scotland’s dairy farmers can make a big contribution to meeting the Scottish Government’s ambitious targets to cutting Greenhouse Gas emissions. BY 2050 Scotland must reduce 1990 emission levels by 80%. Additional, interim targets, will be agreed after the Copenhagen Climate Change summit on 7th December. The Government’s Climate Change Delivery Plan details how all sectors, including farming can achieve those targets.

The SAC meeting planned for Sorbie Farm is one of a series organised under the Scottish Government’s Farming for a Better Climate initiative. It is aimed at helping farmers farm in a more climate-friendly way. By managing soils, carbon, waste and fertilisers better they can be more efficient and reduce GHG emissions. A win win for everybody.

Until now the incentives for generating electricity from renewable sources like biogas have not been enough to interest farmers. However a new Feed-in Tarriff scheme will pay renewable energy producers a FIT rate for each unit of electricity generated with more for each unit sold to the National Grid. It comes into force in April next year and Alan and Lorriane plan to  use the new FITs for electricity they will not use themselves.

According to SAC’s Climate Change Specialist Elaine Booth, “In making their farm available to farmers the Hogarths are giving them the chance to see how his Anaerobic Digester fits into his system.   In addition they can hear about diets and rations that give better feed to milk conversion efficiencies and to get hands-on with some soil issues including compaction and fertiliser application. There will be other speakers and specialists on-hand with useful advice on making the Farming for a Better Climate initiative work on farm.

To find out more about the Farming for a Better Climate initiative, see

To book a place at the Sorbie Farm Anaerobic Digestion Open Day, please contact Elaine Booth at or on 01224  711079 or 07715 366 352, or Carole Christian at or on 0131 535 3033 or 07826 513333.

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