Artificial lighting technology that fires a bolt of plasma at slurry might reduce drastically methane emissions of British livestock farming.
The novel technology follows a technique called plasma conversion. In a plasma, electrons have been stripped away from their atoms.
The plasma is used to break apart nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the air. The conversion traps ammonia and methane in the slurry, producing a sustainable fertiliser.
The technology has the potential to further decrease the need for chemical fertiliser.
Dr Nick Humphries, Chief Agronomist at N2 Applied, the company which developed the technology, spoke to ELN about the trials they are now running on farms across the UK: “There are three pilot sites in the UK at the moment. We have got one on a dairy farm in Buckinghamshire, one in Scotland, near Glasgow and one in the National Pig Centre at the University of Leeds.
“We are focusing on dairy and pigs really. We wanted to make sure that it practically worked on farm.”
Dr Humphries said the technology is in development for 11 years. Asked about how easy it is for the technology to be deployed on a larger scale he said: “It can be scaled up at the moment. We are all focusing on these units at the moment, which are suited towards farms like 200 cow dairy or 750 pigs.
“And we just see that as the best way to source and decentralise fertiliser production and also to support farmers on a practical scale.”
He explained why this technology is a “big step” towards cutting farm pollution: “Livestock has an initial problem. We know that ammonia is really difficult to reduce. With this technology, we have seen 95% of ammonia emission reduction and 99% of methane reduction.”
Dr Humphries expects commercial units of the technology will be available soon, no later than 2022.