Deventer site gets biogas delivered by customers

On 16 December, we were proud to be present at the moment that the first shovel went into the ground at the farm of one of our customers. The occasion is a great example of partnership and circular agriculture: five dairy farmers from the Oxe hamlet near Deventer will supply our factory in Deventer with biogas generated on their own farms. We will use this biogas in the factory to heat the steam boiler. The steam thus produced is needed to press the feed pellets. At present, we still use natural gas for this purpose. Biogas is a good and sustainable - even circular - alternative. In this way, it contributes very concretely to our goals of making our production more sustainable and using renewable energy to do so.

Afbeelding: Farm with biogas plant in landscape_inline

Alderman rolls up his sleeves for biogas initiative

Alderman Grijsen of the municipality of Deventer rolled up her sleeves for the latest biogas initiative. She symbolically laid the first section of the new biogas pipeline that will run from the farms of five ForFarmers customers to our own 'Deventer 10' and to the Animal Health Service (Royal GD), also based in Deventer. Although one of the five dairy farmers already has a biogas installation, the other participants will have to build their installation in the coming months. The stables also need to be adapted. While this is being done on the farm, the biogas pipeline is being laid and ForFarmers is also modifying its own steam boiler installation to make it suitable for biogas. We expect to be able to start using the first biogas in mid-2022.

Working together on biogas production

Five dairy farmers and three local suppliers work together in ‘Oxe Geeft Gas’ on the production of biogas on the farm. The dairy farmers ferment cattle manure from their own farms. This fermentation produces biogas, a sustainable alternative to natural gas. The produced biogas is transported from the farms via a biogas pipeline to our factory.

That sounds easier than it is, because the pipeline has to pass under the A1 motorway. Fortunately, the municipality of Deventer also supports the innovative initiative and was able to provide concrete assistance in overcoming that last hurdle. Alderman Grijsen is enthusiastic: “This is a unique first pilot project in which we are working both on a vital countryside and future-proof farmers as well as on energy transition.”

Closing cycles with biogas

The ForFarmers site in Deventer
The ForFarmers site in Deventer

Via our colleagues at FarmConsult, we heard about the preparations of the five dairy farmers. Because the initiative fits in very well with the sustainability objectives of our Going Circular strategy, the decision was taken to become a partner in the project.

Pieter Wolleswinkel, Director of ForFarmers Netherlands: “We have strong ambitions to make our own production and logistics more sustainable. Certain steps in the production process of our animal feed require steam. To heat the steam boiler, we can now use locally generated biogas, a sustainable - even circular - alternative to natural gas. We are proud that we can work together within the sector, and even with our customers, to use this alternative in our factory in Deventer. This fits well with our sustainability strategy 'Going Circular', in which we want to close cycles. With this project, manure will be upgraded to energy that we use within the sector and in this way we can close this cycle.”

The factory in Deventer is not the first location to use renewable energy. The Lochem plant also already uses renewable energy for steam production. For this purpose, a biomass plant fired with local waste wood was put into operation in 2019. There are also solar panels on the roof.

Room for scaling up

The participating dairy farmers are happy with the official kick-off: “It is great that we can start now. The first two customers have been found, but there is certainly room for upscaling, so we hope that more companies will show an interest. Biogas is a beautiful and sustainable alternative”, says one of the dairy farmers.

In addition to the municipality of Deventer, the Province of Overijssel and the Overijssel Energy Fund (EFO) are also subsidising and financing this initiative. Thanks in part to this support, the project can be realised.

‘Together we are really contributing to circular agriculture’

Niels ten Voorde
Niels ten Voorde

Niels ten Voorde of FarmConsult about this initiative: “When I gave a presentation to these dairy farmers about barn modifications to enable biogas initiatives from the farm, I soon realised how serious and concrete the plans were. But at that time, there were not enough buyers. The Oxe hamlet is not far from the ForFarmers factory in Deventer, so it was worth suggesting ForFarmers as a purchaser. The fact that it finally works out and we can start using our own customers’ gas to produce their feed is fantastic.”

“We at FarmConsult have noticed that many farmers are looking into the possibility of supplying biogas or of feeding generated energy into the energy network. If we can help our customers with our advice and ultimately bring this offer even closer to ForFarmers' sustainability targets in the future, together we will make a real contribution to circular agriculture.”