Biogas plant cuts energy costs and boosts yields
Posted Monday, May 28 2012 at 18:57
In her kitchen, charcoal stoves and an LPG cooking stove lie idle. They are of little use to the Teresia Wanja Murimi, who has been a dairy farmer for over 30 years.
Besides providing her with milk, her three-acre farm is now her source of energy through her biogas plant.
Wanja lives at Engashura Farm, some 10 kilometres from Nakuru town. Before the biogas revolution, her dairy farming ventures only used to produce the milk that she supplied to local shopkeepers.
Now, she can use the cow dung to make cooking gas and organic manure for use in the farm.
She has used biogas for two years and this has not only reduced her energy costs it has also provided her with an environmentally friendly way of preparing her meals.
Wanja keeps 12 cows which produce 50 litres of milk on average every day besides producing the dung used in her plant.
The biogas produced from the plant on her farm can handle large scale cooking, such as those of small institutions.
For her, the major cost is keeping her cows healthy and well fed. For that, she has some 10 acres of land in the Ngata area where she grows fodder.
“I have planted enough grass on one of my farms, and also supplements it with commercial feeds. This has given me a regular supply of milk and enough manure for use in the farm,” she says.
Last year alone, the farm gave her 22 bags of maize, and that is after applying the organic manure only.
Wanja is one of the beneficiaries of a programme through which the Dutch government helps farmers to build biogas plants in their homes.
“We assist them with just the technical aspects and chip in some financial support for their projects,” says technical support staff Laban Mwaniki.
The farmers receive constant training on how to use and maintain the plants.
Mwaniki says many biogas projects fail because farmers are hardly taught how to care for them, leading to poor maintenance of digesters and gas-holders that are prone to the vagaries of weather.
“The farmer needs to have a proper plan on what to do with the by-products of biogas such as the fertiliser, otherwise they may not achieve maximum output out of the project.”