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Did you know that Dorchester Mill is the only mill in the country to be powered by anaerobic digestion

Mole Valley Farmers have the only feed mill in the country which is powered by anaerobic digestion?

The Livestock Feed Forum is an open day at Dorchester Mill, on Thursday 11th July where a panel of specialists from Mole Valley Farmers and along with guest speakers will cover everything from training the future dairy farmer to managing volatility in the raw materials market.

There is also a tour of the mill which covers its history, how it fits within the current Mole Valley Farmers business; and the progress and future development of running the mill in conjunction with the renewable energy sources on the site.


Livestock Feed Forum

Dorchester Mill, the early days

The mill was originally built by Hanford PLC as a grass drying plant in the late 1960’s.  With a key raw material for feeding farm livestock already being manufactured, the decision was taken to extend the factory and manufacture commercial ruminant diets, concentrating on larger dairy units and promoting their products as green feed with grass being one of the key raw materials. 

Pye Bibby

Several years later Hanford’s decided to focus on other areas of the business and sell the mill. The feed mill was subsequently sold to J Bibby and Sons, in the late 1990’s and has over a period of 14 years had a succession of owners including ABF and WJ Pye.  

Mole Valley Farmers

For the last 8 years the mill has been operated and owned by Mole Valley Farmers trading as Mole Valley Feed Solutions. The mill produces about 80,000 tonnes of livestock feeds each year servicing the South and South East of England.

The Piddlehinton Feed Mill is one of four within the Mole Valley Farmers feeds operation which in total has a combined output of over 350,000 tonnes each year. The feed mills complement the overall business of Mole Valley Farmers which includes 50 retail outlets across the UK with SCATS in Dorchester and Mole Valley Farmers in Yeovil local to the mill.

The Mole Valley Farmers business is always looking at ways to reduce the mill costs of production, which in turn helps to make us competitive in the marketplace. This keeps the price of feed affordable to our members and farmer customers.

One of the options for reducing costs was to produce renewable energy on the Piddlehinton site. In 2010 Mole Valley Farmers and Hanford’s, in partnership with ECO Sustainables, decided to build an “anaerobic digester”. This was to supply the mill with both gas and electricity; with the additional output supplying the main grid. The digester came on stream in September 2012. 

Renewable Energy

Neither party wanted a digester that needed to use crops specifically grown to fuel the digester and the decision was made to use domestic and catering food waste, which in the main would come from doorstep waste food collections. The food waste is liquefied by using either pig slurry from adjoining pig units or water drawn from a bore hole, it is then pumped to the digester.

Methane gas is produced to run the engine that produces the electricity, with an additional pipe line installed to the mill where the gas is used to run a boiler. This in turn produces the steam for use in the production process.

The waste product from the digester is then pumped through a pasteurizing unit into a holding tank where farmers will collect the product with tractors and tankers to spray back onto the fields as fertilizer. 

In addition to the digester the feed mill is also drawing electricity from the new Photovoltaic site (solar power) in the adjoining fields. This is another joint venture managed by Hanford and as with the digester this source of power generation is in the process of being expanded. 

The Future

With the combined power from the renewable energy resources on the site i.e. electricity from the digester and the photovoltaic plants, gas generated from the digester and water for the plant all sourced from local bore holes, Mole Valley Feed Mill at Piddlehinton will become the only feed mill in the country to be run entirely on green energy. We anticipate that the total energy generation from the site will be in access of 10 Megawatts by the year 2016.

Source Details

Mole Valley Farmers


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