Proposed R&D work on digestate as bedding material

As you may know, DairyCo is a levy-funded, not-for-profit organisation working on behalf of Britain's dairy farmers, as part of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Over the last 18 months, DairyCo has been working with the regulators (Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government) and industry stakeholders to help clarify the legal position with regard to the safe use of recycled manure solids (RMS) as bedding.

Latitude to continue to use recycled manure solids as bedding for a further two years has been agreed with the Defra and Scottish Government. This is to allow further data collection under prescribed management conditions, and work on this is now ongoing.

However, use of AD digestate is currently not permitted by Defra/Scottish Government, until further information is available on the relative risks. There are particular concerns in the Netherlands over the use of composted bedding materials,  where it has been demonstrated that thermoduric bacterial spores proliferate in the heat produced during composting. These bacteria spores are very heat resistant (up to 100°C), can survive pasteurisation  and  adversely affect milk quality. From January 2015, Dutch milk processors will no longer accept milk from farms using composted bedding material. To date, there is a large gap in the scientific literature of research conducted on the use of digestate as bedding.  If you know of any on-going  work, please let us know.

Specific research on bacterial loads in digestate will be conducted over the coming year or so. As such, we are looking for members who may be interested in this work to let us know – particularly if you are able to offer samples (particularly of digestates from slurry/farm material) or otherwise support the project. Please contact me via if you would like more information.

DairyCo keep stakeholders and our levy payers updated on the current position and developments on their website here

Posted in: ADBA News, News for Members, Policy updates

Tags: Defra, R&D, digestate, Matt Hindle, dairyco, r&d dissemination