8th July 2024

Turning red meat green: a new scheme to reduce beef emissions

Although the UK has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 54% since 1990, we are still the 21st most polluting country in the world[1], with 10% of these emissions coming from agriculture.[2] As the Net Zero deadline of 2050 draws closer, it’s essential that we all play our part to reduce carbon emissions.

A new project headed up by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), aims to find out how to reduce emissions from beef cattle.

Commercial partners, like Galebreaker, joined the project to each bring their specialised knowledge and expertise to enable the project to have a viable business aspect.

Using a circular system to reduce emissions from beef

The Greenshed project aims to develop a sustainable and low-carbon beef production system through carbon capture.

As part of the pilot, 40 cattle have been housed inside a sealed shed with special screens to make it airtight. The screens on the side of the building are a modified version of Galebreaker’s VVS Drop Curtains while a modified Light Ridge seals the top of the building.

The methane that the cows produce is extracted from the air in the shed through an air handling unit.

This methane is then combined with biogas produced by processing the manure from the cows in an on-farm anaerobic digester.

The biogas is used to fuel a combined heat and power engine to generate electricity and heat. The electricity powers the air handling unit and a dehumidifier which removes moisture from the air before returning clean air to the shed.

Excess heat from the engine could also potentially be used in an on-site vertical farm growing a salad crop, although this hasn’t been implemented yet. The vertical farm would also use digestate nutrients and water from the anaerobic digestion process.

Sensors in the shed and air handling unit monitor air quality and humidity to ensure animal welfare. An emergency system has also been developed to automatically open the  Light Ridges in the event of a power outage, to ventilate it naturally.

Will this reduce greenhouse gas emissions in beef production?

Although the trial is still ongoing, the team are hopeful that the project will show the technical feasibility and effectiveness of the system at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from beef production on a commercial scale.

Gathering economic data on the costs and potential revenue streams will also help the team to evaluate the commercial viability of the technology while a market demonstration day in July will showcase feasibility to industry. As more people become aware of the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment, there is also the possibility to create a brand of ‘lower carbon’ beef.

VentTube for Beef Unit Agridoors at GreenShed Closed Agridoor at Greenshed VVS Drop at Greenshed

 

[1] List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions – Wikipedia

[2] Greenhouse gas emissions: agriculture | AHDB