Turn dairy manure into biogas + liquid fertilizer! Recirculating energy at Mount Rokko / Yuge farm

A second generation dairy farmer

The farm area is 9 hectares and about 45 dairy cows spend 24 hours leisurely.

I was born in 1945, the year the war ended. Before World War II, my father abandoned sala and started dairy farming, and set up a farm somewhere else in Kobe city. After graduating from high school and studying abroad in California for a year, the surrounding area became home, and scent complaints forced me to relocate the farm to my current location. There was no electricity, and I lived on a generator for five years after moving.

My father died in 1983 and I took over the farm. Milk consumption was slow and management was difficult, so I started trying to make cheese to keep the farm alive. I want to get rid of the excess raw milk, and I think cheese will suit Japanese people who have been accustomed to fermented foods for a long time.

Processed cheeses (heated cheese) are available, but natural cheeses with live lactic acid bacteria are rare. At that time, there were few places where natural cheese was produced in Japan, so I ordered documents from the French Consulate and translated books specialized in the US to study how to make Camambale cheese.

“Fromage Fre (right)” is currently a signature product of Yuge Farm. It is a type of fresh cheese that can be made 2 days after milking fresh.

The commercialization of Camambale cheeses and “Fromage Fre” cheeses gradually gained support from local consumers, but let them know more about how to eat natural cheese, a restaurant on the farm. I opened “Cheese House Yargoi”. Vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant are also made in the fields inside the site.

The menu for “Cheese House Yargoi” was devised by his wife, Kazuko (right).

The “biogas unit” supplies the energy for manure

The gas accumulates in something like a large ball

Farm Yuge is about a 20-minute drive from central Kobe. I moved to my current location in 1970, but after opening the farm, the surrounding mountains were cut off and now I’m surrounded by new residential areas. The farm and residential area are only about 500 meters apart.

Livestock manure is usually dried and fermented outdoors to make compost. However, since there are homes near the farm, you must consider smells. Manure treatment is always a problem. With my son and daughter in charge of the dairy and the restaurant, I got to work solving the problem.

About 10 years ago, we visited foreign livestock farmers such as Hokkaido, France and Austria. I have met Professor Kazutaka Umezu of Obihiro Livestock University and Associate Professor Kazutaka Ihara of Kobe University, who have been studying biogas for a long time, and have collaborated together to conduct the investigation. . I have come.

Meanwhile, I learned that small biogas devices are gaining popularity in Thailand. Biogas is a gas created by the fermentation of manure and is an alternative energy for electricity. So, together with Professor Umezu and Associate Professor Ihara, we decided to introduce this biogas device to Yuge Farm. That was three years ago.

Two biogas devices were buried in a vinyl biogas house on the farm

Large-scale biogas plants have been put into use in some parts of Hokkaido, but it costs nearly 200 million yen. Small breeders like us don’t need such a big thing. We are introducing this small biogas device so we can control it on our own at no cost to not leave negative sequelae for the next generation.

Control screens are installed in vinyl house

The biogas unit is a fecal fermentation device in a closed fermentation device to produce methane and extract “biogas” and “digestive water”. From the manure of a cow for a day, you can get the biogas for 5 to 6 clay bombs.

The fermentation machine has a diameter of 2.5 m, with a spherical shape to pour the liquid content of the stool. To keep the internal temperature around 38 degrees, a hot water pipe and a stirring device were installed inside. The hot water provided by a wood-burning boiler burns the branches of the surrounding forest.

Since it has excellent air tightness, it leads to a reduction in “odors”. As I mentioned earlier, I think it is suitable for small scale producers in terms of cost.

It is used to heat vinyl homes, where vegetables are grown, and farm gas lights. Digestive fluid generated when gas will become fertilizer for the field.

“Biogas radish project” in liquid fertilizer made from manure

We create on-farm fields and grow vegetables and wheat for use in our restaurants. Digestive juice is sown in the field as liquid fertilizer. Not only do plants grow better, but also mysteriously reduce pests and diseases.

From this year, we also started an activity called “Project Biogas Daikon”. It was an attempt to grow radish using liquid fertilizer with the local people, and end up eating it with lots of energy. I’m not familiar with farming, so I’m working with my old friend Shigeki Nakanishi, a farmer.

Radish seeds are sown into ditches and fertilized with liquid fertilizers from above. I was surprised there was no smell!

Currently, there are two active biogas plants, but it is hypothesized that three will be sufficient to power the farm. We plan to add another unit for the purpose of being completely self-sufficient in energy.

I was thinking about the implications of running a dairy farm in the city. I think the end point of dairy farming is the existence of an “independent nation” that is self-sufficient in food and energy from the rotation of resources.

Problems of manure handling and odor are a major obstacle to scaling up farmers and starting new farms. Lead to a solution to this problem with a biogas unit will open up. If you do not extend the exit, you cannot extend the exit. I hope that this initiative will be able to throw stones at those who want to become a livestock farmer and those who have never been interested in breeding.

A gas lamp illuminates with the energy of biogas. A gentle light will heal your heart

Photo provided by Yuge Farm