A SOMERSET-BASED company led by youth called BioFactory is developing an asset from farm waste.

The company has develped a modular anaerobic digester which can be scaled to any size of dairy farm. The company is also working on a new way for farmers to make money from farm waste.

They have been working with precision engineering and innovation experts, Agri-EPI Centre, to develop and refine their system with a view to bringing it to the market.

Their product will give competition to products such as anaerobic digesters – which ferment organic matter as well as are often priced high for most family farms.

Agri-EPI Centre have helped BioFactory access funding, provided technical assistance, and introduced them to potential funders and advice to help them scale their product and sell it to dairy producers.

Bio Factory has won funding from Innovate UK and Defra for a 12-month feasibility study via the Farming Innovation Programme, and are now raising working capital to commercialise the company fully.

Charlie Bowyer, business development manager for livestock and aquaculture at Agri-EPI Centre, said: “Slurry is nutrient-rich, and returning it to the soil is a vital part of circular agriculture."

Anaerobic digestion is a great way to add value to it whilst retaining nutrients, reducing GHG emissions and becoming more energy-independent. “Digestate has long been recognised as a high-quality fertiliser, and the heat and power created from biogas can create a meaningful income for farmers or reduce their energy bills."

Jon Blake, chief commercial officer at BioFactory, said: “If you’re a dairy farmer, you will always have slurry, but we can help turn it into an asset rather than a by-product."

There is nothing to say that we can’t resolve farming’s impact on the environment as well. Our ethos is to build something simple and reliable for the dairy farmer. Our units are 40’-long shipping containers and easily scaled; if you want to increase your herd, you can simply add another reactor. “We were so lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

"Our young company had been waylaid by Covid-19 when we came across a pot of funding for developing technology to help with net zero targets."

Agri EPI-Centre helped us get hold of our grant and develop our product in real-life farming conditions. “Even though the initial 12-month project has concluded, we are so pleased to continue our relationship with Charlie and his colleagues on laboratory analysis of the biodigestate, and with others at Agri-EPI Centre who are helping us with leveraging further funding and sales contracts.”

BioFactory was founded by mechanical engineer, Eoin Sharkey as a spin-out from his Masters’ project, which designed waste-to-energy systems.