For the second UK winter in a row, BioAg's effluent digester, Digest-it® for Dairies has proved itself in trials run by Kingshay, the UK's leading dairy research organisation.
Situated in Somerset, not far from the site of the famous Glastonbury Festival, and in the centre of the UK dairy bowl, Kingshay was set up in 1991 to provide practical farm based advice to its members. It routinely carries out research on such things as silage additives, pastures species for best return, and milking parlour design and fittings. It also promotes the adoption of its research and provides other dairy consultancy services.
Duncan Forbes, Managing Director of Kingshay wrote in an article for The Royal Agricultural Society of England: "… we are currently running a pilot trial to examine the effectiveness of a range of slurry additives. Many ambitious claims are made for these products from reducing crusting in the slurry store to enhanced nutrient availability.
How does the practical farmer know which of these claims are marketing hype and which to believe? We expect our carefully controlled trials to help find the effective treatments and expose the muck and magic products. In the process we will be helping farmers to reduce their farm's environmental impact while enhancing profitability." The pilot trial was conducted in the winter of 2009/2010 to establish a testing protocol.
Digest-it was one of the products used in the trial, and even though the trial only ran for six weeks, the results showed promise. Following a visit to Kingshay by BioAg's Plant Chemist Peter Stoneman and UK distributor David Atherton (Thompson & Joseph Limited) in September 2010, BioAg agreed to participate in the main trial in the winter of 2010/2011 in which six other slurry additives were also to be tested.
The replicated, controlled environment trial ran for 12 weeks in 60 litre drums simulating dairy ponds, charged with sludge, into which the slurry additives were added at the recommended rates at the start of the trial and at weekly intervals. Testing was undertaken prior to the start of the trial, at the six and eight week marks, and at the end of the trial period.
At the end of the trial, the nitrogen content of the Digest-it treated pond had risen by over 9% against the control, and the crust measurements were from 12% to 14% lower. The total aerobic bacteria count was also much higher in the treated pond. "This is a good result for BioAg. Three months is the longest Kingshay were able to commit resources and staff to the trial. It's close to the minimum time necessary to see results from Digest-it, based on our field trials. We don't know how Digest-it compared to other products as each company receives only its results; still we have encouraging results from an independently conducted, replicated trial and they show positive benefits from Digest-it use," said Peter Stoneman.
Pictured above: Somerset Headquarters of UK dairy research organisation, Kingshay. Parts of the heritage listed building of the working dairy farm are 700 years old.