Integrated systems for farm diversification into energy production by anaerobic digestion: implications for rural development, land use & environment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment


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Title Energy production on firms through anaerobic digestion, 2007-2010 
Description This is a quantitative data collection. The study is part of the Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme. This project, carried out jointly by the University of Reading and Southampton, successfully combined agricultural economics, rural sociology, civil engineering, energy accounting and environmental biology to critically evaluate issues associated with the adoption of anaerobic digestion (AD) on farms in the UK. Policy issues were addressed through analysis of regulatory measures within the EU and those specific to the UK. Models were developed to analyse the economics, energetics and land use implications of diversification into on-farm energy production. An assessment was made of the benefits and potential drawbacks regarding environmental protection and sustainable agricultural practice, through environmental risk-based analysis methodologies. Farmer opinions were sought on diversification and renewable energy production, and the potential benefits to the rural community from uptake of anaerobic digestion in integrated farming systems were explored. A random sample of 2,000 farmers in England was surveyed by means of a postal questionnaire, resulting in 382 usable responses. The purpose of the survey was to determine farmer attitudes to AD, level of interest in uptake of AD, barriers to uptake and types of AD operation and feedstock that might be used. A stratified (by rural/urban residence and household income) random sample of 1,500 consumers was surveyed (212 responses). The purpose of the survey was to examine the views of consumers, in rural and urban locations, to a range of issues associated with use of AD on farms, such as odours, visual intrusion, traffic effects, use of digestate (especially on food crops) and their willingness to pay higher taxes to provide subsidy to encourage farmers to take up the technology. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? Yes