Methane harvest may power region's future

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2014

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Harvesting methane from effluent ponds could be the way to power Southland in the future.

Yesterday, Venture Southland group manager enterprise and strategic projects Steve Canny guided Green Party co-leader Russel Norman on a tour of a dairy farm near Dacre that monitored methane levels from its effluent ponds.

While there were other projects also investigating methane recovery in New Zealand, the ambient air temperature affected the levels of methane being produced.

"If you can do it in Southland, you can do it just about anywhere," Canny said.

Dairy Green Ltd agricultural consultant Quinton Scandrett said the results from 18 months of monitoring at the Dacre farm showed up to 70 per cent of the farm's annual energy needs could be met from harvested methane.

Dairy Green had plans to build covered effluent ponds for methane recovery near Isla Bank by the end of the year, complete with a generator to power the farm.

The farm owner at Dacre was also keen to build a second, covered effluent pond following the success of the monitoring pond, Scandrett said.

The Green Party announced its economic policy on Wednesday - $1 billion of government funding for research and development over three years.

Norman said the methane recovery project was exactly the type of project that funding would be aimed toward. "We can't simply keep expanding dairy," he said.

New technology in farming, like methane recovery, was needed to protect the environment as well as the economy, he said.

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