April 4 2010: With the growing level of proficiency at Richmark poultry farm, there also seems to have grown a heart for the environment, to the extent that management and employees have incorporated in their work ethic, consideration that in whatever they do it should matter how much impact that will bear on the surrounding.
The construction of a bio-gas plant alongside an incinerator, within the farm premises, where all the condemned carcasses and unwanted chicken by-products are destroyed, was described by Kim Van der Merwe, Chief Operations Manager, as an indicator of the company’s commitment to preserving the environment.
“We at Richmark value the environment and have accordingly found it fit to erect a recycling system which comprises a number of dams designed in a manner that the fats are trapped before the used water is passed to the purification dams, each arranged on the basis of the level of cleanliness achieved,” said Van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe exclaimed that t it was inconceivable to imagine how, without a biogas plant it would have been possible to dispose the bad or rejected portions, blood and water used for cleansing of the carcasses of about 50 000 chickens a day, and still maintain a desirable appearance to the surrounding environment.
Adam Mpala, Production Manager, at the farm, who was also responsible for overseeing the operation of both the bio-gas plant and the recycling dams, pointed out that everything that is taken from the abattoir ranging from, the cleansing water, trapped fats from the dams as well as any such carcasses as may have gone bad or rejected for health considerations is thrown into the incinerator.
“In fact, these two tanks as you can see them are each 6m deep and the height is also 6m, but there have been times when they just didn’t seem to be adequate for the gas we produce,” posited Mpala.
He added that, although the plant was not on its own meant for commercial purposes, for consideration of the environment, Richmark found it worth investing well over a million to construct both the recycling dams and bio-gas plant in order ensure a cleaner means of disposing of the unwanted stuff, and to avoid polluting the atmosphere.
Thuso Mogaetsho, Acting Chief Engineer, Energy, at Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) commended Richmark’s idea, saying if all the farmers regardless of the product they were specializing on were to consider having a bio-gas plant as part of their bigger project they would in fact save a lot.
“Such an initiative would be particularly helpful for small farmers who have challenges meeting their energy needs,” said Mogaetsho.
“However, for a farmer who to start a bio-gas plant they must have the appropriate number of animals to sustain the operation of the plant, but in the final analysis is passion, interest and basic capital costs,” stated RIIC official.
To show how energy efficient biogas is, Mogaetsho told the Telegraph that research carried out by his organization has led to compilation of a comprehensive documentation of sufficient information and data for biogas production, which includes even the costs.
Minimal number of animals recommended is 3 for cows, 10 breeding pigs, and the animals should be living in a stationery enclosure within twenty meters from the biogas plant where they would be expected to normally remain a minimum of 12 hours for optimum fresh excreta.
According to Mogaetsho, the desirable starting quantity is 60kg in the case of cow dung, while in terms of carcasses anything that makes up for that will be OK. Thus for chickens, it would be ideal to start with 200 chickens for sustainability.
The gas generated from the biogas plant at Richmark is used to heat water in the abattoir, provide warmth for the chicks as well as for heating burning the rubbish in the incinerator.
Van der Merwe mentioned that her farm has offered to the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) that it will provide internship or attachment for aspiring young farmers to learn the basics they need before they could stand on their own.
Kenneth Makubate, CEDA-Agri-Business Division, confirmed that CEDA has in the recent past facilitated attachment of youthful aspiring farmers to Richmark, “and it proved a very resourceful opportunity to utilize as long as it’s still available.”