The Vuorenmaa dairy farm has provided the first manure-powered milk truck in the country. With 180 cows, Vuorenmaa dairy farm in Haapavesi produces Valio Oltermanni® cheese.
For years, the farm has used the manure its cows produce to generate electricity and heat for the farm at its biogas plant, manufactured by Demeca Oy, a local firm, along with the biomethane refining and refuelling station. Now, Valio is using biogas as a vehicle fuel as part of its programme that aims to reset milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035.
Janne Vuorenmaa, who runs the farm with his brother and family, said: “The Vuorenmaa farm’s biogas plant currently produces roughly 1,900 MWh of biogas every year. We were overhauling the plant’s equipment and decided to expand its functions to produce biogas fuel.
“The milk truck from our local dairy at Haapavesi can fill up at our farm at the same time as the milk is collected. In future, the fuelling station near the farm will also provide biogas for passenger cars.”
Initially, half of the gas produced at the dairy will be refined into biomethane, which is suited for use as a vehicle fuel. If all that gas was to be used in milk trucks, it would cover more than 350,000 kilometres per year.
Currently, around 15 million tonnes of manure is generated every year in Finland; however, using agricultural by-products is still in its early stages, and using biogas derived from cow manure is a relatively new development.
“The biogas plant is part of our farm’s regular nutrient cycle,” said Vuorenmaa. “Its process transforms the nutrients in the manure into a form that is more useful in the fields.
“When we need to buy less fertiliser, it benefits both the environment and our accounts. It also improves the farm’s self-sufficiency when it comes to energy. Selling farm-produced fuel is another business opportunity.”
Petteri Tahvanainen, who is responsible for Valio’s vehicle fleet, commented: “Using biogas can reduce fuel’s lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 85% compared to diesel, which is what our milk collection and distribution trucks run on.
“At the same time, the dairy farm’s own carbon footprint goes down significantly, by one fourth or fifth, depending on the method of calculation.
“The Vuorenmaa dairy farm is a fantastic example of the ways Finnish farmers can solve environmental and climate challenges together with local businesses. At the same time, the farms can create new business, that is, new cash flow into the countryside while improving our fuel-related self-sufficiency.”