Sustainable farming feels right for couple from Denekamp

In short

  • Mono-manure digester in Denekamp produces gas and reduces emissions. “This innovation works, and it is sustainable.”

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“This is our idea, and we show that it is sustainable too"

Sustainable farming. Erik and Hermien Kuiper from Denekamp have a lot of experience with it. They show that it goes well together. They have a dairy farm with 100 jersey cows and 45 young cows. They extract gas from manure, recover heat from the milk and use solar panels and boilers. They also run an ice cream parlour, selling ice cream made from their own milk. Both the farm and the ice cream parlour are ready for the future. “Even though times are uncertain and adjustments are bound to be needed from time to time.”

“There are many ways to become more sustainable”, knows Erik. “Windmills, solar panels or biological farming. It is important to investigate which ways suit you and your company if you want to become more sustainable. If you don’t do this, the government will come up with ideas that do not fit you and your company. We have been working with a mono-manure digester since 2016. Becoming more sustainable was not a necessity yet then. However, I heard that one cubic metre contains 30 cubic metres of gas and thought: ‘can’t we do something with that?’ We already felt that sustainability would be necessary in the (distant) future, so we decided to take the first step now. That is how we started making our company future-proof.”

Mono-manure fermentation

Fortunately, it was not necessary to make changes to the barn. The barn was newly built in 2015, with a closed floor for daily fresh manure. “Everything else was the same as at other farms. We have been fermenting manure since 2016. We use a process that could be compared to a cow’s fifth stomach. We heat the fresh manure to 38 degrees. This releases the gas, which is then collected, dried and desulphurised. It is then transported to two customers: one uses it for a steam boiler and another for an ‘ordinary’ boiler, which heats the water that keeps their greenhouses warm. Both boilers have been adapted to burn our own gas”, he explains. Erik and his wife are part of Coöperatie IJskoud (Cooperation Ice Cold). This is a cooperation of six farms that all have mono-manure digesters on their farms. These farms are linked together by their own 10-kilometres-long gas pipeline that leads to the two customers. The mono-manure digester does not only produce gas; it also benefits the environment since methane is extracted from the manure. This greenhouse gas no longer enters the atmosphere. Ammonia emissions are also reduced because of this method.

Ice cream

Their ice cream parlour is well-known in Denekamp and far beyond. But it was born out of necessity at the time, says Erik. “Farmers can hardly make a living from just 'farming', nowadays." So they decided to produce ice cream made from their own milk. Their ice cream has since become a staple, and Erik has become an expert. And it is going very well! People from far and wide come to Denekamp for their ice cream. Years ago, they narrowly missed out on winning the World Ice Cream Championships in Rimini, Italy. They did, however, go home with an honourable mention for their World Cup ice cream of yoghurt with honey, walnuts and raspberries from Twente. They sold plenty of ice cream last summer, too


Even though his business is prepared for the future with all the adaptations they have done, Erik and his wife have not stopped moving. “We are fortunate to be future-proof; we can show that our ideas are sustainable and that these innovations work. We like doing things this way, but we have to keep moving. For instance, we want even more solar panels to be completely self-sufficient and possibly even feed power back into the grid. We have already made preparations for this, but the future remains uncertain with the current government and regulations”, he concludes.

Date: 30 September 2022 |

Source of tekst: Erik Kuiper |

Author: Marloes Neeskens

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