Supermarket chain Waitrose is now using cow manure to power tractors at one of its farms in a bid to reach net zero.

The cow manure is produced by the 500 cattle kept at a Waitrose farm at the Leckford Estate in Hampshire and is harvested and upgraded, producing fugitive biomethane.

Executive director of Waitrose, James Bailey, said: “Two years ago we challenged ourselves to use Leckford as an experiment in farming best practices, to pave the way for genuine solutions to help conserve our soil, air and water for the future generations, and our biomethane lagoon does just that.

“An innovative example to help our farm and hopefully other farms, reach net zero.”

The cow manure not only fuels machinery, but significantly reduces the carbon footprint, the retailer said.

A facility has been built by Waitrose to provide sustainable fuel aimed to help cut down up to 1,300t of carbon per year.

The covered lagoon – which is the size of two and a half Olympic swimming pools – holds the energy rich fluid separated from farmyard manure.

The solid material is extracted as a digestate which is rich in nutrients and can be used as fertiliser for crops.

The process is circular, from grazing cows in the field to producing manure, which then captures the methane gas and refines it, Waitrose said.

This process leaves behind a natural fertiliser, which will be pumped directly back onto the fields. The monitoring system for the facility is also powered by solar panels on farm buildings.

Head of Leckford Estate, Andrew Hoad, said: “This is a new era for Leckford Estate farm. 

“We understand the positive impact farming can have on addressing the effects of climate change and nature loss. 

“Reduction in use of fossil fuels and capturing fugitive methane are an important part of us becoming carbon net zero as a farm, ahead of our 2035 partnership goal.”