Farmers in the North West of England will soon have the opportunity to learn more about the potential for growing energy and non-food crops in the region.
The Rural Development Service (RDS) have appointed Cheshire based firm CMS UK to arrange meetings and events in Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire.
The planned meetings and events will promote a better understanding of growing crops such as miscanthus grass or willow as short rotation coppice, and using these crops for rural energy creation.
There will also be information available on other Non-Food crops, as well as the potential Non-Food uses for conventional arable crops.
The Rural Energy Creation & Non-Food Crops events are part of the North West Regional Farm Demonstration Programme, which is sponsored by the Rural Development Service (RDS).
Initial meetings throughout the North West region will be held on the following dates: * Cheshire and Greater Manchester: 18th October Reaseheath College, Nantwich * Lancashire and Merseyside: 20th October 2005 Myerscough College Preston * Cumbria: 25th October 2005 Newton Rigg College Penrith
There is no charge for farmers wishing to attend these meetings and a free lunch will be provided. Each meeting will run from 10am to 3.30pm, and will include presentations and advice from national experts.
As a follow up to the meetings, CMS UK are also arranging site visits so that farmers from the North West region can have an opportunity to see completed Energy Creation projects both inside and outside the region.
For example farmers interested in growing Short Rotation Coppice Willow will have the opportunity to attend a harvesting demonstration in Cumbria in November, organised by Renewable Fuels Ltd and UCLan School of Natural Resources.
There will also be the opportunity to visit farms from outside the region including the Eccleshall Biomass project in Staffordshire, a boiler system in Shropshire which burns biomass for energy production and a trip to Renewable Energy Growers Ltd in Yorkshire to inspect locally grown SRC crops.
Alex Lowe, Regional Farm Advice Co-ordinator for the Rural Development Service says:
"The Rural Development Service is pleased to support this series of events, which will enable farmers to explore the new business opportunities these crops can offer and learn more about the practicalities of growing and selling them. With the increasing costs of oil based fuels, this is a good time for farmers to consider diversifying into alternative farming practices such as producing energy from Biomass."
Places at these events are limited, so anyone wishing to attend must book for one of these meetings beforehand, and should contact Linda Bebbington or Keith Roberts at CMS UK on telephone 01270 522645, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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