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Farmers' Food for Thought at Energy Event
19/07/07

NFU Scotland’s energy event gave local farmers a good deal to think about as they considered on-farm energy production with experts from the field.

wind turbines

The event was held on Monday 16 July at Carmichael Estate, Biggar, with speakers:

• Neil Phillips, Development Officer for Strathclyde & Central Energy Efficiency Advice Centre on Renewable Energy and Grants;
• Trevor Blackburn, Woodfuel Information Officer for the Forestry Commission; and
• Neil Thompson, Energy Crops Manager, Scotland, Renewable Fuels Ltd.
NFU Scotland Vice President Stewart Wood, who concluded the event, said:

“All those who came to the event heard three very interesting presentations on options for energy production on their farms. Neil Thompson said that Renewable Fuels Ltd. are looking for more people to plant a minimum of six to ten hectares of willow coppice on their land. He spoke about the technical issues involved, including planting, weed control, harvesting, fertiliser, sludge usage, pests and diseases.

“A number of farmers at the event were surprised that potential yields were bigger than expected, although they did ask questions about deep root and drainage issues. Mr Thompson agreed that this is sometimes a problem, although surface-rooting varieties can stop this from happening and also make it easier to reinstate the field.

“Some farmers might think twice about planting willow coppice as cereals prices have improved over the last couple of years, however, the group did think it is better to consider every available option.

“Neil Philips spoke in the main about heat production, although he did touch on electricity. His organisation gives out grant aid for domestic production which, while it would not contribute directly to farm businesses, could help farmers cut costs at home. The Strathclyde & Central Energy Efficiency Advice Centre advise people on all aspects of domestic renewable energy, including hydro, wind, heat pumps, biomass and solar energy. It was most striking that there are many things we could actually do at home and on the farm to save energy, which surely complements farming’s response to the renewable energy revolution.

“Trevor Blackburn from the Forestry Commission drew attention to the fact that some countries, especially Finland and Sweden, are much further on than we are in Scotland, particularly in their use of biomass, which they use in the main to heat their homes.

“I am pleased that so many people came to hear these interesting presentations and we are very grateful to Richard Carmichael for hosting the event, and to Alex Alison for feeding us all a fine barbecue!”

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link Brightly Coloured Birds Most Affected by Chernobyl Radiation

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