2013-06-25   facebook twitter rss

Cumbrian Farmers Invited to SRC Willow Open Day

Farmers interested in energy crops are being invited to an open day in Cumbria next month to see willow from plantation to processing and discover more about the grants available to become a biomass grower.

Jointly hosted by H&H Land and Property and Iggesund Paperboard, the information day will include a trip to see short rotation coppice (SRC) willow growing at Durdar and then onto the Iggesund mill at Workington, where the wood is converted to woodchip for biomass burning. Experts will discuss the practicalities of growing willow, who customers are, and what sort of returns farmers can expect.

Andrew Jamieson

Andrew Jamieson

H&H’s Andrew Jamieson said: “SRC willow grows quickly and Cumbria’s warm and wet climate is ideal for it. It is low maintenance, provides sensible regular returns and it can be managed alongside traditional crops; it does not require good land. Plus, it’s something Natural England is keen to encourage, so there’s an Energy Crops Scheme grant available to cover 50% of the cost of establishing the plantation.

“But the deadline for applying is the end of August, so farmers considering turning over land to SRC willow need to think seriously about it now. We’ll look at whether SRC willow will fit into your current stewardship schemes and farming systems, and the practicalities of growing for the biomass market.”

“Our open day with Iggesund Paperboard will provide you with all the information you need to decide whether SRC willow will work for you.”

Meeting at H&H Borderway Mart in Carlisle for breakfast, delegates will hear an introduction to energy crop growing and the grant scheme from Andrew and also Richard Hunter, H&H’s specialist arboriculturalist.

Delegates will travel by coach to the Wilkinson’s Park Fauld Farm at Durdar, to view SRC willow growing, and then leave for lunch at the Iggesund Paperboard Mill and Biomass plant, followed by a tour of the site. Farmers will be able to see the willow planted this year on the mill’s land, which will be ready for harvesting in two to three years.

Neil Watkins, alternative fuels manager at Iggesund Paperboard, said: “The open day will allow farmers to see SRC willow from plantation to processing and find out about markets and returns, plus its environmental benefits.”

“Many of our growers have reported an upsurge in biodiversity since they planted SRC willow. Twenty-five different species of butterflies have been spotted around plantations, with numbers more than doubling compared to when the land was used for arable crops.”

This is the first time H&H Land and Property has jointly hosted an event of this type and spaces will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

HH Land

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