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Bioenergy crops in the UK: Case studies of successful whole farm integration

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In a recently completed project for Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), three case studies were conducted by an ADAS-led team on farm businesses producing bioenergy crops. The case studies have now been published and show how farmers can diversify their income and increase the productivity of their land by planting energy crops.

Bioenergy crops in the UK: Case studies of successful whole farm integration

The case studies examine the financial impact of planting second generation energy crops such as Miscanthus and Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) Willow and also provide an insight into how farmers can optimise the way they use their land to minimise any impact on food production.

Approach

Three farms took part in the study, two from Norfolk (both of which had planted Miscanthus) and one based in Cumbria, which had planted SRC Willow. Each farm planted between 18-30 hectares of energy crop on land that had previously been used for a variety of purposes, including arable, sheep and dairy farming. 

Outcome

All three farms have secured long term contracts for their energy crops. The Miscanthus is bought by Terravesta, which pellets and sells it on for use in the heat and power sector, while Iggesund, part of the Holmen Group and leading manufacturers of paperboard, buys the SRC Willow for use in a combined heat and power plant at their factory in Workington in Cumbria.

The energy crops have an expected lifetime of 23 years and each farm expects to see an increase in the profitability of the land, and for the crop to payback its establishment costs within six to seven years. This calculation takes into account the fact that the two Norfolk farms obtained a grant for 50% of their establishment costs from the (now closed) Energy Crops Scheme.

All three farms sited their energy crops to minimise the impact on food production. In Norfolk, one farm planted Miscanthus on their lowest yielding arable land, whilst the other farm intensified their sheep production to free up land for the energy crops whilst minimising the reduction in flock size. In Cumbria, the land had previously been used for milk production but was surplus to requirements at the time of planting, due to a change in the dairy system.

ETI perspective:
http://www.eti.co.uk/library/an-eti-perspective-bioenergy-crops-in-the-uk-case-studies-of-successful-whole-farm-integration

Full case studies:
http://www.eti.co.uk/library/bioenergy-crops-in-the-uk-case-studies-on-successful-whole-farm-integration-evidence-pack

Project Team

For more information, please contact Carla Turner

Economic Analysis And Policy Evaluation ​

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