Agri-Shop Ltd
Farminguk
04 May 2016 | Online since 2003
Briefing Media - FG Classified


Marginal Areas can Drive Farm Profitability


The Government and farmers must do more to unlock the potential of marginal areas in the UK, it has been claimed.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) specialist EnviTec Biogas UK believes marginal grassland represents an opportunity for farmers to increase revenues significantly.
But the “pointless” food versus energy debate and unambitious biogas targets are hampering farmers’ ability to tap into income from AD plants or the production of AD plant feedstocks.
And EnviTec managing director Mike McLaughlin is urging politicians and farming leaders to look at the bigger picture to make the most of marginal areas.
Mr McLaughlin said: “If you do the maths, you realise we’re in danger of missing a trick.
“A significant area of land in the UK – especially in Scotland, the North of England and Wales – is only suitable for grass, so it seems crazy not to explore that crop’s huge potential.
“Growing grass to feed AD plants is a real opportunity for some farmers to increase revenues and for the politicians to introduce more stretching biogas targets. It also addresses some of the environmental impacts of current farming practice.
“The crop is already there and the machinery to deal with the crop is already there. In the right circumstances we can make better use of marginal land, add a new revenue stream to the farm, control energy prices, comply with NVZ legislation and improve land quality – all at the same time.”
A tonne of grass contains around 1,100kWHr of primary energy, which means about 4,800tonnes a year would be enough to feed a biogas plant producing 250kW of electrical energy.
That electricity can be used on the farm or exported to the grid. If the existing farm enterprise also uses heat, then up to 100kW of hot water can also be supplied from the cooling system on the biogas plant CHP.
The digestate produced by the AD plant, which is almost odourless slurry, is returned to the land as a fertiliser and soil conditioner. The avoided cost of fertiliser and the improved soil condition dramatically reduces the cost of production.
Mr McLaughlin said: “Recycling the N, P and K and remaining dry matter back onto the land improves productivity, land quality and land values. This process is already used for land reclamation.
“But to unlock this value we need to take a step back so we see the wood, not the trees.”
Current Government agricultural policy aims to deliver ‘sustainable intensification’, but land use intensity has decreased over the last 20 years because of a lack of profitability in farming.
Mr McLaughlin added: “On-farm biogas production helps deal with the profitability issue and it helps the Government meet its renewable and environmental obligations.

“The Government should be looking at the costs, efficiencies and potential revenue streams in the whole energy production cycle and using that to inform much more challenging biogas targets.
“It seems to me the whole food versus energy debate is pointless. Food is just another form of energy, and the area given over to energy crops will never be massive – after 10 years of subsidies in Germany, it’s still only 3 per cent.
“And do we really want to have land being underused? I don’t think so.”
DEFRA strategy for AD aims to produce between 3 and 5TWhrs a year from biogas in the UK.

Download





0 Comment


Name

Please enter your name


Email

Comment

Please enter your comment


Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.


Comments

No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

World News

Argentina | 4 May 2016
Food traders stuck in the hard times

A recent bout of poor weather has damaged South America’s corn and soyabean crops, and this has provided a rare reason for optimism at some of the world’s largest traders of food. These companies o...


New Zealand | 4 May 2016
Imported feed blamed for velvetleaf outbreak in maize crops

Imported maize used as chicken feed is being blamed as the likely cause of velvetleaf being found in Waikato maize crops. The feed is thought to have entered New Zealand contaminated with velvetlea...


India | 4 May 2016
Drought sparks distress sale of cattle

Acute shortage of fodder triggered by prolonged heat wave across Telangana is driving thousands of farmers to sell off their cattle. The Telangana Goshala Federation, which works for the rescue and...


USA | 4 May 2016
Aging agriculturalists: Study raises concern over farmland future

LaSalle Florists has been growing for 82 years, but current owner John LaSalle, who says he started at age 3 in the business his grandfather launched in 1934, is in his 60s, and looking ahead to the d...


Ireland | 4 May 2016
Dairy farmers push for suspension of superlevy

The Cork-based dairy farmer wants the new minister to prioritise the full use of the EU Commission’s temporary State Aid allowance to support farmers. “2016 superlevy repayments will begin to be de...



Trending Now

Viewed
Discussed

Farms and Land for sale


Holiday Rentals search



Top stories you may have missed
Username
Password