TMMF Ltd
Farminguk
26 May 2016 | Online since 2003
Less co2 Limited


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


loginuserlogo
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

New Zealand | 26 May 2016
Milk price prediction means prolonged doubt for farmers

Farmers are resigned to another tight season after Fonterra confirmed its milk price at $4.25 for the coming season. Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said: "Many were hopeful of a price in the vicinit...


Canada | 26 May 2016
Alberta's farm safety talks are missing farmers

Alberta's controversial farm safety bill is set to be examined by consultants next month — but only 30 per cent of group are actual farmers. Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier and Labour Minister C...


France | 26 May 2016
French poultry firm LDC sees tougher year ahead

France's largest poultry processor LDC on Wednesday forecast a slight fall in operating profit for its 2016/17 financial year, citing weak demand and the risk of higher grain costs. Poultry demand ...


USA | 26 May 2016
John Deere earnings review: Weakness in agriculture

The continuing downturn in the global agriculture industry along with the weakening of construction equipment market has been impacting the performance of John Deere DE +1.07% for the last few quarter...


Australia | 26 May 2016
Australian dairy farmers rally against low milk prices

Struggling dairy farmers and their families have paraded through the streets of major Australian cities to protest against the low milk prices driving them out of business. Hundreds of angry farmer...



Trending Now

Viewed
Discussed

Farms and Land for sale

PropertyLocation
PropertyAgent
PropertyMinimumPrice
PropertyMaximumPrice
PropertyCategory

Holiday Rentals search

AccommodationKeyword
AccommodationType
AccommodationCounty
AccommodationStarRating


Top stories you may have missed
closeicon
Username
Password