The Power of Renewables
Today, more than a third of British farmers and growers have diversified and are using wind, the sun, farm by-products or energy crops to produce low-carbon renewable energy. All have a role in Britain’s energy security, but also offer more predictable returns alongside food production, making agricultural businesses more resilient. Our visits on June 9th will focus on a variety of innovative renewable energy schemes.
With a change in EU environmental legislation for the disposal of farm plastic waste, the Moore family identified an opening for an innovative recycling enterprise. Using a processing plant designed and built by Robert Moore NSch, the first intake of plastic waste was in 2006. They have never looked back. Today, Agri-cycle collects and recycles a vast range of plastics, including spray cans, tree guards, string and crop cover. In 2015, it also processed over 16 million spent shotgun cartridges. (www.agri-cycle.uk.com)
A M Borrill & Son is a diverse, family farming business managed by Scholar, Robert Borrill. Farm enterprises include contract duck rearing, refrigerated potato storage, turf lets, a limestone quarry, caravan storage and mixed arable cropping of combinable crops and vining peas, with maize and hybrid rye also grown for a farm-based AD plant. Always on the look out for new business opportunities, in 2014 the family leased farmland to Future Biogas to build a gas-to-grid 3.5MW AD plant. Managed today by Merlin Renewables, the plant is supplied by feedstock from 2,270 acres, located within 10 miles of the site, growing feedstock of mainly maize and rye. (www.futurebiogas.com)
Drax Power Station
Labelled as the largest, cleanest and most efficient coal-fired power station in the UK, the 4,000MW Drax Power Station supplies around 7% of the UK's electricity needs and has been the lynchpin in the UK’s energy portfolio for decades. This vast station was also the UK's biggest single source of carbon emissions which has driven its gradual switch from coal-fired generation to biomass generation (providing an over 80% reduction in carbon emissions). Work began in 2012, when the company announced a £700m project to upgrade three of its six generating units to biomass. Drax converted its third unit to biomass in December 2016 and is now running predominantly on biomass for sustainable energy. (www.drax.com)
Severn Trent Water
As one of the largest of the ten regulated water and sewerage companies in England and Wales, Severn Trent Water collect and treat sewage from 8.5 million customers, whilst also producing and supplying over 2 billion litres of drinking water each day. In addition, they also generate their own green energy, for their own use and for the national grid, through a variety of renewable technologies, including hydro and sewage AD, and most recently crop AD, food waste AD, solar and wind. Severn Trent has invested heavily in crop AD and has been pioneering a number of efficiency improvements - through trialling maize varieties and investing in new plant able to digest energy beet (a specially-bred beet variety) and increase the available nutrients for fermentation. (www.stwater.co.uk)
Meryl and Steve Ward farm 2,200 acres in North Lincolnshire. The farm is split into three enterprises. The arable farm has mixed cropping of barley, wheat, oilseed rape, sugar beet, potatoes and maize. The pig farm is home to over 700 breeding sows and finishes 50,000 pigs per annum for major retailers. Fully integrated muck, slurry and straw systems are in operation and the family has recently invested in two 125KW AD plants, which use a feedstock of maize silage, pig manure and sugar beet, and two 100KW wind turbines. Opened in 2006, the third farm enterprise is the award-winning Uncle Henry’s, incorporating a farm shop, a cafe and conference facility. (www.unclehenrys.co.uk)
Scholar, David Rose, who runs 642 acres at Home Farm in East Nottinghamshire, welcomes hundreds of visitors to his farm every year using farming as a therapeutic tool, providing health, social and educational care services. His aim is to reach vulnerable groups, including young and old people suffering with mental health problems, physical and learning disabilities, as well as teenagers on probation. Farmeco Community Carefarm was established in 2011 and is run alongside the main farm as a social enterprise supported through Higher Level Stewardship and a local holistic health trust. The project also supports work experience and apprenticeships in livestock farming and arboriculture. (www.eco-centre.org.uk)
Home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House is set in the heart of the Derbyshire’s Peak District. The house has over 30 rooms to explore, from the magnificent Painted Hall, to the family-used chapel, regal State Rooms and beautiful Sculpture Gallery.
It is also home to the Devonshire Collection encompassing artefacts from Ancient Egypt to cutting edge modern sculpture. Each year Chatsworth hosts a number of special events and in June 2017 hosts a new Flower Show with the Royal Horticultural Society. (www.chatsworth.org)