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Biomass Connect Webinar No. 3
February 23 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Biomass Crops – Some Interesting Alternatives
Some biomass crops are bigger and leave a greater impression than others whilst others might be humbler but still get the job done. Eucalyptus trees can produce exceptional yields of hardwood timber when the right species is planted in the right place. There are plenty of options with numerous species that can thrive with everything the UK climate can throw at them. Reed Canary Grass is at the other end of the spectrum – this is a short term, lower yielding perennial that is cheap to establish and easy to remove making it a perfect energy crop for a tenant farmer. Our panel includes environmental farmer John Hawkins and expert silviculturalist Bryan Elliott.
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John Hawkins – Bagber Farms – Farmer
John is a third generation tenant arable farmer in Mid Dorset. He grew up on the farm but then after a BSc in Maritime Studies was commissioned into the Royal Navy. Later he travelled extensively as a security consultant which gave him an insight into global problems issues and solutions before realising that there is no place like home. In a period of agricultural change his primary initial role on the farm was to look for ways to diversify the business to support the families involved. This led to planting a 5000 tree cherry orchard (agroforestry) and committing 10 years to adding value to his fruit. The organic knowledge and steep learning curve in horticulture then paved the way to take over as Managing Partner of the Business 6 years ago within the background of 10 years min till arable rotation. 4 years ago using support from Mid Tier CS and Wessex Water and other complementary systems he turned his whole farm into a giant experiment (a sort of shot in the dark pre policy pre ELM’s trial) to see if Regenerative Agriculture was a viable alternative to intensive production whilst still seeing if he could grow food and energy crops more sustainably. Reed Canary Grass was a catalyst for this change and initially grown on contract. It has been trialled on farm for 7 years now. Current themes include using Soil Carbon increases to maximise Nitrogen efficiency on farm especially with Perennial Crops with a Biomass.. Everything is driven by a practical observation of Science and tested rigourously to compare it to previous arable rotations within the confines of a rented farm.
Managing Director of Eucalyptus Renewables. Bryan has developed an innovative silviculturally based, UK company, that is focussed on delivering an expertise in developing a UK wood supply chain through growing crops of various targeted Eucalyptus species.
Eucalyptus Renewables are involved with various BEIS projects delivering establishment, and silvicultural protocols with a sole objective of creating a thriving and sustainable timber crop. The existing annual yield of Eucalyptus fibre is currently expanding with around half a million Eucalyptus trees successfully established throughout UK over the last four years. SRF Timber harvesting operations will initiate between 4 and 6 years of age thinnings, with rotation lengths between 8 and 25 years dependent upon timber objective strategy.