Net Zero Willow – Building innovation robotic planting and harvesting machinery to enable the rapid expansion of the SRC biomass feedstock industry

Led by Willow Energy

Based on ten years’ experience of working in the SRC willow biomass industry, the project team has been able to identify the shortcomings of the mechanical equipment currently used. These limitations are reducing efficiencies, increasing cost and stifling the scaling up of UK biomass production.

Rather than looking at just one part of the SRC willow production chain, the team has analysed and developed innovations that are aimed at revolutionising the industry and maximising marginal gains. The machinery will have the following benefits:

  • light weight with lower footprint
  • increased automation helping to address labour storages
  • increased efficiency and longer working windows
  • produce increased quality products
  • have lower costs at every stage
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions at every stage.

This will result in a significant dual benefit for farmers based on lower costs and greater income potential. This together with the availability of reliable machinery will encourage more farmers to plant SRC willow creating a snowball effect.

Conceptual design of the Willow Bot and Rod Harvesting Attachment devised by Willow Energy

Conceptual design of the Willow Bot and Rod Harvesting Attachment devised by Willow Energy

The innovations have been developed from the ground up to travel and operate on UK marginal land in the harshest of conditions. They are not conceptual designs but have been designed to work and with mass production in mind. The innovations use components that have been tried and tested in other applications and are readily available. The specialist parts have been designed to be tough but also cheap and easy to replace when requested.

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