Biomass Connect staff coordinated the harvest of 3-year-old above ground biomass at a SRC willow yield trial in early February 2023.
The experiment was planted on a sandy loam soil and contained 33 elite SRC willow varieties in three replicates (40 plants / plot with a 12 plant yield area) using a randomised block design (99 plots in total). There is representation of breeding outputs from Rothamsted, EWBP, EWP and SW breeding programmes. The trial was planted in spring 2016 and received a first year cut back inFebruary 2017. The first three-year old stems were harvested in Feb 2020 with the second rotation being harvested in February 2023.
This was a great practical opportunity for the attendees including a number of the students from the colleges Arboriculture course who cut some discard rows ahead of the yield harvest as a coppicing practical.
It was also a data collection exercise; the harvest was carefully documented and handled and measurements recorded. The yield and other data collected will be assessed, analysed and written up as a joint output between Biomass Connect and Easton College. The results will also be shared with relevant Biomass Connect Innovation Projects. Following this collaboration, the college has indicated an interest in becoming a Biomass Connect Spoke Site.
The college has a biomass boiler and the Snetterton CHP plant is nearby. There are also commercial fields of miscanthus in the vicinity.