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Renewable energy production can help cereal farms in drought-hit areas

Renewable energy production can help cereal farms in drought-hit areas improve moisture retention at the same time as increasing revenues, according to EnviTec Biogas UK.

Earlier this year, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman hosted a drought summit with water companies, farmers and wildlife groups and warned of potential supply disruptions.

In spite of increased rainfall in April, large swathes of England are still officially in drought. In addition, several water stress studies predict that the South East will show ‘extreme stress’ by 2020 – the same classification as parts of the Middle East.

EnviTec is urging cereal farmers to boost income and hedge against drought and price fluctuations by investing in green energy production.

Using break crops to feed on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) plants not only produces electricity, it also helps remove long-term risk and improve soil moisture retention, said EnviTec.

John Day, UK Sales Manager at EnviTec, said: “A tonne of maize used in an efficient AD plant can produce approximately the same amount of organic material – or digestate – at the end of the process.

“The digestate can be used as fertiliser and it conditions soil, adding nutrients and improving moisture retention.

“That is going to be critical in the coming years for arable operations, especially in the South and South East.

“Using AD digestate can help mitigate drought conditions, reduce the demand for bought in phosphates and cut fertilizer bills.

“Rather than worrying about the price of corn, cereal growers could be using maize or silage crops to increase revenues and allow long-term business planning.”

This year EnviTec Biogas UK has at least five AD plants on arable or mixed farms coming on line. Some will use a proportion of the electricity they produce, while others will export it all.

Mr Day added: “Turning break crops into electricity cuts energy bills and creates the opportunity to make money by selling power, but it has many other benefits for the cereal farmer.

“If a 2,000-acre arable operation uses 500 acres to produce feedstocks for its own AD plant, it can transform the business.

“Per acre, converting silage into electricity is more efficient than growing oilseed rape to produce biodiesel or bioethanol. It also reduces greenhouse gas production and improves biodiversity.

“Biogas is good for farming and it’s good for the environment.”

EnviTec Biogas UK will be at Cereals 2012, which takes place at Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire, on Wednesday, June 13 and Thursday, June 14.

It is part of EnviTec Biogas AG, which is listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange and which operates worldwide through subsidiaries, joint ventures and sales offices.

All EnviTec Biogas UK specialists are based in the UK, leading to quick response times from initial enquiry, through planning and construction, to service.

www.envitec-biogas.com

by S. C.
26 may 2012, World News > Europe

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