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Potential of New Biomass Energy Crops Explored 17 April 2009

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has started planting one of two 2.5 acre trial plots of short rotation willow coppice at Meary Veg, Santon, with a second to follow at Knockaloe Farm. It is envisaged that the practical trial will run alongside a research document which the Department has commissioned into the effectiveness and potential of farm-grown fuel sources, including short rotation coppice, as an alternative crop for Manx farmers. Coppice Harvest

Each block will contain 15,000 willow plants of 5 different varieties specifically bred to be high yielding and capable of producing up to 7 oven dried tonnes per acre per year.

This trial will also run alongside other developments of the use of timber as a sustainable fuel for the future. The Department is keen to promote the great potential of locally grown timber as a sustainable, carbon neutral, environmentally sound fuel in addition to its use for fencing, garden and other timber products which are available to the public and trade customers from the Sawmill at St. John’s.

Minister, Phil Gawne MHK, explained the Department’s thinking in supporting this trial. “The Isle of Man is heavily reliant on imported fuel and, of course, must play its part in reducing carbon emissions in an endeavour to reduce the pace of climate change. While this relatively small trial will have only a limited initial effect it could be developed as one of a number of fuel sources to meet our nation’s future energy needs. There is also a significant potential for farmers seeking to diversify and develop additional income streams, which the new Countryside Care Scheme now encourages.”

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