Crops for energy
Topic of the practice
Good Practice Information
Research into the potential of crops for energy has been ongoing at the Crops Research Centre in Oak Park, Carlow, since the 1970s. In recent times there has been growing interest among farmers in growing energy crops and among consumers in using greener alternatives to fossil fuels. Research at Oak Park is centred around growing of bioenergy crops together with harvesting and logistics. Trial work on alternative drying methods of willow in a low cost system has successfully been proven in drying trials. Energy crops such as willow, miscanthus, switch grass, reed canary grass and hemp are grown at the Oak Park research centre and trial work will continue on these crops on agronomical aspects such as weed control, bioremediation and crop nutrition. Work has already been completed on quality issues with Rape Methyl Ester (Biodiesel) and Pure Plant Oil (PPO). Other research work includes wood and crop residue densification through pelleting together with quality and combustion trials. The privately owned forests in Ireland provide an important source of wood chip for the emerging biomass heat market. The Teagasc Forestry Development Unit provide specialised advice for landowners considering planting, those with existing forests that require thinning and on the potential markets for timber at various stages.
Evidence of success
Teagasc has developed an energy crops calculator which assists advisers and farmers in calculating the return on their investment in energy crops such as willow, miscanthus, reed canary grass and hemp. Fact sheets have been produced on the various crops as well as a farm energy manual which summarises the agronomy, management and marketing of energy crops, Teagasc have also developed a crops DVD looking at the agronomy, management and harvesting of willow and miscanthus.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice