AFBI can offer customers a breadth of capability across various sources of renewable energy from agriculture (primarily with Short Rotation Coppice Willow) and associated multifunctional uses of these agricultural biomass crops.
Our team of renewable energy specialists can offer customers a breadth of capability across our research programme into sources of renewable energy from agriculture (primarily with Short Rotation Coppice Willow) and associated multifunctional uses of these agricultural biomass crops is varied and includes the following focus and direction.
- Planting density and configuration
- Planting material
- Optimum harvest intervals
- Weed control
- Many of the early willow genotypes were severely affected with rust (Melampsora epitea) which severely reduced yield
- AFBI developed a system of growing willow in genotype mixtures which reduced the impact of the disease and increased yields
- The methods developed are now included in the ‘Best Practice Guidelines’ for SRC willow
There are strong links with Rothamsted Research International, The European and Swedish breeding programmes and the United States (Cornell University) willow breeding programmes. There are ongoing, long term trials to evaluate new (not yet commercialised) willow genotypes. These will have climate change impact implications.
Multifunctional uses of the crops such as for bioremediation/biofiltration and riparian strips for the management of
- Runnoff waters
- Agricultural waste water
- Municipal waste waters
- Landfill leachate
Harvesting and processing
- Comparison of different harvesting and drying methods
- Direct cut and chip
- Whole stem harvesting
Carbon foot -printing of the benefits of such renewable energy schemes
In addition to SRC willow and poplar there are other investigative trials on alternative potential energy crops:
- Miscanthus (elephant grass)
- Paulownia (a very fast growing tropical tree)
- Forest brash