A Herefordshire farm walk and tour will explore the energy crop market with a focus on poplar trees as an additional farm diversification and revenue source.
NFU Energy is urging farmers and growers to head to Lower Lulham Farm on 8 March for the event, which will look at poplar tree management, harvesting and potential markets.
Hereford NFU members George Snell, his brother Nic and family, are blackcurrant and apple growers but run their Certainly Wood business from the farm and are pioneers in the kiln dried firewood market.
Their father, Hugh, was the first to plant poplars at the business back in the 1960s.
They have now developed the business into the largest specialist producer in the UK, currently producing more than 20,000 tonnes of premier kiln dried firewood a year.
William Jackson, of the Poplar Tree Company who is also procurement and operations manager for Certainly Wood, will lead the walk and George Snell will give an introduction.
Those interested in energy crops, those looking to plant a poplar crop or who have one already established are urged to attend and the event will run from 11am to 2pm.
Refreshments and lunch will be provided but places must be booked by contacting [email protected] by email.
Visitors will see the business’ cutting beds, wider planted mature poplar trees and an innovative tree planting trial looking at eucalyptus.
Farmers will meet at the Certainly Wood board room at Lower Lulham Farm, Lulham, Hereford, HR2 9JJ, at 11am.
“Those who attend will be able to find out more about the family business and forest management, commercial woodland planting and habitat creation.
“We will look at all manner of poplar production, including using the tree in a short rotation forestry crop and as a short rotation coppice crop and how to push whips and cuttings into the ground at the correct spacings, alongside a host of other issues.
“William is focused on delivering expertise in poplar, woodland creation and management, and farm diversification and we are delighted the Snell family are able to accommodate us.
“If you have questions on agronomy, economics or logistics they will all be addressed.”
The farm walk is in association with Envirocrops – a project supported by the Government’s Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme.
Members of the Envirocrops team will be on hand to give the latest information on the web app that is being developed to provide decision support to farmers and consultants.
The Envirocrops consortium is led by the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) with support from two energy in agriculture consultancies: Crops for Energy Ltd and NFU Energy and software development company, Calvium.