R&D – it’s an exciting time to be an energy crop grower!

Perennial energy crops are a relative newcomer to the world of creating energy from non-fossil fuel sources. Whilst they’ve been used for centuries as a traditional method of producing wooden stems for craft and construction, their full potential as a reliable and renewal source of biomass for power and heat generation is still being realised.

ECC has worked with research agencies such as Rothamsted over many years and is able to pass on the very latest developments in this fast-growing industry.

To date, Neil Watkins has worked on many different research projects, including:

  • Which variety of willow has the best weed-suppression potential
  • The effects of different herbicides on perennial energy crops
  • Design of specialist equipment
  • Flood water level monitoring
  • Planting design to maximise Natural Flood Management
  • Comparative analysis of different energy crops (Willow, Poplar, and Miscanthus) yields
  • Carbon capture, sequestration, and mitigation of perennial energy crops
  • Stock trials – grazing stock animals amongst perennial energy crops

A slide from a report into extensive flood management research performed by Neil Watkins and a collaborative research team

These pole-mounted flood-monitoring cameras were installed on Paradigm Farm’s SRC Willow Crop in partnership with The Rivers Trust

Measuring wood-to-bark ratios and yield-to-year growth

Measuring flood levels where Energy Crops have been planted for flood management

Trial of different stock breeds and grazing amongst perennial energy crops