CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Farming Fuel

PUBLISHED: 22:48 20 June 2012 | UPDATED: 22:03 21 February 2013

Farming future: Solar and wind power, coppice and manure can all make a huge difference to the way we live our lives - and farmers can provide it all.

Farming future: Solar and wind power, coppice and manure can all make a huge difference to the way we live our lives - and farmers can provide it all.

Adam Henson, presenter of the BBC's Countryfile, gives his thoughts on farming of the future having the potential to fuel the UK.

The British countryside has always fed the population; its been the farmers job to provide food for the nations table. But in the 21st century our fields and farms also have the potential to help fuel the UK too. Technology and necessity are giving farmers the opportunity to go green to provide energy for themselves and others.

For the environmentally-minded, there are several options. The first, and possibly the easiest, is capturing the suns rays through solar PV panels (or photovoltaic cells) to produce electricity.

The roofs of large buildings like grain stores and animal sheds are ideal for installing panels and its an ingenious way of powering things like farm machinery and milking parlours. The electricity generated by PV cells can also be fed in to the National Grid.

Then theres the altogether more contentious option of wind turbines. For some farmers it makes sense to harness the power of nature in this way, whether they put up a single turbine to run things like poultry houses and pig units or erect a bigger wind farm. As with all innovations though, it has to be the right development in the right place. Turbines are not to everyones taste and there are lots of locations where theyre just not suitable. In fact, in some areas there are strict planning constraints and it remains a controversial issue.

Theres been less media coverage and public debate about using organic matter to provide power. Some farmers are producing biogas by putting things like vegetable waste, manure or a range of crops into a digester to produce methane.

The gas is used to drive energy-generating engines and create electricity which, again, can be fed in to the grid. In Europe this is a relatively common way for farmers to generate energy and although its nowhere near as popular in the UK, the idea is gradually gaining support here.

Then theres biomass. This is energy produced from burning plant matter in biomass power stations. The two main sources are farming by-products, like straw, and specially grown crops like willow or poplar coppice which are cut and chipped before being incinerated.

For me, renewables are one part of the solution. As food producers, I think farmers have a responsibility to give serious thought not only to energy production but also our own energy use.

In the last few years, enormous strides have been made to improve our carbon footprint, reduce fuel use and increase efficiency.

Across the country an increasing number of farmers are recycling rain water, sharing machinery and using satellite imaging to spray and harvest with more precision.

Together, I reckon thats the secret to a leaner, greener future.

0 comments

More from Out & about

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Mon, 15:25

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search