CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Kent 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

On the banks of the Medway and boasting great shopping, dining and cultural attractions, our county town is great to visit at any time of year

Read more
December 2018

In the final month of the 50th Anniversary of the Kent Downs AONB and 40th of the North Downs Way, we’ve chosen 25 places to visit and enjoy in the Kent Downs this winter

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

This walk is the best way to take in the majestic beauty of the Weald of Kent, linking the North Downs Way at Trottiscliffe with the South Downs Way near to Eastbourne

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Counteract all that festive over-indulgence with a winter walk through National Trust-owned Kentish countryside

Read more

This characterful little country town draws history lovers from near and far. Let’s explore Churchill’s beloved Westerham

Read more
November 2018

From Napoleonic forts and wartime shelters to ancient chalk mines, we explore some of Kent’s underground visitor attractions

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Wandering through a festive market with mulled wine in hand is one of the pleasures of the season, so we have picked some of Kent’s best Christmas markets to do just that

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Steam trains, vineyards, tea rooms and a surprising maritime history. We take a look at all this and more on offer in tempting Tenterden

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Being so rich in history, it is hardly surprising that Kent is also a hub for hauntings and ghostly activity. We have gathered 9 of the spookiest locations in Kent to visit if you dare!

Read more

It may have been swallowed up by Greater London, but it still feels more like an idyllic Kentish village

Read more
October 2018

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
Kent Life Food & Drink awards 2016. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life