Norfolk farmer boosts ‘green’ energy gas production

New nitrogen product, Piadin

New nitrogen product, Piadin - Credit: submitted

A leading Norfolk maize grower and contractor boosted yields and further reduced nitrogen fertiliser losses by applying a new stabiliser product.

In trials under comparable conditions in northern Germany, biogas or energy maize crops showed a yield increase of an average 11pc.

Farmer and contractor Olly Arnold, of Spring Farm, Felthorpe, near Norwich, who grows about 2,500 acres of maize for biogas or green energy, used the nitrogen stabiliser, Piadin, on crops last spring.

Rob Buck, of Gleadell Agriculture, said that maize growers planning pre-drilling applications of slurry and AD plant digestate could reduce nitrogen volatilisation and nitrate leaching by adding a nitrogen stabiliser to spread material.

Mr Arnold used Piadin with the digestate on trial areas of crops grown on contract to Future Biogas, which produces 'green' electricity by burning the gas through the anaerobic digestion process.

And one of the directors of Future Biogas, which runs two plants at Felthorpe, Suffolk farmer Oliver Knowland, said that initial results were encouraging. Despite a difficult season in which application was delayed, results from trials with Piadin-treated digestate suggested that the product went some way to preventing leaching and volatilisation losses. He said that weather delays to application did cause issues with maturity and harvest date.

'This year we hope to be able to use it with earlier digestate applications, in February and March, and will be adding 1,800 litres to sufficient digestate,' he said. This would cover between 300 and 400 hectares (about 1000 acres) of ha of the 1,000ha grown for the two plants at a digestate application rate of 30 to 35 cubic metre per hectare.

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Gleadell is working with Future Biogas to show how Piadin, from German firm SKW Piesteritz, works in this country.

'Piadin will be used on 10pc of all energy maize crops this coming year. Defra and energy maize seed breeders are carrying out in-depth trials into its environmental effects and yield benefits,' added Mr Buck.