Government supported schemes
At present the farm is in Entry and Higher level agri-environmental schemes. These are funds by Natural England which is an agency of Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA. The support is paid on an income forgone basis. We have among other things put in field margins, rotational hedge cutting once every 3 years, over-wintered stubbles, low in-put spring cereal, nectar and pollens rich areas, wildbird seed areas, woodland management, permissive footpath, and educational access. We are paid by Natural England for doing these things and they have a wonderful benefit for wildlife when done properly.
20kw of panels were put on the south west facing roof of the cow shed
in March 2013. For half the year they produce a good quantity of electricity but once the days shorten the amount falls rapidly. We try to use as much as possible; in summer some is used for milking morning and afternoon and for heating water. Also for grain drying but there is still a lot that is exported to the national grid.
We get paid for what is exported but at a much lower rate than we pay to import electric, we also get the Feed In Tariff on all we produce and it is this that makes the panels economically viable.
In 2015 we put in a 60kw biomass boiler to heat the farm house, a rented house, the meeting room where visits are hosted and the water for washing the milking equipment.
The boiler burns air dried logs from the woodland. This happens in two stages; the logs burn in an upper chamber and the hot gases are sucked into a lower chamber where more air is blown in and the volatile gases ignited. Then the hot mixture of air and CO2 goes through a heat exchanger and heats the water in a 4000lt buffer tank. This is a fast and furious burn that is very efficient; about 96% of the calorific value of the timber is stored in the water and the flue gases have very few particulates and nitrous oxides. This water is then pumped round to various heat exchangers when heat is required.
We get Renewable Heat Incentives on nearly every kWh (Kilowatt hour) produced.