Plant residue grain dryer that has saved Duns farmer £28,000

A Duns farmer showcasing how farms can reduce their carbon footprint and save money by using renewable fuels has spoken to local farmers about his pilot project’s success.

John Seed, a bio-energy specialist, of Woodend Farm used oilseed rape straw rather than fossil fuel to dry grain from his 2011 harvest, and he estimates it saved him £28,000.

Last summer Mr Seed set up a new grain store and grain drying facilities, which used £2,000-worth of oil seed rape straw, instead of the £30,000 he would expect to pay for fossil fuels to provide the same energy. The unit could use wood chips, light grain and other biomass materials instead of the straw

The unit was intended to be self-sufficient and sustainable in its use of natural resources, and demonstrate how farmers can improve business efficiency while reducing carbon emissions.

Mr Seed is extending the system to heat the radiators and water tanks of all the houses at Woodend Farm from the same bio-fuel boiler, which should save his total domestic heating bill of £9,000 a year (based on last year).

Mr Seed, who holds the UK franchise for the boiler system made by Overdahl, reports it performs with an efficiency of 87 per cent.

Ash from the unit is used as a soil conditioner on the farm to recover phosphate and potash in the straw, thereby reducing the cost of fertiliser. He also has a solar panel array in front of the grain store, which was put up in conjunction with the Borders Machinery Ring.

Given the rough figures from his pioneering project in 2011, John calculates he is reducing his costs and getting a return on his investment of approximately 12 per cent a year.

Patrick Playfair, a chartered surveyor handling rural and environmental affairs for Edwin Thompson estate agents, said: “Edwin Thompson hosted a group of local young professionals and farmers, and had a very informative tour of the new facilities at Woodend recently, which has generated much discussion and interest.

“John’s ambitions to show how a commercial agricultural business can reduce its carbon footprint with significant financial benefits are a shining example of the future for similar businesses. We are delighted to be assisting John.”

Anyone wishing to know more about the Woodend Farm project can contact John Farrell of Overdahl UK on 0844 740 7492 or at john.farrell@overdahl.co.uk.