Two years ago, at the last NAAC conference, I talked about how we planned to feed Oxfordshire’s first biogas plant, writes Charlie Baker, Farmers Weekly/JCB Contractor of the Year 2009..

Now into the final planning phase, Agrivert’s Cassington anaerobic digester looks likely to be pumping out the megawatts by autumn 2010.

We will be producing the silage which will make up a third of the feedstock. The aim is to stabilise gas production as food waste alone cannot operate the digester. Silage is an essential element in balancing bacteria levels for the plant to produce biogas.

We’ll also be spreading the digestate fertiliser on arable land in the area – this will eliminate the use of artificial fertiliser on these and potentially other crops.

And it is on this topic that I have been asked to speak at next week’s NAAC Contractor 2009 conference. My presentation will focus on the opportunities that anaerobic digestion could potentially provide for contractors.

This is an exciting topic, especially as communities are becoming much more environmentally aware and concerned over waste. Biogas plants can reduce landfill which has clear benefits to the environment and the public. It also has many direct advantages to farmers and contractors.

Food waste is always going to be an issue and, in truth, we will never be able to use all of the food bought and produced in this country. But being able to use the waste in a positive way makes it more acceptable – the anaerobic digester produces power and a nutrient from a waste product.

Where and when?

The National Association of Agricultural Contractors’ conference:

Thursday 10 December 2009, 10am

Warwick Complex, Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry, Warwickshire

Tickets are free to NAAC members and £30 to non-members (refundable if joining the association). Farmers are welcome to attend too.

For more information visit www.naac.co.uk or call 08456 448 750