While most of people on the outside stands at Lamma were dressed in multiple layers to keep warm, there was one stand where heat was plentiful. It was Glen Farrow’s biomass boiler stand, which was pumping out copious quantities of heat normally intended for drying grain.

The Spalding firm designed its first biomass boiler just two years ago, but now has models that range from 50kW to 400kW. Sales have risen from 40 machines in 2011 to 60 in 2012 and the company reckons it will hit the 150 mark in 2013.

The principle is simple. Bales of wheat, barley, linseed, rape and bean straw, forestry residues, cord-wood or even pallets are loaded into the boiler. The biggest model can even take a full-size Hesston bale.

A small 400W fan provides air flow and allows the water in the 4,000 litre jacket around the boiler to be heated to 80C. Each bale will burn for at least six hours. The Renewable Heat Incentive also allows the farmer to get 5.1p/kW generated on bigger machines, and 8.3p/kW on smaller machines. This revenue is guaranteed for 20 years.

The firm also launched a 5,000 litre accumulator tank for 2013. This allows you to heat the water during the day and then use it as night. This is mainly aimed at those with greenhouses, but could have wider applications within farming.

Cost of the 400kW unit is £18,425.

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