From fuel to fashion

CROP PRODUCTION for fuel and industrial processing is being highlighted again at the show, although with a more ambitious programme and new attractions.

The feature is organised by the Agricultural and Rural Strategy Group at DEFRA‘s Central Science Laboratory (CSL), which is working with the National Non-Food Crops Centre at York University to produce a feature that brings together farmers and potential customers.

There will be plots of some of the novel crops, as well as a daily Fashion Show of clothing made of natural fibres, including nettles, peat and bamboo, as well as kapok and fibres based on starch and cellulose.

“Some of the fibres in the Fashion Show are very new, and they include a number that potentially offer significant opportunities for UK agriculture,” said Caroline Holmes of the CSL.

“We decided to feature clothing because we want farmers to be aware of the possibilities for fibre production.

“Clothing is also something the general public can relate to, and this is an opportunity to raise awareness about novel fibres.”

The motor industry‘s huge appetite for raw materials could provide new markets for UK farmers to supply.

The Royal Show exhibit will also examine opportunities for producing fibres to make insulation materials and even building blocks used in the construction industry.

There will also be information about other new or expanding markets for non-food crops ranging from health products and cosmetics to lubricants and biodiesel or biomass fuels.

An important feature of this year‘s exhibit will be the “brokerage” centre, the interactive database that can link farmers with organisations offering contracts for growing non-food crops.

Crops featured in the database include borage, camelina, echium, oilseed rape for biodiesel plus willow grown as short rotation coppice and miscanthus.

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