National Non-Food Crops Centre Grasping the Green Agenda conference

The National Non-Food Crops Centre’s Grasping the Green Agenda conferences (see details below), in conjunction with Crops, offer growers specific content to help make the most of non-food crop opportunities. Crops outlines the areas growers could be interested in…

Renewable fuels and materials made of crops offer an exciting opportunity to develop more sustainable resources. UK renewable supply chains expand markets for crop material and can help cut our greenhouse gas emissions.

For crop-derived renewable materials and technologies to succeed we must integrate the full supply chain – from growers through research and manufacture right up to the consumer. Renewables impact on a broad arena, including biofuels and biomass energy, renewable packaging, speciality crops and renewable building materials.

The speciality crops sector covers several applications. It focuses on high value, low volume markets like pharmaceuticals, essential oils and dyes. These markets demand material of a high specification supported by good traceability; as such, income generated can be high. Key opportunities are for on-farm or co-operative extraction, processing and even manufacture. Local retail of herbal and essential oil products can also be profitable. Speciality oil crops include borage, camelina and echium. Dill, foxglove and chamomile are grown for high-value medicinal purposes.

Compostable packaging is a significant area of activity and interest. Certain renewable packaging materials made of crop starch or cellulose are home compostable because they biodegrade. Others can be composted on an industrial scale. We must define and address the needs for disposal of these renewable materials so they can be fully included in the UK waste disposal infrastructure.

Novel renewable construction materials made of materials like straw bales and hemp offer business opportunities. Public awareness is improving as “green” building becomes mainstream. The need to use less energy – coupled with awareness of embodied energy – should strengthen these markets. Communicating the benefits, and justifying an often higher cost, are challenges. The most successful renewable building products may be those which require minimal special training, treatment or aftercare.

The largest focus for renewable materials is liquid biofuels for transport, which when sustainably produced, play a part in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Bioethanol is made of wheat, corn and sugar beet. Biodiesel is made of oilseed rape, palm oil and soybean feedstock. Biofuels are made more viable in the UK by tax rebates and the imminent introduction of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which requires the inclusion of 5% biofuel in UK road fuels by 2010.

For more information about the range of market opportunities, to network or access NNFCC resources, look at the Centre’s new website at


Grasping the Green Agenda with Non-Food Crops
Tuesday 20 November – Pavilion’s of Harrogate, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate
Thursday 22 November – Greetham Valley Conference Centre, Rutland
09:00 Registration
09:45 Opening address
10:30 Update on UK activity – NNFCC
11:00 Policy drivers and opportunities for adding value – NFU
11:20 What does this mean for UK agriculture? – Frontier Agriculture
11:40 Funding new ideas under RDPE – Yorkshire Forward/EMDA
12:00 Panel discussion
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Small-scale biodiesel production – Local producer
13:50 On-farm anaerobic digestion – Dorset farmer Owen Yeatman
14:10 Hemp as a renewable resource for construction – Hemcore
14:30 What are the high-value options? – Technology Crops
14:50 Farmers’ response
15:10 Coffee
15:40 Discussion
16:30 Close

Delegate £30 + VAT a head. Includes lunch and refreshments, plus a delegate pack, which will contain copies of the presentations, speaker profiles and crop info sheets for a number of key non-food crops.

Exhibitor £75 + VAT per event. Provision of a 3 x 3m exhibition area for organisations to promote their products and services to those who attend.
To register please visit or contact Sally Cartman, event Co-ordinator on 01904 435 182 or by email on

The two events have kindly been supported by the following
organisations: Yorkshire Forward; East Midlands Development Agency; Frontier Agriculture; Yorkshire Agricultural Society