Bracken, rushes, gorse and many other low value organic cellulosic materials are seen as pest crops wasting valuable land that could be commercially used by many land managers, but a new view of these troublesome ‘crops’ could be about to launch in Scotland, where they could be used to make environmentally friendly liquid biofuel.
Organised by Oakland Biofuels Ltd in association with Scottish Land & Estates, a demonstration day at Stidriggs Farm, on Annandale Estate of the technologies for the viable harvesting of Bracken, was demonstrated on 7th September. Turning bracken from an increasing and widespread problem into a harvestable resource meets a number of economic, environmental and health objectives that should be of interest to all stakeholders with an interest in land management and the environment as well as land managers and farmers who have a bracken problem. The equipment on show included cutting and raking equipment from German Manufacturer, Brielmaier, which use 2 foot wide metal alloy wheels with inch and a half spikes to provide guaranteed grip and low ground pressure simultaneously. These machines are so easy to use that one of the Brielmaier staff’s own children, (approx 10 year old) demonstrated his driving skill at the lunchtime break.
Once the cutter has mown a good swath of bracken, a rake attachment then transformed the debris into nice neat rows, approximately every 10 feet. Next to demonstrate its capability was a SCHILTRAC Tractor/Harvester unit, which with double tyres on all 4 of the 4 wheel drive, 4 wheel steer machine, made easy work for the soft sloped ground where the rows of bracken had been gathered. Quickly filling the large hopper compartment on the back this then delivered its load to the side of the ORKEL Baler/Wrapper. Loaded by a conventional tractor based loader, this machine converted the load from the harvester into a neatly wrapped into a 1 tonne bale. This bale along with others could then be easily and cost effectively be transported to a Bioethanol facility.
The demonstration was attended by SLE members, local farmers, and representatives from conservation and forestry based organisations. Jeremy Oakley, the man behind Oakland Biofuels Ltd, was on hand to discuss their plans and ambitions, and was keen to point out that the biofuel manufacture can be achieved from most ‘green waste’ and is not limited to those ‘crops’ demonstrated at the demo. Oakland is keen to look at bioethanol produced from local authority green waste, forestry waste (brash), invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam plus Rhododendron.
For more information about the production of Biofuels from Bracken and other vegetation, please see the presentation below by Oakland Biofuels Ltd.