Worry free Willow

A NEW REVENUE STREAM FOR THE DIXONS

Like a growing number of farm and estate owners in the Cumbria, north England and south Scotland, dairyman Terry Dixon likes the idea of a willow bio-energy plantation. Terry puts it this way, “to diversify and secure long-term sustainability of our Brackenthwaite farm, we welcome a cash crop that doesn’t require a lot of work. Compared with 235 dairy cows, milked twice a day, the contrast is enormous.”

Terry Learned of the willow opportunity at a local meeting, featuring Iggesund’s alternative fuels manager, Neil Watkins, as a speaker. Terry adds, “Iggesund offered a convincing case for willow plantations in our region, and portrayed a complete picture of planting through harvesting, as well as compelling financial returns over a 22 year timespan. So, I signed a contract with Iggesund for planting, harvesting and delivery of willow to their Workington mill. Following my investment in clearing and preparing the land, they will handle everything, including paying us on a steady basis. Planting is happening in May.”

Terry’s wife Eileen welcomes the addition of willow to their dairy farm, because she considers an agricultural energy crop is a good fit. “Market conditions have driven the price of milk so low that farmers like us have become very creative to survive. We have installed our own bio-boiler, a small wind turbine and solar panels. We are looking at many options to bring in additional income. We welcome new possibilities, like short rotation willow, which fit our way of thinking.”

Notes Terry’s son Thomas ”We need diversity to remain prosperous.”