Planting Willow for fuel : news update


So on Monday we planted the 150 Willow setts. Yesterday we laid out and pushed in 535 supporting canes along the boundary of the Small Holding. Today we cut another 408 setts off the Willow plantation, pictured above, ready to go. We hoped to get 500 plus but alas, its a little windy here……

…..But as its the end of December its amazing to be outside working in T-Shirts!!!

Our aim is to plant 1000 setts this year, if we plant what we have above we will have just got over halfway!!!!

Googling some data on wood fuel, and how much we might need, the figures, as an average from a number of sites seem to crunch out like this:

4,800 coppiced/pollarded willows will provide 6 tonnes of wood each year on a 4 year rotation (i.e you cut 1/4 each year)

This roughly equates to 1400 litres of heating oil or 16,000 kwh of Gas.

Google tells me that an average house in the UK will use the equivalent of about 2000 litres of heating each year. I don’t know how much Gas, as we have oil here and that is what I am interested in replacing!!

I estimate we only use about 1000 litres of heating oil a year here, its reduced because our hot water is supported by solar heating, backed by an electric heater (itself supported by solar panels).

Calculating out the above figures – 1200 willows will equate to 350 litres of oil, so 1000 litres of oil will require 3,360 willows!!! We have a long way to go!!!!!

Most of these willows will be planted in the bottom field – after the first year they will need to be cut, to produce the multiple stems that makes them so efficient in supplying wood. Whilst they are growing in the initial years we will fence them off from the sheep in the field. However, as we will pollard these rather then coppice them, the sheep will eventually be able to graze between them. This will reduce the space lost, and make maintenance easier!!

It will be interesting to see how far off these figures from reality will be in the coming years.




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