Grants and Planning
Growing trees for woodfuel should be considered as Productive Forestry with a specific market in mind. There are no Government grants specifically targeted at growing for biomass, but other productive forestry grants could be accessed.
Planning to grow trees for timber on any scale can be a complicated issue and employing a professional with be worthwhile. We recommend Buccleuch Rural Solutions as multi-disciplinary agents who can cover everything from land management to woodland design and timber marketing.
Short Rotation Forestry
When growing trees for biomass, the rotations can be greatly reduced to take advantage of the quickest part of the growing cycle: often around 20 years. This method is known as Short Rotation Forestry and this is a fast developing area for UK forestry. Ground preparation and spacing will always be a compromise of factors and depend on the site, but normal spacing for SRF would be 2,500 stems/ha. You will still want to match species to site, but will most likely have a preference for hardwoods due to their suitability for woodfuel: they are drier with a higher calorific value, despite growing more slowly. Cell grown plants are recommended for SRF because good early establishment is so essential to the project and the use of Albacote Fertiliser should be considered. Given suitable growing conditions, the following average yields could be expected over 50 years:
Birch – yield of 100 dry tonnes/ha using a 20 year rotation
Sycamore – yield of 350 dry tonnes/ha using a 20 year rotation
Eucalyptus – yield of 750 dry tonnes/ha using a 20 year rotation
Aspen – yield of 280 dry tonnes/ha using a 20 year rotation
Hornbeam – data not available
Norway Maple – data not available, but expected to perform similarly to sycamore
Field Maple – data not available
Red Alder– data not available, but estimated to yield approximately 300 dry tonnes/ha using a 15 year rotation
Common Alder – yield of 250 dry tonnes/ha using a 15 year rotation
Sweet Chestnut – data not available, but will outperform most listed species in warm climates.
Beech -data not available
Oak – data not available. Oak is relatively quick to establish, but then starts to grow more slowly.
Sitka Spruce – yield of 360 dry tonnes/ha using a 20 year rotation
Willows can be grown on far shorter rotations, but their moisture content can be very high and there is often a lot of bark, both of which makes processing difficult.