‘Getting those much needed energy concepts out into the greater world’

What the Energy in Agriculture conference and exhibition is aiming for is to arm farmers with as much knowledge as possible about bio-energy supply-chain opportunities so that they, in turn, can make the important individual choices for themselves and increase profitability on the farm.

These were the sentiments expressed by Paul Kenny, CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency, who spoke to AgriLand following the launch of the fourth Energy in Agriculture event on the farm of Michéal Looney in Macroom, Co. Cork, on Thursday, July 18.

Energy in Agriculture was launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.

Meanwhile, the event takes place on Tuesday, August 20, at Gurteen Agriculture College – it is a joint initiative between Teagasc, Tipperary County Council, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Tipperary Energy Agency and Gurteen Agricultural College.

‘Armed and ready’

Meanwhile, Kenny pointed to last year’s attendance which came in at around 3,000 and highlighted the opportunities the enormous gathering of farmers gave organisers “to get those much needed concepts out into the greater world”.

All of this is about education – it’s education for me as well because I’m learning a lot about agriculture through this process.

He continued: “I’m not from an agricultural background and so there is a lot I need to learn too – everyone is learning in all of this.

“What we want for farmers is to help them make the best choices for the type of land and set-up that they have.”

Kenny then pointed to marginal land and how it can be used as a bio-energy source. He also highlighted the importance of farmers being able to make “informed decisions” within the whole area.

If you look at marginal land and for example, trees – they grow very fast on marginal land – as do rotation forests and crops like willow, etc.

He added: “So, if someone comes to a farmer and says we have some customers for bio-energy would you be interested in supplying, the idea is that the farmer would know exactly want he can and needs to do in an effort to meet expectation and demand.

“If that farmer happens to have some marginal land that can be utilised to achieve this, well then, armed with the knowledge to determine whether or not he needs to look into the matter further – anything is possible.

If he realises that he requires more information or further supports to bring the idea to fruition and he is able to access all of that then a lot has been achieved.

“The concept is no longer alien – all of this is really important.”