Crops for biogas

Bright Maize supply maize, hybrid rye, grass and fodder beet seed to the UK biogas industry.

Maize is the largest single crop grown for biogas hence the large increase in maize acreage, particularly in the East of England. There is a growing area put down to Hybrid Rye, not just to spread the seasonal risk and workload from growing a fewer number of crops but the fact it is capable of producing acceptable yields from average fields. Fodder Beet has also increased partly as the demand for Sugar Beet has diminished, but also as the area is by no means restricted to the East of England. The use of catch crops particularly grass has also increased as margins have become tighter.

Methane production

Maize can be a very fickle crop for the unwary and the right choice of variety for every situation is paramount. With our experience of growing maize across the whole of the UK we are in a position to supply and advise farmers with the best options.

We use our own trial results as well as NIAB to make recommendations. It is essential to choose varieties that give a high energy yield and actually mature early enough to establish a following crop.

A few varieties to consider are:

Mas 17E  group 7 fao 210 Superb variety for both quality and yield, sideways facing cobs for rapid dry down. Big seller in east and central England.
Mas 11F  group 7/8 fao 190  Recommended by NIAB as a Biodigester maize. Early vigour gets the crop away quickly in spring.
Mas 10A  group 7 fao 200/210  A very high level of starch, thanks to a good level of hemicellulose it is very adapted for the biogas production.

Fodder Beet- one of the criteria for choosing a variety has got to be the dirt tare and root shape as the beet has to be clean and is generally washed. Bright Mazie has access to most of the varieties currently grown.

Grass silage is becoming popular as a feedstock for digesters. Many farmers have surplus amounts of grass at certain times of the year and an AD plant is generally a good home. Italian Rye grass and Westerwold’s are popular choices often as a catch crop but longer-term leys are also a possibility.

Anaerobic Digestion Grass Mixtures

These consist of Aber High Sugar Grass varieties that have been bred for higher water-soluble carbohydrate (sugar) content, and rate highly for D-value, offering the ideal combination of characteristics for an AD feedstock, whether ensiled or as a fresh crop.

Mixture 14 KG/acre Variety Type
Short Term 5.00
4.00
5.00
14KG
AberEve
AberEcho
AberNiche
Hybrid (T) Ryegrass
Hybrid (T) Ryegrass
Festulolium
Medium Term 8.00
6.00
14KG
AberMagic
AberEcho
Intermediate Perennial Ryegrass
Hybrid (T) Ryegrass
Long Term 4.00
5.00
5.00
14KG
AberGreen AberMagic
AberBite
Intermediate Perennial Ryegrass
Intermediate Perennial Ryegrass
Late (T) Perennial Ryegrass

Hybrid Rye is very much a growing market as producers try to spread their risk due to the unpredictability of the British climate. Rye also spreads the autumn workload as harvest is generally in July and opens up another drilling window for other crops. Bright Maize supply mainly winter sown Hybrid Rye for wholecrop, but can supply Forage Rye for a leafier type silage.

Silage Inoculants

One hectare of maize can produce up to 10,000m3 of biogas. This figure depends on the quality of silage so any small improvement can make a huge impact on profitability.

Biogas Extra, the new additive from Bright Seeds has been specifically formulated for maize silage intended for biodigesters.

Biogas Extra results in high acetic acid levels providing aerobic stability as well as enhancing the rate and quantity of biogas production. Biogas yield increases of 4.3% have been observed, providing 3x return on the cost of the inoculant!