Willow proves its usefulness for disposing of harmful waste

SPREADING waste materials over willow rather than grass or crops is far more environmentally friendly, a leading wood energy company has claimed.

Waterford-based Natural Power Supply said the practice prevents potentially harmful substances contained in such waste from re-entering the food chain as happened in the course of the pig industry crisis.

The company is urging contractors who are currently land-spreading over vegetables, crops or grass to divert such waste materials to willow plantations.

It said willow effectively consumes waste and industry by-products as part of its natural growth cycle, known as bio-filtration, and produces a high quality wood within a three year cycle which fuels high-performance wood burners.

Managing director and shareholder James Kennedy said bio-filtration is an effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly way of treating a waste product and one which does not allow the produce to re-enter the human food chain.

“NPS were the first company to demonstrate bio-filtration on a large scale using willow in 2003 and proved the concept using a large scale brewery liquid trial, which was monitored independently by experts from the soil and hydrology sciences.

“From there we have gone on to successfully establish and manage large scale individual willow plantations and are in active discussions with a number of local authorities around the country to discuss bio-filtration of their sludge.

“We’ve also helped individual clients manage their own waste on site, reducing the environmental impact and the need to transport waste,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said a number of clients have harvested the willow to fuel their own boilers or they are selling it commercially.

“Diverting waste materials to willow is not just sustainable, it makes far more economic sense, particularly given the fall-out from the pig industry crisis in recent days,” he said.

NPS said it has developed a successful template of nutrient management planning which has been accepted by all the local authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency in monitoring its various sites.

This plan takes into account the analysis of the waste substance, the soil analysis and the yield capacity of the site and then calculates the exact amount required on a hectare by hectare basis.

As well as helping to manage willow plantations, NPS also plants willow for its growing clientele, sells willow varieties best suited to Irish local climates and integrates the sale of willow harvest into the wood fuel supply.

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