Bioenergy Innovator Launches with Vision to Transform UK Agriculture
Eco Crops Ltd, a new player in the UK's agricultural scene, has officially launched with an ambitious vision to reshape the nation's farming industry through innovative low-carbon perennial wood crop strategies.
Founder and Managing Director Neil Watkins, a leading expert in renewable biomass crops, is paving the way to net zero for farmers across the country, pioneering a future-focused approach that balances profitability with sustainability and biodiversity while protecting and enhancing food production.
"British agriculture is now at a turning point with a clear opportunity to adapt to homegrown renewable energy sources balanced with food production," said Watkins.
With fifteen years of experience in the wood crops and bioenergy sector, Watkins is the driving force behind the company and is guiding the UK's agri-community towards a net zero future through sustainable perennial wood crops.
The launch of Eco Crops Ltd is part of Watkins' vision to help landowners, farmers and energy companies alike reap the benefits of these fast-growing crops.
“Perennial biomass crops enable growers to make the most of their land and generate new revenue while contributing to local biodiversity and our nation's carbon net zero goals.”
"These crops are a great way to diversify the land. I have seen remarkable results, even on marginal land and floodplains. They grow in harmony with livestock or other arable crops as part of a balanced farm mix, complementing food production in agroforestry silvopasture and silvoarable systems.”
In addition to increased financial security, research shows that these perennial wood crops can play a crucial role in reducing carbon, alongside a wealth of other benefits such as providing natural flood solutions, creating wildlife corridors and boosting biodiversity net gain.
Watkins added, “These crops can integrate with existing land use to also enhance food production. They can provide shelter during lambing, grazing for sheep and cattle, and even bedding material. The low-hanging leaves on willow have proven to offer essential nutrients like zinc and cobalt which can enrich feed quality.
“It's an opportunity to create a sustainable and profitable farming future that operates hand in hand with nature.”
Guided by Watkins' extensive experience, Eco Crops Ltd offers honest, independent guidance and comprehensive crop management services with the practical machinery and operators for growers to ensure optimal growth and successful, high-yield harvests for maximum return on their investment.
The company also collaborates with energy companies and retail stockists to build green supply chains, bridging the gap between growers and buyers. Part of this involves the production and sales of various high-quality sustainable wood-based products such as animal bedding, specialist willow mulch, soil improver, and virgin fibre briquettes which offer a clean burn with a higher heat output than many other fuel types.
"Our full-circle approach covers every aspect of crop management, from land preparation and planting to harvesting and selling, ensuring we support the UK farming community on every step of the journey," explained Watkins. "Not only are we creating an additional income stream for growers, but we are also doing our bit to help more farmers achieve carbon neutrality."
Coinciding with the launch of Eco Crops Ltd, Watkins will share his expertise in the field as a featured speaker at the upcoming Low Carbon Agriculture Show at NAEC Stoneleigh in Warwickshire on Thursday 7th March. His talk within the ‘Biomass, Biochar and its Role in Net Zero Plans’ seminar will offer insights into the benefits of perennial wood crops and the strategies for optimising crop yields to support both the economy and the environment.