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Gnáthamharc

Alternative Farm Enterprises.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 11 March 2010

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ceisteanna (29, 30)

P. J. Sheehan

Ceist:

27 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of hectares planted in the production of biofuels; the breakdown of the crops planted; the number of hectares of each he expects to plant in 2010; the breakdown of the crops planted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11983/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

196 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the area of land currently dedicated to the growing of various forms of biofuels; the degree to which production is in line with projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12182/10]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 196 together.

Less than 0.2% of the agricultural land in Ireland is under non-food crops made up of oilseeds, miscanthus, willow and small quantities of wheat and oats used for energy purposes. The table below details the areas sown between 2007 and 2009 in hectares.

Year

Willow

Miscanthus

Oilseed rape

Hemp & switch grass

Total Hectares

2007

65

630

7,959

90

8,744

2008

127

780

3,087

137

4,131

2009

170

740

2,300

100

3,310

As the table shows, production has concentrated on the cultivation of oilseeds, willow and miscanthus. Oilseed rape is traditionally grown in Ireland as a break crop in a one-in-four year rotation for use in the biofuel, food and animal feed markets. Willow and miscanthus crops produce pellet and wood chip materials to generate heat and power in the domestic and commercial sectors. It is anticipated that 1,000 ha of willow and miscanthus will be planted in 2010 under the new round of the Bioenergy Scheme.

The sector is still in the early stages of development. In general, the production of energy crops will be sustainable in the longer term if the economic returns are comparable with those offered by traditional farm enterprises. Much will depend on profitability at farm level and on the rate of development of production and consumption patterns for bioenergy feedstocks.

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