Case Study

Brackenburn


Did you know DEFRA pays landowners to manage bracken, through cutting or spraying herbicide, to encourage biodiversity?

Bracken is a ‘nuisance’ crop that covers 2.5 million acres of the UK. Left unchecked it encroaches by 1 to 3% per year. Spaying is the only effective means of control and this has recently been banned by the EU.

Brackenburn has turned this problem into a clever solution.

They are harvesting the bracken in the traditional way, then shredding and drying it before briquetting it. The end result is ‘Brackettes’ which burn hotter and longer than oak and are ideal for log burners and open fires. Even the residue is useful, being high in potash it makes an excellent fertilizer ideal for the garden.

By harvesting bracken regularly it stops this rhizomatous fern from suffocating the natural fauna and flora, so bluebells can flourish as can all types of wildlife and birds. Another big plus, unlike miscanthus, this biomass fuel does not use up valuable crop growing land for production.

Beyond creating a serious use for this nuisance plant, Brackenburn will provide “farm-to-fuel” education programmes in association with Farmlink (an association which provides ‘countryside’ education to school children) and employment to young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) at its manufacturing operation in rural Somerset.

“Biomass fuels have developed rapidly in the last decade. We’re especially excited to be working with Brackenburn. Their novel use for bracken is a great product, is good for our environment and provides fantastic opportunities for young people.” -Ignite Social Enterprise LP, backed by Centrica Plc