A new game has been created to help school children and students involved in agricultural and environmental studies to better understand how to grow the biomass crops Miscanthus and Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) Willow.
Biomass is seen as a key element of the UK’s transition to Net Zero emissions, with the Climate Change Committee (CCC) suggesting that the UK will require 700,000 hectares of these crops to be planted by 2050 to achieve the target. Currently there are under 20,000 hectares of perennial biomass crops planted in the UK – roughly 3,000 hectares of SRC Willow and 13,000 hectares of Miscanthus. 25,000 hectares per year would need to be planted every year between 2030 – 2050 in order to achieve the CCC’s number.
As knowledge of these crops is not yet widespread, thousands of skilled workers, including contractors, consultants, policy makers, biomass and carbon traders will be required if the industry is to expand to this level. Those starting off their farming journeys will also need additional guidance on areas including the most effective ways of growing and managing biomass crops, their integration into a wider farming business and environment impact.
The ‘Cropper’ game has been produced as part of the Envirocrops project – a government funded collaboration between AFBI, Crops for Energy, NFU Energy and Calvium, with the ambition of producing a decision support app for crops that can be grown for environmental gain, providing users with economic and logistical information on the options available. The game aims to help the next generation of farming professionals and features animations, climate change scenarios and real life situations that can affect the growing of crops. Players need to try and produce 800 tonnes of biomass over a ten year period, while achieving a decent profit.
Kevin Lindegaard of Crops for Energy said:
“Cropper could just as easily be called “Biomass Apprentice”. It should be possible for players to go from being a biomass rookie into a biomass winner in just three goes. Players should be able to quickly get to know all the dos and don’ts associated with growing these crops.
“Like any game it involves some degree of skill, judgement and learning from mistakes. It also requires luck as we have added some realistic climate change jeopardies such as drought, floods, fire and pests that could scupper a good crop. Players will develop their knowledge on how to grow these crops but also have their eyes open to the pitfalls of how to adapt when stuff happens!”
Further information and the game itself can be found at www.envirocrops.com