Creative meeting at Vreta Kluster
A farmer from Östergötland and a professor from Mexico took part in a lively conversation. At a guess, they’re discussing issues concerning biogas. The place is Vreta Kluster, in the middle of the Östergötland agricultural landscape. It’s time for the Jam Session at GIN2012.
Four companies were in the limelight at the Jam Session organised by Vreta Kluster; all, of course, with connections to agriculture. Over the course of an intensive afternoon, an international body of researchers reviewed their opportunities and challenges.
Lars Askling presented his “System Cameleon” multi-machine, which he produces and sells through his company Gothia Redskap. The machine is constructed of modules that can be assembled in different ways, and therefore is very flexible. It is specially developed for ecological farming, with a capacity for things like mechanically processing weeds.
Today, 15% of all farming in Sweden is ecological, Askling claims, however we’re lagging behind in terms of research, plant breeding and technical development. The company Biototal produces biofertiliser from by-products of the manufacturing of biogas. Company representative Tomas Kjellquist described how biofertiliser could not only replace artificial fertiliser, but also contribute more nutrients in a better balance that both earth and plants need.
The farms that go over to biofertiliser, specially assembled based on their needs, report higher crop yields on their lands. This is a way of rehabilitating depleted land especially in the long term, claims Kjellquist.
The two other companies: Energifabriken and Svejo produce biodiesel and biogas respectively and are both run by visionary farmers. Biogas can be produced from a range of different by-products, such as cow manure, plant by-products, food waste, household waste, grass, corn, and sugar beets, claims Svejo’s Anders Johansson. The trick is to get a good mix; a major challenge is ensuring more efficient transport.
Energifabriken was founded by three young farming families in 2006 and initiated biodiesel production during 2010. Today all their machines, other equipment, and transport run on home-brewed biodiesel. Managing farming on 700 hectares requires cultivation on 70 ha - that is, 10% of the total land.
“This is better than when horses were used,” said company representative David Varverud. Two horses needed to till 50 hectares used 15 acres of pasture, so biodiesel is clearly more efficient.
The companies were reviewed in an “SWOT” analysis. They were divided into four groups and their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats were identified. The results were positively surprising for many.
“You have good viewpoints,” one of the businessmen said thoughtfully. Several of the researchers stated that this was more constructive than they had dared hope.
Helene Oscarsson, Project Manager for Vreta Kluster hosted the session and she illustrated a picture of the dynamic that characterises the rapidly growing collaboration initiatives within green business. Mats Eklund, professor of Environmental Technology was the opening speaker and described how city and country need to be linked together in new and creative ways in this period of urbanisation and megalopoli.
Photo: Per Frankelius
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Last updated: 2012-10-31