Spring 2010 saw the planting of 15 hectares of willow to provide fuel for the College heating system. This is part of the Renewable Energy programme being implemented at Gurteen. To minimise the risk of losses due to disease, different varieties of willow were planted in adjacent plots. By the autumn many of the plants had exceeded 2 metres in height.
To encourage the production of more shoots, the crop was cut ithe following Spring. As harvesting in the first year is not economical, the cut shoots are left to recycle their nutrients into the soil. Spray was applied in March 2011 to control weeds.
In February 2011 a new 270 metre sq. drying floor was installed within the farm building complex in readiness for the future harvested chipped willow, which will be reduced from 55% moisture to 25% in the process; the plant also has been of great use drying corn and hay already last year. A further 16.1 ha was planted during April 2011, this was topped in February 2012 to encourage further shoots to grow.
The crop was allowed a further two seasons of growth before the first harvest, which was in January 2013.