Herefordshire farm starts its own renewable energy business

23/09/2021 paulcannon

Hundred year-old Caplor Farm is located in Herefordshire’s Wye Valley. The farm owns more than 500 hectares of potatoes and arable crops, as well as 80 cows. In recent times, the farm has expanded its business operations, housing a hospitality lodge with glamping pods. 

Owner Gareth Williams has long been interested in sustainable farming. In 2007, Gareth commissioned two reports which analyzed the farm’s energy use. The reports identified 3 main areas of emissions where he could take action:

  • chemical fertilisers 
  • transport
  • energy use

Using cover crops and natural fertilisers instead of chemicals 

To reduce the farm’s reliance on chemical fertilisers, Gareth used nutrient-rich cover crops  such as clover between rotations. Chicken droppings and other natural fertilisers were also introduced to replace harmful chemicals like ammonium nitrate. 

Benefits included:

  • reduced use of chemicals
  • healthier, nutrient-rich soil structure
  • higher quality, organic produce

Reducing journeys to cut transport emissions

To reduce the impact of transport, Gareth focused on optimising delivery routes and lowering the number of unnecessary journeys made each year. He encouraged his drivers to take fuel efficiency training courses and replaced inefficient vehicles with low emissions models.

He also built a well-insulated storage facility for potatoes. This meant they wouldn’t need to be transported to an off-site storage facility. Money was saved on:

  • fuel and transport costs
  • energy 
  • storage costs  

Maximising energy savings through solar technology 

Gareth installed an 80 kW array of solar PV panels and solar water heating technology to further reduce energy use. Benefits included:

Creating a renewable energy company

The positive experience of installing renewables on his farm led Gareth to set up Caplor Energy, an award-winning MCS-certified installer specializing in wind turbines, heat systems and solar arrays. Caplor Energy has become one of the leading renewable and low carbon energy specialists in the West Midlands.

Owner Gareth Williams: “Farmers have lots of opportunities to switch to renewable energy, many have already done so. I think it’s really important to showcase how it is done to as many people as possible – that’s what we try to do at Caplor.”

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