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Microsoft word - cultivation manual for energetic willow.doc
A noble variant of the well – known “Osier willow”, the Energetic Willow – also
known under the name of Fast growing willow, is cultivated for the purpose of
obtaining power resources. Given the interest, one has created varieties adapted to the
various conditions of environment and working.
At the same time with the humanity’s preoccupation with finding new,
unconventional power sources, the researches were directed towards different
versions of unconventional power sources, towards agricultural crops, from which
annual productions are obtained, which could represent a secure power source.
The fields where tests have been made and remarkable results have been obtained are
various, beginning with solar energy, wind energy, heat pumps, biomass.
In the agricultural field, various plants have made it on the list of the ones generically
called “energo” such as: osier willow, power grass and various wooden species such
as the acacia, the poplar tree and the willow.
The most spectacular results have been obtained in the field of the willow. While the
rest of forest plants need 3-5 years until they can be harvested and used for energy
purposes, the willow can be harvested annually, having a wooden mass volume of 40-
The varieties cultivated for this purpose and registered have the following main
- a very large increase in volume – 3-3.5 cm of growth/day
- are resistant to bad weather and various illnesses
- have a high caloric power approx. 4900 kcal/kg
Willows are dicotyledonous, dioeciously wooden species, with blossoming before
foliage, with entoneophile pollination. Among the over 200 varieties (species) of
willow, the Swedish have selected and cultivated six varieties which have a very high
growth (3 – 3.5 cm/day), a high content of salicylic acid which give them a series of
very advantageous properties such as high caloric power (higher than the beech or the
oak tree), resistance to bad weather, resistance to degradation during storage under the
form of mince (raw matter for pelletization, for briquetting).
The biology of the selected species
The most important characteristic for which it has gained land in its cultivation during
the last years (in Sweden over 50,000 ha, in Hungary over 2,000 ha, Poland, the Baltic
countries, etc.) is that of rapid growth both in the length of the stems as well as in
volume; in addition to this advantage we can also enumerate a series of other
advantages, reason for which during the last 3-4 years it has come to the attention of
several agricultural specialists from various countries, it has also been nominated in a
top position in UE, where the decision has been made for it to be grant aided as a
- It can be cultivated (it is even recommended) on lands with permanent
or periodical swamp formation. It has a capacity of evapo –
perspiration of 15-20 liters of water/day/m2. This advantage gives it an
uncontested place as a plant which renders usable thousands of ha of
lands which are in desolation. This fact was noticed by countries such
as Sweden – where for 28 years the energetic willow has already been
cultivated on surfaces of over 50,000 ha, finding a very economic use
for lands which had been unusable so far, and also cultivating an
unconventional energy source, very profitable from the economic point
- It has a capacity of annually taking over 20 – 30 tons/ha of mud –
originating from the processing of used waters. This property, besides
the advantage that in an area where the plantation can be flooded with
residues from water processing plants, it grows faster, it also has the
big advantage that residual waters do not need to be biologically
depurated (costly operation), and on the other hand, the waters
resulting from water processing plants – arrive very clean in rivers,
avoiding the pollution of the waters and also the additional costs due to
penalty payments for the inadequate quality of discharged waters.
- The cultivation of the willow creates new jobs, for persons with an
inferior qualification. Harvesting is performed during the vegetal
break, after the falling of the leaves (they serve as fertilizer), that is
during the months November – March, a period when the agricultural
equipments are not used for something else.
- It can be a safe alternative of power sources (heating) for localities,
being used as biomass (mince) briquettes or pellets. There are units
with equipment for pelletization – briquetting of various capacities
which transform the willow mince in briquettes or pellets, and these
products are used for the heating of localities (at least of schools,
kindergartens, dispensaries, etc.) of communes.
Edaphic – climatic conditions
Energetic willows are very resistant to various climatic conditions.
They first spread in Europe in Sweden and the Baltic Countries, in climatic conditions
During the last three years it has been cultivated on larger and larger surfaces
(thousands of ha) in Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, in climatic conditions very different
The results after three years of experience in Hungary show that the willow also
behaved very well on sandy soil and in much more elevated temperatures; one has
obtained a crop 45% bigger (approx. 60 tons/ha in Hungary, compared to 40 – 45
The abovementioned facts lead us to the conclusion that on the territory of Romania
there are all the proper conditions for its cultivation (in river beds, floodable unused
From the edaphically point of view, the optimal conditions are provided by
underground water supply or by abundant precipitations, on alluvial soils with pH 5.5
– 6.5, but it also resists on waste with pH 3.5 – 10.0, but with a lower biomass
In principle, this species has been experimented in order to serve as power source
under a different form of fuel (mince – for heating power stations, briquettes, pellets).
The high caloric power (4900 kcal/ha) renders it comparable to other fuel sources
By cultivating the willow on larger surfaces (1000 – 1500 ha per area), one justifies
the making of investments such as pelletization factories – which will provide the
power source for localities, both in area heating power plants and in private homes.
Making a concise calculation – in the hypothesis that in Romania one would make
plantations on 20,000 ha (in Sweden there are over 50,000 ha, Hungary – in the power
program sent to EU for the period 2007 – 2013 – foresees the extension of the power
willow plantations to 36,000 ha), one would obtain 1,000,000 tons of pellets, which
means a thermal energy source of approx. 4,900,00 Gcal of energy – produced on
surfaces which are not cultivated in the present – and this source annually repeats.
The thermal energy which can be obtained from this source provides the heating of
145,000 conventional apartments annually.
By extending the energetic willow plantations, besides the fact that it represents a
renewable power source, it makes use of unused lands, it helps avoid (or considerably
reduces) tree cutting generated by the increasing need for cheap fuel.
Besides the use for power purposes, the power willow is also successfully used in the
- for fixating abrupt slopes and preventing landslide
In the case of extension of the plantations, one can resort to mechanizations, both for
There is a range of special machinery in the Northern countries which can be
successfully adapted to the existing agricultural equipment.
Which are the problems standing in the way of extending these plantations?
a) the lack of information on the existence and the advantages of these varieties
b) the lack of regulations in the field of making plantations, regarding:
1. The clarification of the field where it is included – agricultural
2. Whose regulations is it subjected to – that of agricultural plants or
4. Establishing the grant aid conditions
5. Inclusion in various national programs of cultivating and
1. The power willow is a plant with existence duration spring – fall, so
during an agricultural year. The plantation is made by planting the
slips, made in certified nursery gardens, observing all the regulations
regarding certified varieties. There is the possibility that the crop is to
be made every two years, but the experience of the advanced states in
this field shows that the most advantageous is the annual cropping
(months November – February; March, according to area). Because of
this fact (annual cropping) there have been in situations in which it was
classified in the category of agricultural plants – with medical and
annual subventions, similar to the agricultural production. During the
last period at UE level it was made the decision that the energy plants
be funded in a distinct manner, and it was left at the full discretion of
each member country, to decide on the classification manner.
2. In all the countries where the energetic willow plantations have a
significant scope – they have been classified in the “special” category
of wooden species, submitting to the forestry regulations, as plantation,
but special regarding its cropping (does not require approvals for
3. The subvention manner has been established initially at 200 Euro /
ha (in Sweden, Hungary) in each cropping year.
A plantation has a life of 25-30 years in which in the first year of life
the production is insignificant, of about 40-45 to/ha (according to
Swedish evidences and 50-60 to/ha in Hungary).
This crop provides a considerable revenue to the cultivators (approx.
1400 euro/ha) and without the annual subvention, but the development
of the cultures has been slow, because of the significant costs of
In the year 2006 – most of states moved to subvention with 50% of
plantation costs, renouncing to the annual subvention.
After this measure, in Hungary, in this fall – the requests for slips and
registration of lands for plantation has increased with more than 50%,
and in Sweden is considered to be the most viable solution for
accomplishing the UE provisions, that each member country covers
12% of the energy consumption from unconventional sources.
4. Subvention conditions are clearly specified for the UE countries and
a. the manufacturers must make proof of ownership of the
agricultural land or of a long term lease.
b. the manufacturers must make proof that they have used slips
of registered varieties and from certified nursery gardens
c. the manufacturers must make proof of an acquisition contract
with a user – who produces energy directly from biomass, or
manufactures products that are used for this purpose
d. the contractor (purchaser) must make proof that he has the
means by which to transform the biomass in energy (area
heating power station, heating power station) or in products that
serve to this purpose (briquetting lines or pellettizing lines)
e. the purchaser pays a security per ha of plantation for which
he made a purchase contract (the total varies between countries,
values contained between 15-40 Euro/ha) security that he can
recuperate at the moment of recuperating the contracted crop.
By these five measures are guaranteed that the petitioner
(manufacturer) has the land for which he requests subvention, that he has used
slips of registered varieties, that the manufacturer has sale meant for the
purpose of energy production and in the end is guaranteed that the purchaser
has the technical ability to transform the biomass in an energy source but also
the fact that the contracted quantities takes it over ( for release of security).
The intention of the authors of this material is to notice the opportunity
represents the expansion of power willow to develop an unconventional source.
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