"As roundwood prices go up it should become more viable," he pointed out. "A lot of farmers in this area have gone onto biomass to heat their chicken houses. On that basis we got someone in to chip all our prunings and after two days we had 48 tonnes. We thought we had ten times that."
He added: "There are massive challenges to getting it right but there might be a future in it. It has to be better than burning as waste. If it can be done cost-neutrally, we will be interested in it."
But Rob Collins, director of orchard services contractor RE Collins HS, said: "The problem is too high a proportion of the prunings is bark, which just turns to ash. It's only heartwood that gives you any heat." He suggested that deriving heat from composting the prunings would be more viable.