A Powys farmer has been given a special award for innovation for creating a new form of charcoal.

Tony Davies from Rhayader won the Farming Connect Farm Innovator Award at this year’s Lantra awards for his use of Molina grass in creating a Biochar – a form of charcoal.

Tony is a fifth-generation organic tenant farmer in the Elan Valley and has a long-standing passion for farming sustainably and reducing carbon emissions at his ‘off grid’ agriculture business.

He said that he first discovered Biochar when looking for a sustainable method of using Molinia grass.

The grass can be a problem for the local environment by not only “impacting on species diversity and habitat" but also "decreasing the agricultural productivity of land.”


“Through Farming Connect I’ve actually done quite a lot of work on biochar as well and I’ve been involved in a European innovative project,” said Tony. “I’ve travelled to a conference in Ireland and another one in Finland just looking at meeting world experts in biochar.”

Tony was also involved with a Farming Connect European Innovation Project (EIP Wales) where they trialled using compost and wool added to Biochar. 

As a result of his work Tony has gone on to create new employment opportunities for collecting grass and branches for processing into Biochar.

Tony also manages sales from a website, manufactures kilns locally with products selling to councils, estates, gardeners and farmers throughout the UK. 

The judges were impressed with Tony’s “commitment to innovative”, “sustainable farming” which they said “makes him an outstanding and well-deserved winner of this year’s Farm Innovator Award”.