Farmers and farm consultants in Cornwall keen to get ahead in the renewable energy boom have until 16 November to sign up for a subsidised trip to Austria, to learn how farms there turn everyday waste into green energy.

The tour, organised by Cornwall Enterprise and the Cornwall Agricultural Council, will give Cornish farmers the chance to see firsthand how small European farms turn grass cuttings, manure and even food leftovers into energy that can power not only the farm but also local village facilities; cutting-edge techniques which may increasingly be replicated within the county.

Just a few places remain for the trip, with a 41% cost subsidy from the Learning & Skills Council Devon & Cornwall. It is part of an ongoing Renewable Energy Study Programme (RESP), which was founded in response to the "Cornwall Farming and Sustainable Energy" conference at the Eden Project in October 2006.

As recently as July, a group of 22 farmers and agency workers travelled to Stuttgart, Germany, to see renewable energy in action at German farms, biogas plants and even an environmentally friendly village, powered by its own waste.

One farm, near the town of Kupferzell, set up a biogas plant after a new law banned human food waste being given to pigs. The plant's anaerobic digester now swallows waste from local homes, schools and restaurants, turning it into biogas energy and producing fertiliser for surrounding farmers.

Nicky Garge of Cornwall Enterprise said: "The Stuttgart trip was very practical. It gave our farmers a chance to see what similar-sized farms are doing in Europe, ask questions and bring home those ideas that will work best on their own farms."

Martin Stanbury of Benacott farm, near Launceston, went on the Stuttgart trip and is enthusiastic about generating biogas on his dairy farm.

He says: "The trip was very thorough. It increased my knowledge and understanding of biogas as a process, including installation and economics."

As well as visits to farms sites, the programme for the Austria visit will take in the World Sustainable Energy Days (WSED) Conference in Wels.

The largest event of its kind in Europe, WSED showcases the cutting edge of green energy, giving the Cornish delegates a chance to attend seminars on the latest developments in the sector and meet counterparts from throughout the continent.

John Berry, Managing Director of Cornwall Enterprise, said: "The communities and systems covered in this study tour really take the maxim think globally, act locally' to a new level. We believe this programme can have important knock-on effects for both the Cornish economy and the environment as a whole."

Farmers who would like to find out more about renewable energy generation should contact Nicky Garge of Cornwall Enterprise on 01209 616094 or