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Chris Bradley

Chris Bradley

East Yorkshire arable farmer

The Story So Far

"I opted to plant Miscanthus back in 2006 due to the diverse mix of soil types on my farm. I was struggling to achieve strong arable yields on our lighter land, which was drought-prone with blow away sand. Combinable crops simply weren't flourishing, and at a time when wheat prices were particularly poor, I had to make a decision that would make business sense for the farm. I started with 24ha of Miscanthus, and with continued successful yields over the years, this has since expanded to a full 40ha - making up 50% of the whole farm."

Why Miscanthus?

" Miscanthus was an excellent solution for our difficult light land, because regardless of wet or dry weather, it continues to thrive where other crops would fail. It also provides a level of financial stability that you simply can't bank on with the volatile prices of arable crops. Even the cost ups and downs of sprays and fertilisers are no longer an issue - as it requires such minimal inputs and maintenance."

Why Miscanthus?

"I used to contract out the whole farm but I've taken 40ha of arable back in hand and planted Miscanthus because it's so straightforward, plus its growing cycle doesn't conflict with my other crops. Having turned 60, opting to plant Miscanthus has been a definite lifestyle choice and it's given me more time for myself and my other interests - including my Westfield car, which I like to say is powered by the profits I make from my successful Miscanthus yields!"

Working with Terravesta

"I co-founded Miscanthus Growers Ltd (MGL) back in 2009 with Terravesta's now Chairman William Cracroft-Eley. MGL provided an active lobbying forum and trade association for growers up and down the country and Terravesta was born out of this - bringing a strong supply chain and expert support to UK growers. I'm thoroughly behind all the hard work that Terravesta does to grow the Miscanthus market and to encourage best practice amongst farmers, ensuring they achieve the very highest quality crop for best returns. I firmly believe (and it's certainly worked for me) that if you look after Miscanthus correctly, it will look after you!"

The future

"There's no doubt that Miscanthus has a strong future - both for farmers and as an important part of the UK's sustainable energy mix. It's an excellent option for growers with unprofitable marginal land as well as those looking for a secure future with index-linked returns. Living just 20 miles up the road from Miscanthus-burning power station Drax, I know that demand for pelleted Miscanthus as a biomass fuel is high - so the opportunity for farmers is huge. Thanks to Terravesta and its forward-thinking approach, new markets for the crop are emerging and establishment techniques are continuing to evolve to the benefit of growers."

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Farm Facts

Location

Brough, East Yorkshire

Farm Type

Arable / Miscanthus

Farm Size

100 hectares

Miscanthus Planted Areas

140 hectares

Year Planted

2006

Cutting Edge

At Terravesta, our growers are at the core of everything we do. Our team of experts is on hand to offer prospective and existing growers professional, bespoke advice to help them make the most of the Miscanthus opportunity.

Why Miscanthus?

10 Reasons to grow the ‘wonder crop’

1. Best ever price

Miscanthus prices have hit an all-time high, and Terravesta is now offering growers £74/tonne for 2015 contracts. What's more, through its new Barn Bonus scheme, growers whose Miscanthus bales have been stored in a barn and meet the required moisture specification of 16% or less will also be rewarded with up to £2/tonne extra. Don't miss out on the Miscanthus opportunity - sign up now!

2. Guaranteed returns

Boasting low overheads, stable pricing, guaranteed returns and reliable net margins for 20 years or more, Miscanthus offers a degree of financial certainty that almost no other crop can.

3. Reduced planting costs

Terravesta's new on-farm planting techniques and processes have brought down establishment costs significantly. Get in touch today to discuss your options.

4. Minimal maintenance

Once established, Miscanthus is a 'hands-off' crop requiring remarkably low input. It doesn't need fertiliser, chemicals or annual soil cultivation, so you can focus your attentions elsewhere - for enhanced overall production and improved profitability. For everything you need to know about growing Miscanthus, download our Essential Growers' Guide here

5. Maximise marginal land

All farms have less productive areas, but the nature of Miscanthus means it can be grown in poorer quality soil - turning your marginal land into profitable land!

6. Virtually weatherproof

As a moisture demander, Miscanthus flourishes in wet conditions as well as dry. What's more, the leaf mulch it produces suppresses weed growth, acting as a natural weapon against blackgrass

7. Annual growth

Miscanthus is a perennial crop with an annual growing cycle, delivering yearly profits at low inputs. It's also harvested in spring, so it doesn't conflict with other crops

8. Reliable biomass resource

With demand for UK biomass far outstripping its production, the opportunities for Miscanthus as an energy crop are endless. In contrast to the decades newly planted forestry can take to deliver results, Miscanthus produces commercial yields within just three years

9. Grow your own fuel

Any grower with a termed Terravesta contract can buy back Miscanthus pellets as heat on a separate energy supply contract - at a significantly discounted rate - through our Grower Fuel Loop (GFL) scheme. This means making a profit on selling bales, as well as considerable savings on fuel (particularly attractive for on-farm heat requirements)

10. Government backing

As well as pledging to treble investment in clean power generation, the government is actively supporting sustainable heating through schemes like the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Demand for biomass is set to increase dramatically as a result, bringing with it an opportunity for Miscanthus growers to reap the rewards now and well into the future

A helping hand

If you have a question about any aspect of Miscanthus growing, get in touch today, or click here to read the Essential Growers' Guide - our ultimate handbook to all things Miscanthus.

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