The Story So Far
I first trialled Miscanthus in one of my problem fields in 2010. Originally planted with wheat, the land there was extremely clay-heavy and ridden with blackgrass - which was so bad, it had even built up a resistance to herbicides. All this meant that my wheat crop was producing very low yields, so I decided to see how Miscanthus would fare. The crop is still flourishing and I now no longer have to spend money on controlling the blackgrass, as Miscanthus acts as a natural remedy.
"In fact, my experience was so positive that I decided to
plant Miscanthus in two more of my fields in 2011. Like
the first field, one of these had heavy land and blackgrass,
so the switch to Miscanthus was an obvious one.
The other had very light land, with insufficient depth
for growing potatoes. It was also drought-prone, with
considerable (sometimes plough-breaking) bedrock,
making it very difficult to cultivate. The Miscanthus
here has grown particularly well.Within a year, it was
5.5 feet high and about as close to full establishment as
you could get. By year two, it had soared to almost nine
feet and I was reaping average yields of seven tonnes per
hectare. Better still, it doesn't need ploughing - which is
a relief, as I'd much rather be farming for my own profit
than that of the shear bolt manufacturer!"
"As an arable farmer, I also grow several other crops on my land, including
wheat, sugar beet, opium poppies, spring barley, permanent pasture and
potatoes. Faced with low wheat prices and a worsening blackgrass
situation on some of my land, Miscanthus held the key to my problems.
I'm very pleased I made the decision to plant. Most of my farm is
contracted out, so I'm now making significant savings on establishment
costs. Planting processes have come on a long way, too, with rhizomes
larger and moister than they used to be - meaning they can withstand
today's unpredictable weather conditions much better."
Working with Terravesta
"Even before I began working with Terravesta, I already knew its chairman,
William Cracroft-Eley, from the local farming scene. As a new and
relatively unknown crop, Miscanthus had its fair share of teething
troubles in the early days - but Terravesta and Miscanthus Growers Ltd
(a non-profit organisation that William also founded), have changed all
that. The Terravesta team does extremely well at giving growers the
reassurance they need, both by sharing significant expertise and by
providing secure, long-term RPIX-linked growing contracts - backed up
by their unparalleled relationships with major end users such as Drax
Power. What's more, when it comes to rhizome planting, the processes
and technology available to Miscanthus growers just keep getting better - and better planting techniques mean better results year after year."
"For me, planting Miscanthus was definitely the right decision. The amount
I've planted is just right for my farm, so I don't have plans for any more,
but I will certainly keep working with Terravesta to make the most of
what I have for the foreseeable future. Miscanthus is a remarkable crop,
and is opening up markets that really matter. I'm keen to work alongside
Terravesta to help promote it, and its various different uses, to other
farmers who could benefit. Thanks to the security and guaranteed returns
offered by Terravesta's long-term contracts, Miscanthus has become a
truly viable option for farmers looking for a profitable, less volatile
alternative to wheat and a solution for difficult land."