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Jim Beeden

Jim Beeden

Lincolnshire farms manager

The Story So Far

Flagleaf Farming's three founders made the initial decision to plant Miscanthus on some of their poorest land more than seven years ago, when falling wheat prices and poor yields from difficult-to-farm areas left the business looking for a viable and more secure alternative to combinable commodity crops. We'd tried various other arable options on some of our worst-performing areas, and found we were dedicating a lot of time, effort and money to high-risk land, with consistently disappointing results. As Miscanthus flourishes in both heavy wet soils and free-draining soils, as well as areas with a rock base (which causes rooting and drainage problems), it provided the ideal solution.

Why Miscanthus?

As a joint venture contracting business, we don't receive the Single Farm Payment or other grants, so every crop has to be worth the risk and make absolute financial sense for us to turn a profit. Unlike other crops we have tried, Miscanthus lets us generate secure returns from problem land, doesn't conflict with other crops and fits well into our routine. It also frees up time and manpower that we invest in improving productivity elsewhere.

Why Miscanthus?

Because it is a hands-off, low-maintenance crop, we have been able to plant it on any areas that are harder to access regularly - including a field that the local RAF uses for its landing lights! Planting the crop on our most marginal land ultimately means that we've been able to focus valuable time and resource elsewhere - which has, in turn, improved overall yields and allowed us to take on more outside work.

Working with Terravesta

After some initial challenges with establishment in the early days, developments in planting techniques and support from the Miscanthus experts at Terravesta means our Miscanthus is now delivering impressive annual profits for Flagleaf. Because we have a long-term contract with Terravesta, we also have a guaranteed market for all of the in-spec Miscanthus we can produce, which gives us great peace of mind. Knowing the prices are index-linked offers an even greater level of security.

The future

At Flagleaf, we are extremely positive about the future for Miscanthus. Having planted just 6% of our contracted area with the crop, we have been consistently impressed with the results, and are planning to plant more in the near future. Even with its typical three-year establishment period, we know we are better off planting Miscanthus than trying to get similar returns from other, high-input, high-risk crops - and the long-term financial security it provides is virtually unrivalled.

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Farm Facts

Location

Lincolnshire (various)

Farm Type

Farm contracting business

Farm Size

3,000 acres

Miscanthus Planted Areas

175 acres

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.

Grower Information

Cutting specification Useful contacts Guidelines for contractors
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