Diversification key to sustainable farming
"I'm always open to considering alternative areas of growth for the farm business. On our 1,250
hectares of land, we farm miscanthus, arable crops and beef cattle, and we also run a successful local pub, called the White Horse.
"Diversification is an integral part of farming - especially with ongoing commodity price volatility.
And, when you've tried different cereal crops to combat establishment issues, it's reassuring to
know miscanthus is a profitable alternative that solves the problem."
Solution to dry land with blackgrass resistance issues
"We grow miscanthus on 'problem land' that was formerly in an arable crop rotation. Before
miscanthus, it had establishment limitations because of blackgrass resistance, plus it's prone to
"We've been successfully growing miscanthus on the land since planting 18 hectares of the crop in 2012."
Excellent establishment down to good preparation
"We listened to Terravesta's planting recommendations, and our miscanthus crop established well
because we put a lot of work into ensuring the fields were prepared for planting. We ploughed them
in the autumn, and waited for a warm dry spell the following spring, when we cultivated the soil well
to make a good seed bed.
"After establishment, the only thing that's required is a robust herbicide programme, and here
Terravesta's advice is invaluable. There is no sign of blackgrass, because the high canopy of the crop
Reaping the rewards of best practice
"Usually the crop is harvested three years after it's planted, but we harvested ours in year two,
during 2014. We harvested approximately 5.5 tonnes per hectare then, I believe this is down to good
preparation for a successful establishment. In 2015 the yield doubled to 11.5 tonnes per hectare."
"The crop is on contract to Terravesta, who pay approximately £74 a tonne. My margin last year was
around £618 per hectare, which I'm pleased with, considering ongoing market price instability. The
return is also index-linked, and because crop yields go up each year, this pay-back should increase."