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William Cractoft-Eley

William Cracroft-Eley

Miscanthus grower and Terravesta Chairman

The Story So Far

William's decision to plant Miscanthus came at a bad time for arable farmers, when wheat prices had fallen to just £65/tonne. He knew that it was time to look for a reliable, profitable and long-term arable solution - and that the increasing market for UK-grown energy crops was the place to look.

After planting in 2006, there ensued a few turbulent years for the Miscanthus market, and William made it his mission to bring order and transparency to supply. He brought growers together by establishing Miscanthus Growers Ltd in 2009, and went on to found Terravesta to develop a secure and strong market for Miscanthus as the UK's no.1 energy crop - grown locally and burnt locally.

Why Miscanthus?

As well as boasting low overheads and minimal inputs, Miscanthus can be grown on poorer quality land whilst still delivering high annual yields for 20 or more years. By planting Miscanthus on Hackthorn's marginal land,William has actually enhanced production across the rest of the farm. Dedicating 10% of his land to Miscanthus in 2006 has seen a reduction of just 2% in overall cereals yield.

As a truly homegrown biomass fuel resource, Miscanthus also offers William a level of security that almost no other crop can. The demand for UK biomass continues to outstrip production, and in contrast to the decades it takes for newly planted forestry to deliver results, Miscanthus produces commercial yields in just three years.

Working with Terravesta

As a Miscanthus grower,William has a 10-year RPIX-linked contract with Terravesta. As a result, he has a market for all the crop he can grow, and he can rely on secure, long-term returns. Through the company's unique Grower Fuel Loop scheme, he is also able buy back pellets as heat (from up to 50% of his planted area) and use these to provide renewable, cost-effective biomass fuel for his farm.

The future

At Hackthorn, William's Miscanthus continues to deliver a reliable yield year on year. He is also installing three Miscanthus-burning biomass systems to efficiently meet his heating and hot water needs at the farm and its neighbouring properties.

Beyond the farm gate, he is actively working with other growers and with Terravesta's key partners to build quality assurance, sustainability and growth into the Miscanthus supply chain. His work has helped propel the crop out of crankdom to become the market leader, with critical mass and sound commercial models for both grower and end user - and he continues to champion Miscanthus as the energy crop of the future.

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Farm Facts

Location

Hackthorn, Lincolnshire

Farm Type

83% arable

Farm Size

830 ha

Miscanthus Planted Areas

52 ha

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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