Mark Wiseman

Arable manager

Seeking out alternative solutions

"When the battle against blackgrass has been lost, and yields of wheat gets increasingly less competitive, finding an alternative can be tricky.

"Thankfully, after having a good look around, we bumped into miscanthus at the Cereals event and decided to give it a go, planting it for the first time in 2012.

"The 26 hectares we're growing on our 607ha mixed farm near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, was always a challenge, as it takes time for the heavy clay to warm up, and the land is prone to flooding, but miscanthus seems to be doing well, filling out nicely, and improving year on year. The moisture content came in at a perfect 10 per cent and the first year's harvest reaped 95 bales at 600kg apiece."

Blocking out the light meant the blackgrass disappeared

"Already as the miscanthus is growing, it's dealing with the blackgrass problem because the canopy literally swamps it, and blocks out the light. It really looks as though it's disappeared – something we're really delighted about."

Working with Terravesta

"Our part in the six-year contract with Terravesta is to prepare a well-established seed bed using a deep plough to create a good fine 4ins tilth. We use a power harrow so that we can maximise the rhizome contact, and use a bit of herbicide in the early stages to keep persistent weeds out, and Roundup to tidy the area before the shoots appear.

"Our only problem has been the hares who love the young shoots so electric fencing has been used in parts but it really is only an issue in the early two to three years before the miscanthus takes hold."

Miscanthus just keeps on growing

"The beauty with the crop once it's established is that it'll keep producing year-on- year, with year six being the optimum year. In other words, once the rhizomes are in place, it's just a case of letting it get on with itself over the next 20 years.

"We're looking forward to the next harvest in Spring 2016 when we plan to use a forager with the belly plate off so that the crop falls to the floor where it dries out before being baled up."

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Farm Facts


Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Farm Type

Mixed arable/livestock

Farm Size

607 ha

Miscanthus Planted Areas


Year Planted


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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