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Miscanthus Farm Walks – a roaring success!

  • Blog
  • 3 min read

Having booked everything in preparation for our Miscanthus farm walks the only thing that was left to chance was the weather, but we needn’t have worried, we caught the last few days of summer and were blessed with three warm, dry days in Lincolnshire. However we were reminded that autumn was on its way in Northamptonshire.

The six events took place at Hackthorn, William Cracroft-Eley estate and Guilsborough by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Hicks and in association with a number of partners Woldmarsh Growers, Barclays and MHA (MacIntyer Hudson Accountants). We saw over 80 farmers whose interest in Miscanthus ranged from firm sceptic to potential grower and existing grower wishing to expand their Miscanthus operation.

After an overview of the future of the Biomass Market in the UK and a brief outline of the what, where, whens and hows of Miscanthus from William Cracroft-Eley, Terravesta Chairman, we undertook a tour of three Miscanthus fields. The first was planted late May 2013 which was two months later than preferred and just before a long summer drought and heatwave, which delayed growth for the peak of the growing season. Despite this, the plant population is very good and although there will not be a viable harvest at the end of year two, there should be a good yield in year three.

Fields two and three were planted at the same time in March 2011 due to black grass infestations and soil type. This year field three has demonstrated the level of growth that can be achieved with Miscanthus when, during the first couple of years, attention has been paid to weed and pest control to allow the crop to become firmly established, combined with an almost perfect growing season. As a trial, a harvest was taken off this field after 12 months (harvest is not normally taken until 24 months old) and it yielded 1.5t/ha, subsequent harvests have produced 7t/ha and 13t/ha. Bets were taken on the day that this field could yield up to 17t/ha in 2015.

The following week in Northamptonshire we again saw well-established crops with the flowers beginning to emerge, which is a rare sight as this is something that is very dependent on the growing season and doesn’t always happen.

For anyone who missed these walks and would like to find out more, we are planning to run an informal farm walk on the 10th November at Hackthorn, Lincolnshire.