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Meet the contractor: Tim Russon, Lincolnshire

Tim Russon, based near Lincoln, works with around 60 Miscanthus growers from Yorkshire to Suffolk, harvesting up to 1,700ha per season, which typically runs from January until the end of April.

Miscanthus is cut with a forage harvester and baled in the spring months when business is traditionally quieter for most agricultural contractors, and Tim has been harvesting the crop since around 2002.

“We harvest the Miscanthus crops for Terravesta, and whole Hesston bales go directly to Brigg and Snetterton renewable energy power stations to supply electricity to local homes,” says Tim.

“We have four Claas Jaguar 970 forage harvesters, and two of these are used specifically on Miscanthus,” he says.

Tim started the contracting business in 1989 and he has since won the prestigious ‘Contractor of the Year’ trophy at the British Farming Awards in 2023. “I’m a dairy farmer’s son, and I knew from early on that I wanted to go out and be an agri contractor. I borrowed my father’s tractor and tools and haven’t looked back since.

“Contracting has been part of the farm business for a long time, and it’s grown from nothing. When my father sadly passed away in 2009, the contracting business had evolved so much that we solely concentrated on this,” he says.

Tim believes there are many benefits to Miscanthus. “I think Miscanthus is a good opportunity for farmers to take less productive land out of cereal production and get more income from it, this in turn increases the average yield across the farm and reduces input costs, because you’re farming the more productive land.

“In a wet year like this one, it can be challenging to get onto the land to cut and bale it, but that’s no different to any other crop, and it seems to thrive in these conditions.”

Terravesta works with over 40 contractors covering the length of the UK, who are experts in harvesting Miscanthus, which is generally a contractor job.

Tim’s top tips for a smooth Miscanthus harvest:

  1. Providing a map to guide us is always helpful, especially if new areas are to be harvested;
  2. Please ensure good access to crops and clearly mark gateways on the map;
  3. Please ensure the Miscanthus crop is clear of obstacles especially any of last year’s broken bales, tree roots etc, and if these are present, mark them on the map;
  4. Mark any suspected wet areas on the map;
  5. Mark any overhead power lines, especially if low on the map.

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