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Fantastic feedback from GIANT Link farm walk

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  • 3 min read

Farmers and scientists met at Hackthorn, Lincoln at the end of June to find out more about our ground-breaking seed breeding project that could see the costs of miscanthus production reduced and make it an even more economically viable crop for renewable energy production.

Terravesta hosted the trials visit with the NFU and welcomed over 50 guests including farmers, scientists, plant breeders and agricultural journalists, who were keen to see the trial plots and find out more about the project.

Following the trial plot tours and presentations from plant scientists and other project contributors, the group went in convoy to see a mature miscanthus crop near Brigg and the day finished with a visit to the new biomass-fuelled power plant at Brigg.

The visit marked the finale of the six year ‘Giant Link’ project, a £6 million DEFRA, DECC and BBSRC miscanthus project which has successfully delivered new commercially acceptable varieties and raised awareness among the farming community of the opportunities on offer from growing this crop.

This work will now lead to the commercial development of seed based varieties of miscanthus, and the project is now embarking on its second phase – meaning the best three seed hybrids will be up-scaled and planted out on test plot sites throughout the UK. We’re excited by the prospect that miscanthus grown from plugs could be available to farmers as soon as 2019 and seeds for direct drilling, a few years after this.

“The new seed varieties have a number of enhanced traits that will mean better returns for the farmer. They’re cheaper to plant; the crop has better yields, and has been bred to generate higher quality biomass. The aim is that new varieties can be harvested economically in their second year, when currently rhizome planted crops are harvested in the third year after establishment,” says William Cracroft-Eley, Terravesta chairman.

During the power plant visit, representatives highlighted why they believe energy crops are important to the Brigg Renewable Energy Plant as an auxiliary fuel to wheat straw, offering both an extension of the growing season and in helping to mitigate the risk of reliance on a single source of fuel.

The visit also provided a great opportunity for the energy plant owners to talk to interested farmers about handling miscanthus and to explain how bale specifications must be met to ensure their processes work properly.

To hear more about the groundbreaking seed breeding trials project so far, click here