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Introducing our new plant breeding and seed production manager

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The demand for dedicated biomass and bioenergy crops is growing at a rapid rate. If net zero targets are to be met, we will need to increase the area of land devoted to bioenergy crops, and in order to upscale to this level of planting, we need rhizome and seed-based Miscanthus hybrids suited to different climates and markets.

Helping us to develop promising seed-based Terravesta Performance Hybrids is Antonella Iurato, who we welcome to the Terravesta team this October.

Antonella’s role is key to upscaling Miscanthus crops in the UK and around the world to meet increased demand.

Based at Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise campus, her main objective is to find exciting new seed-based Miscanthus hybrids to suit different climates and markets. She manages seed production and harvest which takes her to many locations, but mainly Catania on Sicily’s east coast.

“I’m working with the Terravesta team to deliver a ‘road map’ for the next five years in research and development and I’m planning the logistics of the seed harvest for the 2020 season,” explains Antonella.

“Seed harvest starts in November and at the moment it’s done by hand, which is hard work but is a part of the role I enjoy the most.

“We are charged with a big task, which will take time, but I’m confident we have a great team and will reach the end goal of developing and bringing promising new hybrids to commercial reality,” she adds.

Antonella is Sicilian, and in her spare time, enjoys cooking, running and cycling and socialising with friends.

She is a qualified agronomist and is also completing a PhD on ‘Investigating the biological potential of Miscanthus seed production in Southern Europe’, and as part of her PhD she was heavily involved with our Miscanthus UpScaling Technology (MUST) project with Aberystwyth University, which looked at upscaling Miscanthus seed production and producing commercially relevant best practice in growing and harvesting the crop.

In short, Antonella really knows her stuff and we are delighted to have her on board as we grow the Miscanthus bio-economy.