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Miscanthus benefits farmers as nitrogen prices surge

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  • 3 min read

With nitrogen prices rocketing, farmers are looking at ways to decrease reliance on fertiliser and improve efficiencies. Miscanthus is a perennial crop that requires no fertiliser applications, because it recycles its own nutrients every year in the rhizome and it presents a sustainable, stable option in a volatile market.

“The annual fertiliser demands of Miscanthus are next to nothing because the rhizome recycles its own nutrients in the latter part of the growing season. It’s self-sustaining,” explains Russell Fraser, Terravesta operations manager.

“There’s an inflation spike at the moment, commodity prices are high. Diesel, energy, and inputs are on the rise, and many farmers are having to increase wages to keep staff. Miscanthus is unaffected by these costs,” he says.

Farmers looking for a stable and sustainable gross margin for the farm are considering Miscanthus as a reliable buffer. “It’s also nearly inflation-free, as, after the two-year establishment period, there are no other costs after harvest, baling and transport. The price is index-linked which takes into account increased contractor costs, and now there is the carbon element too, where farmers can trade carbon stored each year, which amounts to 2.35tCO2e sequestered per hectare, per year, as well as natural capital benefits for soil, air, and water,” says Russell.

Russell explains that it can be used to make fields more efficient – squaring off triangles and corners and straightening out wriggly headlands by rivers. The sat nav can then be programmed to make more efficient spray applications.

“What we potentially have is a ‘perfect storm’. Commodity prices are high, input prices are high, but the wheat market is a global market and the perfect storm will happen if the southern hemisphere, mainly South America, has a favourable spring. Wheat and corn estimates will go up. The world commodity price will come down significantly. This could create a real turn.

“What Miscanthus offers is a sustainable buffer,” he says.

“I think if you’re getting less than 7t/ha of wheat on a traditional, conventional system, Miscanthus can out-perform these returns,” adds Russell.

And farmers considering planting the carbon negative crop Miscanthus can now benefit from a finance package to cover virtually all upfront costs for crop establishment, as well as new direct, long-term offtake agreements with end-users, with 10–15-year index-linked annual returns.

Oxbury Bank is working in partnership with Miscanthus specialist, Terravesta, to deliver the new finance package, which is supporting farmers to plant and establish the crop.

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