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Miscanthus growers wanted to meet renewable energy demand

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Strong growth in energy generation from biomass presents good opportunities for growing miscanthus on long-term contracts. That, coupled with increasing demand from whole bale power stations burning miscanthus, means more planting is needed.

Farmers interested in finding out about growing the crop should not miss the Terravesta Anglia Farmers Lincolnshire farm walk on October 5, at Glentworth Village Hall.

The walk is free of charge and guests on the day will have the chance to view a commercial miscanthus crop on an arable farm, speak to the grower, and hear from Terravesta and Anglia Farmers about long term contracts to supply UK power stations with miscanthus and wheat and barley straw.

Ed Green will lead the farm walk that will include a tour of his miscanthus fields, and is a chance to hear how he successfully profits from 20 hectares of miscanthus on his ‘problem’ marginal land.

Ed first planted the crop in 2009 when wheat was down at £85 per tonne and blackgrass resistance was rife on his lower grade land, so he was set to turn it over to fallow.

“The blackgrass problem was bad on the heavy clay soils and we were spending a lot of money on herbicides and were experiencing resistance. Ultimately our yields were hammered badly by the issue and miscanthus seemed like a solution,” says Ed Green.

“We planted 11 hectares of miscanthus in 2009, then a further three hectares in 2010, both on heavy clay land, and the following year planted six hectares on lighter land that’s very stony in the middle. Now we’re averaging 16 tonnes per hectare in these fields.”

Seven years on – there’s no blackgrass issue on these fields and Ed is making a comfortable profit from the energy crop. “The miscanthus has been competing well with cereal margins – even when wheat is fetching over £150 per tonne. It’s a reliable buffer when cereal prices plummet because we have a long term contract with supply chain specialist Terravesta.”

Terravesta is behind the growth of the miscanthus energy market in the UK and manages 260 growers and over 8,000 hectares of miscanthus to supply whole bale power stations.

“We’re looking to work with growers in Lincolnshire and surrounding counties to supply Brigg power station and offer 10-year retail price index-linked contracts, with guaranteed returns,” says Alex Robinson, operations manager at Terravesta.

Alex will be speaking at the farm walk alongside Mike Giffin from Anglia Farmers Biomass. Mike manages the supply of over 100,000 tonnes of wheat and barley straw annually to three power stations and will be giving an overview of the business on the day. Mike believes that the more options farmers have to supply the biomass market the better, and working closely with Terravesta is an exciting opportunity for the company and for farmers.

“Having worked in the biomass sector for a number of years, I can say that miscanthus is a viable option in light of continued uncertainty in grain market prices. With miscanthus, what growers have is a guaranteed return that can increase subject to yield so it’s taking some of the volatility out of cropping, and with agricultural subsidies becoming unclear in the current political climate – this buffer is becoming increasingly important for UK farmers,” says Mike.

The farm walk will take place on Wednesday October 5, at Glentworth Village hall, DN21 5DF 10:00 – 14:00. Lunch is provided and the day will include a tour of Ed Green’s miscanthus crop, and talks from Terravesta and Anglia Farmers Biomass. Book online at or contact Jacob Duce: 01522 785777.