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Standing room only in miscanthus seminar at the NEC

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  • 3 min read

The Farm Business innovation Show at the NEC in Birmingham is an event that’s targeted at farmers wanting to diversify.

A vital audience for Terravesta, many came to the show specifically to find out more about the benefits associated with growing miscanthus.

“We took over 100 leads and spoke to a huge amount of farmers and landowners who were positive about the crop. We had several large estate managers enquiring about miscanthus and one farmer interested in making a miscanthus maze for visitors to the farm,” says Terravesta operations manager, Alex Robinson.

“Overall it was very positive and interest in miscanthus seems to be increasing all the time, as Terravesta works at expanding markets for it,” says Alex.

Grown for UK power generation, the crop guarantees returns on long-term contracts and promises a move away from the price volatility associated with traditional agricultural markets.

Terravesta chairman, William Cracroft-Eley, spoke in the seminar theatre, on ‘maximising marginal land with miscanthus’. “With standing room only – the presentations were well received, and William tackled some technical questions from producers, wanting to find out the specifics of harvesting in the spring months, where William reassured them that we have contractors all over the UK who are well versed in harvesting the crop,” says Alex.

William displayed aerial maps of farms profiting from miscanthus on all types of land. He also tackled the question of ‘marginal land’ and what it is.

“At Terravesta, we’re aware that marginal land is not a characteristic that can be mapped, in the way that policy makers want. It’s land where the operational consequence of a number of factors make the management of it uneconomical, when growing arable or any other type of crop. In other words is could be any type of land that’s difficult to manage, or harvest, or where arable crops aren’t yielding well, for instance,” explains Alex.

“Miscanthus is a crop that takes care of itself,” says Alex. “It’s a low input, high output option, and once established, no fertiliser is required, as the rhizome recycles nitrogen back into the soil.”

The perennial energy crop can grow to heights of up to 12 feet and can produce yields of 15 tonnes per hectare, with average net returns considerably greater than arable crops, at up to £528 per hectare.

“The crop thrives on poor grade land, and can completely combat blackgrass due to its high canopy. Miscanthus also fits in well with the arable rotation as its cut in the spring, so won’t conflict with the cereal harvest.”

Terravesta works with growers to facilitate planting, provide free agronomic support, secure lucrative markets and offers long term index-price-linked contracts.

The company is looking for more growers to help to meet the increased demand from whole bale power stations. “We’re offering growers 10-year retail price index-linked contracts, with guaranteed returns. We will be following up on leads at the Farm Business Innovation Show and encourage any farmers with questions to get in touch or book onto our next farm walk on the 8thDecember,” adds Alex.