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Terravesta celebrates a decade in business with a birthday party at Groundswell

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  • 3 min read

Terravesta celebrated its first decade in business by hosting a birthday party at Groundswell Show.

The firm welcomed growers and friends of the business to join them in raising a glass and enjoying some forage harvester cake, with a few words from chairman, William Cracroft-Eley.

William gave a short presentation to toast the occasion and said: “In our 10th harvest year it’s apt to celebrate it at Groundswell. We’ve moved heaven and earth to turn something unknown into something user-friendly and thanks to our amazing team and network we have covered a huge amount of ground.

“It’s the people who are so important in this journey,” said William.

Alex Robinson, chief operating officer at Terravesta, who has been with the firm since its inception, helped to establish its prime market position over the past 10 years.

“10 years ago, Miscanthus was an ‘alternative crop’ with an uncertain future. Today, demand is outstripping supply, and over 300 UK farmers are reaping the benefits of long-term, fixed price, index-linked contracts to grow and sell it,” he said.

“It’s helping to alleviate some of the key issues facing farming, including soil degradation, rising emissions, biodiversity loss and more recently, the rising cost of fertiliser – as it has no requirement for nitrogen.

“This spring we have seen a record tonnage of harvested bales, the market is expanding, and we’re seeking out more farmers to meet growing demand,” said Alex.

The journey

Alex said: “We’re lucky to have such a dedicated grower base and thanks to our R&D work and partnerships, we have become world-leading experts in the crop.

“The really exciting chapter started in 2012, when we were contacted by IBERS at Aberystwyth, looking for a commercial partner to help progress their Miscanthus breeding programme.

“Since then, the business has evolved and now the future for Miscanthus is more exciting than ever.

“However, we really need policy makers to show some commitment to perennial energy crops. Wind and solar are fantastic but we need the biomass base load on the grid to support the other renewable technologies, when they’re not as productive, or when the extra demand is needed quickly,” said Alex.

Founding partner

William Cracroft-Eley co-founded Terravesta in 2012. William had already planted the crop in 2006 and due to a lack of markets, he saw the opportunity to build a new supply chain and ensure continuity of supply for the pioneering Miscanthus growers.

Alex said: “Since we were co-founded in 2012, Miscanthus and perennial energy crops have come a long way and are now at the forefront of the global bio-economy, with an exciting future ahead.

Terravesta works with world-leading plant breeders to develop Miscanthus hybrids, using modern breeding methods to find the best combinations to suit specific growing environments and end-uses of the biomass. Terravesta Performance Hybrids produce superior yields and deliver a quicker return to the grower compared with Miscanthus giganteus.

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.

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