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Miscanthus in autumn close up against bue sky

OMENZ – Research project

Terravesta is contributing to the UK’s net zero ambition.

OMENZ enables Terravesta to deliver a practical biomass up-scaling strategy to deliver a large programme of Miscanthus planting. The ambition is to optimise the Miscanthus establishment through improved mechanisation and data capture to help meet the UK’s Net Zero targets.

Full project title

Optimising Miscanthus Establishment through improved mechanisation and data capture to meet Net Zero targets

Project focus

  • Nursery: planting material, biological treatments and nutrition
  • Planting protocol: moisture retention, reduced tillage, soil health
  • Planting process: agri-tech and automation
  • Establishment monitoring: drone agronomy, remote sensing, data capture

Project duration

1 Jul 2022 to 31 Mar 2025

Sponsor

Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ)under the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio

Programme

Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme, part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio was launched in 2021 by BEIS to enable organisations, including start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises, to develop research projects that will deliver commercially viable innovations in biomass production.

Partners

The OMENZ project is led by Terravesta and involves a variety of partners including Cranfield University, Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), Energene Seeds Ltd, Liverpool John Moores University, TJSS Ltd, University of Lincoln and Ystumtec Ltd.

Project valued at

£3.3 million

Growth stimulants trials

Project summary

Second generation biomass crops, such as Miscanthus, will play an important role in meeting the UK government’s 2050 targets. A scenario analysis shows that 17,000 hectares of biomass crops would need to be planted each year to meet the target.

However, existing planting technologies will struggle to deliver this scale of planting in the timescales required. There is therefore a need for innovation in current planting methods and technologies to achieve this scale.

Terravesta, one of the world’s leading Miscanthus experts, is working with a consortium of academic and industrial partners to improve existing establishment technologies.

Rhizome development analysis

The OMENZ project will analyse the whole Miscanthus establishment pipeline for both seeds and rhizomes. All stages will be investigated, from approaches to field preparation, germplasm production, different machinery and techniques for planting to the technology used to monitor early-stage growth. In this way, it will be possible to identify the areas in which the project can achieve the most significant gains in terms of efficiency and cost reduction.

The project aims to trial a range of new technologies that can lead to the development of automation systems that will increase the efficiency of the process ranging from nursery to establishment. The project will also use drone technology, smarter planters and machine learning to quantify the establishment sucess.

  • AI technology to monitor Miscanthus establishment and growth
  • Automation of nursery processes including rhizome splitting and processing
  • Data collection on the physiological expressions of genotypes in various locations
AI algorithm to assess plant density using drone imagery