Future-proofing with Miscanthus

The business case for Miscanthus continues to strengthen in the face of rising uncertainty in the farming sector, due to attractive long-term contracts available and secure markets for the crop.

Lincolnshire grower, AHDB Monitor Farmer and Miscanthus advocate, Colin Chappell, manages 647 hectares of land along the River Ancholme in Brigg and grows 26ha of Miscanthus on his unproductive land. Colin will be opening his farm on 21 March to those keen to explore the benefits of the crop on a breakfast Miscanthus farm walk, hosted by Terravesta and run in partnership with the CLA.

“British farmers are stepping into the unknown. Our subsidy will disappear and Miscanthus has numerous positive attributes including long-term financial security, robust growing markets and environmental benefits,” says Colin.

“With Miscanthus you have to take a long-term view and look at the guaranteed returns available from an upfront investment. Farming is shifting rapidly, and we must change our approach if we want to stay viable.”

Colin supplies Miscanthus specialist Terravesta with whole bales which fuel Brigg Renewable Energy Plant, under a mile away from his farm, on a long-term contract. Terravesta has a 14-year contract with the power station, which in turn has long-term government support.

“Miscanthus is a hardy perennial crop, with an average return of £562/ha over a 15-year period, and long-term fixed index linked contracts are available with Terravesta to grow and sell it. It takes approximately 4-5 years to make the money back but by year 5 growers are looking at approximately £700/ha net margin,” says Jacob Duce from Terravesta.

The benefits of Miscanthus far outweigh the upfront investment says Colin: “I don’t worry about blackgrass on the fields of Miscanthus, the leaf litter and high canopy combats it. The crop is low input, it stacks up nicely financially, it’s harvested in the spring when the rest of the farm is quiet, it’s carbon negative, it teems with wildlife and I can get 13 tonnes/ha easily on poor grade land, and that’s from a crop planted in 2006. Due to improved rhizome quality and planting techniques, new crops now have 90% establishment on average and are likely to yield at least 15 tonnes/ha.”

To book and find out more about the open day host, Terravesta, visit: https://www.terravesta.com/events

The Miscanthus farm walk is hosted by Terravesta and run in partnership with the CLA:

Date: 21st March 2019

Time: 09:00 – 12:00

Grower host: Colin Chappell

Location: Brigg, Lincolnshire

Cost: F.O.C

Catering: Complimentary full English breakfast will be provided

 

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.