Farmers interested in growing miscanthus for biomass could soon benefit from lower crop establishment costs through the use of seeds rather than rhizomes.

Researchers at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University are currently trialling new seed-based miscanthus hybrids bred in Texas and Southern Europe.

Contract miscanthus growing company Terravesta is involved with the trials, and it is hoped pre-commercial seed will be available to farmers in 2014.

“It should reduce the cost and you can then use the seed-based technologies that exist for the other crops,” said Chris Ashman, a PhD student at IBERS.

“We are working with a module-based product as something to get through a cabbage planter, for example. The aim is to end with a product which can be direct-drilled.”

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