Cheaper miscanthus planting offers option for growers

Planting discounts are on offer for new and existing growers of miscanthus to help meet the demand of the growing market.

The UK’s largest producer group Terravesta, which has long-term, fixed price contracts to grow and sell miscanthus with more than 300 farmers, has launched the offer for spring 2019 planting.

Miscanthus is a low-maintenance perennial energy crop, which is harvested every spring and has the potential to yield 12 to 17t/ha. Once the crop is at mature yield, the company says the grower can earn in the region of £900/ha net margin.

The discounted pricing strategy is as follows (per ha):

  • £1,275 = 0-19ha
  • £1,250 = 20-39ha
  • £1,225 = 40-79ha
  • £1,200 = 80-99ha
  • £1,150 = 100ha+

The current base price is £1,350/ha.

See also: How to unlock profits from marginal fields with miscanthus

The price includes the rhizomes (piece of an existing plant’s root, from which a new plant can grow) and their delivery, loan of planter, a planting tutorial and consultancy services.

The grower must cultivate the land to achieve a 10-15cm depth seed bed, provide a tractor to pull the planter, and provide labour to operate the tractor and planter.

Autumn muck spreading and ploughing is recommended before generating a fine tilth as close to planting as possible. The better the seed bed, the quicker the miscanthus will establish.

Growing opportunity

Miscanthus provides a good opportunity for arable growers with unprofitable fields that are difficult to crop, because it will grow on virtually any soil type up to 120m above sea level.

Terravesta claims there are numerous markets for the crop, which include long-term supply contracts with Brigg and Snetterton power stations, backed by 25-year agreements with the UK government.

It has also recently launched a domestic fuel range which is being trialled by Waitrose.

However, miscanthus involves a two-year wait for a significant return following a costly establishment, and has had a turbulent history.

Companies that dealt in the crop have in the past got into financial difficulty, huge player power station Drax cancelled its order and the government ended its support for the Energy Crops Scheme.

To get involved with Terravesta’s discounted pricing structure, the company needs a signed term contract and establishment contract, a 5% deposit and a sustainability data return by 30 September 2018.

For more information contact Jacob Duce on 01522 731 873 or email him jacobd@terravesta.com.

Miscanthus facts

  • Low-maintenance crops with reliable returns
  • Grows on virtually any soil type up to 120m above sea level
  • Typically does not give full yield until third harvest
  • Higher oil content than straw and generates less ash, so competitive as a fuel
  • Can be grown independently as fuel for biomass boiler
  • Growers can opt to have it baled like straw or processed into pellets
  • Grown from a rhizome (piece of an existing plant’s root, from which a new plant can grow) rather than a seed

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