The benefits of Miscanthus

By Ben Booth

Ben Booth at Terravesta manages crop establishment and outlines some key benefits to planting Miscanthus in his latest blog post…

The top three considerations to highlight are:

  • Miscanthus can thrive on marginal land and low-quality soils, with no irrigation required, reducing pressure over land use for crops and conflicts over food versus fuel production.
  • Terravesta Performance HybidsTM provide an average net profit of £558/ha over 15 years.
  • Government recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change, report entitled “Land use: Policies for a net zero UK” state that expanding biomass crops, including Miscanthus, by around 23,000 hectares each year would deliver 2MtCO2e emissions savings in the land sector and an extra 11 MtCO2e from the harvested biomass when used for construction or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

However, these are just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many other reasons why Miscanthus is going to be an even more important crop in the future of farming.

Natural capital benefits

Among these are the clear natural capital benefits – Miscanthus increase the level of organic matter in soil, with no fertiliser requirement. It also stores carbon annually, as it’s a perennial crop.

Financial return on marginal land

This is mentioned in the top three benefits, and to give it more detail, taking high input, low return land out of conventional cropping allows more time to be spent on productive land, while securing a stable secure, long term income, on a crop which largely looks after itself after establishment.

Water management

Miscanthus can thrive on flood-prone or drought-prone land. It grows on marginal fields which don’t have irrigation, or for that matter, don’t need it. With the way the weather is changing, we need more crops which are going to withstand extreme weather scenarios and this is a very good reason to plant Miscanthus because once established, it will grow every year, whatever the weather does.

Biodiversity

Miscanthus increases bird populations, such as lapwings, and provide shelter for birds and mammals. It requires no insecticide application and so is beneficial to invertebrates and the soil goes undisturbed for potentially over 20 years.

Carbon storage

Miscanthus stores carbon each year and we are progressing a standardised approach to measuring and auditing Miscanthus carbon storage, enabling farmers to have a framework for carbon trading.

If you want to find out more, please get in touch directly by emailing ben@terravesta.com or calling 07939238576.

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