Farming both sustainable energy and food is top of the agenda for Cheshire arable farmer, Andrew Worrall, who grows the carbon negative energy crop, Miscanthus, on less productive fields alongside food crops including pumpkins, triticale and cover crops for soil fertility.
Andrew is hosting a farm walk with Miscanthus specialist, Terravesta, on Thursday 31 March, for other farmers interested in benefitting from the long-term profitable crop.
“Miscanthus doesn’t need much management, and it’s contributing to UK energy security, which is now even more important. Whole bales are harvested annually and delivered to UK renewable energy power stations to power homes,” explains Andrew.
Andrew has grown Miscanthus for many years, and decided to reinvest, planting an additional 9 hectares of Teravesta AthenaTM in 2020. “It grows on our less productive fields which are we don’t make a profit growing cereals on, and with the rising cost of fertiliser and inputs, it seems we made the right decision – Miscanthus doesn’t need any fertiliser and needs minimal inputs to get established. It then grows for over 20 years, and we take an annual harvest.”
Andrew’s father sadly passed away in 2019, and was growing mostly cereals. Andrew decided to plant more Miscanthus in 2020 because it’s so low maintenance and allows him to work full time off the farm, as he has done for many years.
“Miscanthus gives us a reliable income and allows us to concentrate time and effort on the food crops,” says Andrew.
“Terravesta AthenaTM Miscanthus is a fantastic new variety, the rhizomes are delivered to the farm in good condition, and Terravesta provides the planter and planting advice. We supply the man power, and the planting was seamless,” adds Andrew.
Andrew has a long-term fixed-price retail index-linked contract with Terravesta, meaning the price goes up annually and guarantees a reliable income on difficult land.
Farmers considering planting the carbon negative crop Miscanthus can now benefit from a finance package to cover virtually all upfront costs for crop establishment, as well as new direct, long-term offtake agreements with end-users, with 10–15-year index-linked annual returns.
Under the new contract, Terravesta will supply its Performance Hybrids, planting equipment and agronomy throughout the crop’s life, ensuring successful crop establishment by committing to a minimum number of plants emerging under its new planting promise.
“Our current rhizome-based variety Terravesta AthenaTM delivers higher yields than the commercially available Miscanthus giganteus, a calorific value increase of 8%, resulting in 180% increase in energy per hectare (megajoules) and significant ash content reduction, all of which benefits the end-user considerably,” explains Alex Robinson Terravesta’s chief operating officer.
About the Miscanthus farm walk:
Grower host: Andrew Worrall
Date and time: Thursday 31 March 2022, 9:30 – 11:30am
Catering: Complimentary teas, coffees and biscuits