Farmers keen to hear first-hand about the benefits of growing Miscanthus are invited to attend a farm walk in Daventry this March.
Farmers Tom and Rachel Jeffries will showcase their Miscanthus crop at the Terravesta hosted event, which will take place on 2 March.
Tom initially planted 23ha in 2008, later adding another 7ha in 2021. Driven by depressed arable prices and the end of set-aside, he remains pleased with how Miscanthus has slotted neatly into his farm operation.
“In 2008 prices were pretty depressed on the arable side, set-aside was ending and there was a planting grant available,” Tom says. “The majority of the field hadn’t ever been cropped as an arable field because it didn’t suit arable cropping, so it had just been set aside.
“We decided that, due to the topography of the field, we’d plant 14ha of Miscanthus in it, but because we needed to make up a viable area, we also took two awkward corners out of other fields and used it to define where a footpath should be.”
Although Tom found establishment tricky, mainly due to the farm’s heavy deer population, he has been pleased with the crop’s performance since.
“We haven’t gone for bumper yields, simply because the ground we used wasn’t going to grow 100% wheat crop, so why should we expect it to grow 100% Miscanthus crop?” he says.
“But the Miscanthus does well on this less productive land overall and it fits in well with the rest of our farming operations, due to a spring harvest. Once it is baled in April we store the bales in our grain store, before they’re moved on before the cereal harvest.”
There are myriad benefits to growing Miscanthus; it stores carbon, is great for soil health and it is perennial, so the soil does not need to be ploughed.
Miscanthus is now also eligible for Sustainable Farming Incentive payments under the ELM scheme, following the new standards announced by Defra on 26 January.
“It is fantastic news that Miscanthus growers will be able to claim Sustainable Farming Incentive payments to acknowledge the work they’re doing to help the industry and country fulfill its environment and climate goals,” says Alex Robinson, Terravesta’s chief operating officer.
“Miscanthus improves the health and functionality of the soil to deliver multiple benefits and outcomes. It also provides farmers with a stable income from less productive land.
“Terravesta works with Miscanthus growers all over the UK, to service large and small-scale energy markets. We look forward to meeting farmers interested in growing Miscanthus at a farm walk this spring and chatting to them about our long-term buy-back contracts.”
The Miscanthus farm walk in Daventry will run from 9.30-11:30am and will include a presentation from Terravesta in the field, a tour of the crop with chance to ask questions and light refreshments.
To book onto the walk, visit www.terravesta.com/events.
About the Daventry farm walk
Farm walk hosts: Tom and Rachel Jeffries
Date and time: 2 March, 9.30-11am
Light refreshments will be provided