Miscanthus is a hardy perennial energy crop that can help to increase soil health and stability.
One crop which has proven to increase the stability in the field it was planted on, is being showcased on a Miscanthus farm walk, taking place in North Lincolnshire on Thursday 18th January.
Farmers interested in seeing how Miscanthus has benefitted grower Robert Hammond, of Hammond Farms, on land he says was previously ‘bottoming out’, can book onto the walk free of charge.
“Machinery was sinking into the land which was previously in an arable rotation of potatoes, sugar beet and maize. The soil is light, and occasionally the harvester was dropping into the subsoil during harvest. With Miscanthus, the root structure creates a ‘matt’ meaning the soil is firmer and harvesting is not a problem,” says Robert.
“In fact, the crop was planted in 2016 and harvested a year later. Usually the first harvest is in the second year of growth, and this is because rhizome (root stock) quality and planting practices have improved so much, early harvests are becoming more common.
“We also had a bad weed problem in that field, and the Miscanthus, once established, has helped to combat this. I’ve been impressed so far, and I’m hoping to plant more in 2019,” adds Robert.
Miscanthus grows up to 12 feet high and has the potential to yield 15 tonnes per hectare, which can give the farmer a return of over £900 per hectare from mature yield.
Vigorous annual root growth, combined with older root decomposition, generates organic matter, increasing fertility and improving and developing structure. Additionally, lack of annual cultivations and ample leaf and harvest residue litter create the ideal environment for invertebrate and earthworm population growth.
Increased demand for Miscanthus from Brigg and Snetterton Power Stations, means more planting is needed in Lincolnshire and surrounding counties.
The farm walk is run by Terravesta – the Miscanthus supply chain specialists behind the growth of the Miscanthus market. The Terravesta team will outline the life-cycle of the crop, and harvest best practice and timings. They will offer planting advice, inform on machinery requirements, update on the limited crop inputs needed, and financial returns available.
Delegates will also have the chance to view Miscanthus fields, ask questions, and be given a light lunch, where there’s the opportunity to chat with the team and other farmers about the crop.