A Miscanthus farm walk is taking place in west Wales this month, for farmers looking at diversification income streams to help future proof their businesses against economic uncertainty.
Narberth-based farmer Paul Ratcliffe will be showcasing his 6-year-old crop, on at Terravesta co-hosted event, on Thursday 27 October between 9:30 – 11:30 am.
Paul chose Miscanthus to replace less productive arable fields which weren’t yielding very well, located next to Bluestone Resort, and says it’s ‘going strong’.
“We were keen to diversify into the biomass sector, so we planted 24 hectares of Miscanthus all in one go, back in 2016, and we supply the straw to Miscanthus specialist, Terravesta,” says Paul.
“Our 24-hectare crop is still doing well and has a consistent yield,” adds Paul.
More Welsh farmers are also growing Miscanthus for a home-grown source of bedding, offering the opportunity for grassland-based livestock farmers to reduce production costs and diversify income streams.
There are also a range of environmental benefits associated with growing Miscanthus. Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be made from lower transport costs, and the crops own carbon sequestration capabilities, lower amounts of fertiliser usage, and through crop longevity.
In addition, growing Miscanthus can benefit ecosystem service delivery from livestock farms by contributing to better water management, reduced nitrate leaching, and greater habitat diversity.
Alex Robinson, Terravesta’s chief operating officer, said: “Growing Miscanthus for bedding may be a way for Welsh farmers to benefit from a crop that grows well in the Welsh uplands, with no fertiliser required, and copes with more challenging topography. We are also looking at promising regional markets emerging for Wales in the next few years.
“Terravesta works with Miscanthus growers all over the UK, to service large and small-scale energy markets. Anyone interested in planting the crop in Spring 2023 should get in touch with us,” says Alex.
Miscanthus farming in Wales
With the Welsh Government planning to hit ambitious renewable energy targets over the next couple of decades, the demand for sustainable bioenergy sources that conflict little with food production will skyrocket. As a crop that will thrive on less productive fields and land with poor quality soils, Miscanthus is one solution.
Miscanthus has the ability to sequester 2.35 tonnes of CO2 per ha per annum, it has little or no inputs of fertiliser, chemicals, and power, enabling an opportunity to genuinely reduce whole farm emissions.
Farmers considering planting the carbon negative crop Miscanthus can also 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.
To book onto the Welsh Miscanthus farm walk, visit www.terravesta.com/events.
About the Welsh Miscanthus farm walk:
Farm walk host: Paul Ratcliffe
Date and time: Thursday, October 27. 9:30am – 11:30am
Location: Narberth, Pembrokeshire, West Wales.
Catering: Complimentary teas, coffees, and snacks